February 28, 2011


Image from Kel's tumblr

I will not claim to know much about the Middle East/ Africa, but having read articles about Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, I am:
1. Appalled that people aren't talking more about these revolutions
2. Appalled that such dictatorships can exist
3. Disgusted that man can turn against man in such a degenerative way- absolutely repulsed that someone who calls himself "brother leader" can turn against his "brothers" to such an extent that he calls them "rats" and "cockroaches" that he is going to weed out from house to house
4. Proud that it is the next generation of young people who are rising up and leading the way; proud that humanity can rise above lack of freedom and political voice to take their country in their own hands
5. Worried about the future of these countries- as the Economist says, "one man might fall, but entrenched regimes are hard to shift"
6. Not entirely comfortable with the violence in Libya

Images from WSJ slideshows here, here, here and here

It is crazy how it started with Egypt...and then Tunisia, and then Morocco/Libya/so many other Middle Eastern/ African countries. This domino effect that refuses to stop, a momentum for democracy that is picking up across the Middle East. Yet at the same time, all this violence- all this blood shed for ? an undefinable cause that in some cases is spearheaded by so many diverse groups that toppling one leader might not be enough because what then? Getting rid of a single dictator may plunge these countries into even more turmoil.

Plus it's SO INFURIATING that a search on WSJ.com for "Libya" results in all these articles about the price of oil, and rarely on the plight of Libyans. Like the only reason why we should be worried about Libya is because the reduction in the supply of oil will increase the price of gas. This article to me is INCREDIBLY callous, Why Libya Could be a Buying Opportunity, in WSJ.com's Personal Finance section. WTF? People are DYING. These people don't have drinking water, any form of school system, and are getting bombed at- the state-sponsored militia are killing not just the rebels but also the soldiers who refuse to shoot at their countrymen, and you're talking about how this will affect STOCK PRICES?????

It is at these times that I feel absolutely ashamed to be part of the "free world" (which, let's not even go into how the stupid Tuesday voting system skews results, how politicians have encourage bipartisanship in order to garner more votes, the favouring of strong unions and political factions like the steel and agriculture industry that has distorted the markets ETC). How can one be thinking about stock prices when people on the other side of the world are getting shot at by their leader who doesn't even think of them as people?

I am just so... overwhelmed by this movement. Not that I think democracy is the best thing since sliced bread and the particular American form of democracy should be implemented everywhere wholesale (I do, afterall, come from Singapore)- but freedom, respect for humanity: these are ideals that I can stand by.

It's a little depressing that the more you study, the less you feel you know. Art really is the last refuge- when I think of education issues in the US, or dictatorships in the rest of the world, or development projects that need to be implemented by NGOs because governments aren't doing their jobs, it makes me so, so sad.

I've also decided to stay in Berkeley over spring break- but have lots of adventures planned (with my pass, I can go to any museum for freeeeee!) and tiny roadtrips around Northern California. Can't wait for spring break- school is just so incredibly exhausting, but so fulfilling. I feel like knowledges are bursting out of my head. And that I need 8 hands to type all my emails for me (and 1 hand to surf Tumblr).

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