Libya, the larger picture

Thursday, March 17, 2011; 9:12 AM

‘In Benghazi – Libya’s rebel-controlled second largest city – opposition protesters are buoyed by news that fighters in a nearby town have beaten back an offensive by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

While some in the city are apprehensive that the war may still come to their door step, they remain defiant, vowing to fight on to defeat Gaddafi’s troops.’

 Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports from Benghazi.

Frank van Empel for nonfiXe

Tunesia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain… the freedom virus is spreading rapidly. People all over the world want to be treated fairly and with respect and dignity, even by tyrants. But Gaddafi does not get it. He has missed some clues. For instance the clue from Tunesia where the 26 year old fruitseller Mohammed Bouazizi burned his life away on December 17, 2010 after a female police officer claimed the balance to weigh his products while selling. She slashed him in the face too. Mohammed Bouazizi went to claim his right, but was denied an answer and stripped once again from his dignity by the authorities. His last words: ‘If nobody listens to me, I set myself on fire’. And he did.

(Trailer Al Sharara, the fuse, a movie by Mongi Farhani)

What arrogant dictators like Ben Ali (Tunesia), Mubarak (Egypt) and Gaddafi (Libya) didn’t expect, happened in a wink. Bouazizi was the fuse in a powder keg. The People made clear that they had enough. They prooved even the smallest person with the quietest voice can make a difference. They resisted oppression and came together on the streets and squares. Bouazizi not only changed Tunesia. He has changed Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Morocco. He  brought hope to Palestina, Ethiopia, Iran and dozens of other countries.

The larger picture shows that it even changed the opinion of Westerners on Moslims. Western people sympathize with freedom fighters. With one spark Bouazizi neutralized the Twin Towers act of Bin Laden & Al Qaeda. And with the USA he changed the balance of power in the Middle East. The larger picture also shows that there is a spirit that rises above the borders of nation states into the wide open: the spirit of freedom, equality and friendship, the spirit of democracy.

Nationstates are constructions of the past. The borders are silent witnesses of wars and trade offs. They are not natural. And because they are not natural they have to be defended by guns and soldiers. Defended against the evil that may come from abroad: real evil, like Al Quada kamikaze pilots, but also poor South American Adventurers and African freedomseekers. Democratic principles that are manifest for internal affairs and citizens do not go for foreigners. Strange. Either you have principles or you don’t have principles. Democratic principles in particular should apply to everyone who wants to live the life we Westerners live.

Democracy is much more than just a form of government. It is a way of life that we can try to sketch in words, but that is impossible to define. It’s something bigger than life. For instance it says that democrats shall not boss or rule others who have fewer or no means to redress. Its history goes back in time some 2600 years. The roots are in the Middle East: Babylon, the area we nowadays call Iran and Iraq. Countries that got lost somewhere between then and now. Athens in Greece and Rome in Italy took over.

After the fall of the Roman Empire a dark episode of 1000 years, called the Middle Ages, followed. Then democracy popped up in Europe and the US. Since 1989 democracy is a hit in Eastern Europe as well. The EU system of enlargement has much to do with the growth of incomes and jobs in places that used to be a dictatorship.

The story of democracy cannot be told in a few lines, but one thing is for sure: Gaddafi is an anti democrat. In his name people whose biggest crime is that they want to be democrats too, are being massacred. They don’t only shout it, they show it, by risking their lives in order to overthrow dictatorship. The protesters in Northern Africa and the Middle East don’t want to get screwed anymore by no-brainers that have gathered weapons and trigger-happy crooks around their villas. They have enough of unfairness, display of power, sexual abuse and the lack of money due to stealing practices of high placed blind followers of rulers.

It is time, it is high time for Obama, Merkel, Kroes, Rutte, Sarkozy and all other so-called democrats to stand up for the rights of the weak, to tame gunpowers like Gaddafi, to empower people everywhere, so that they can work, earn income and live the life we live. Take notion of the word ‘everywhere’. The taming of power should be the nr. 1 mission of democrats all over the world, no matter where they come from. It is a big but necessary step forward on the way to sustainable peace and happiness for everyone. A democratic Vistas (named after an essay of the 19th century American writer Walt Whitman), based on the principle that no concentrations of unaccountable power will be tolerated anymore by the United Democrats.

We go even further. Europe, the USA and other places of Wealth and Prosperity have to open their doors for likeminded democrats. To asylum seekers who never practiced their democratic rights we will extend a warm welcome. In order for them to experience the democratic way of life. To quote another American writer, Gary Snyder: ‘It is also a new thought that anyone of any cultural or racial background who chooses to learn, love and respect the North American (and European, fve) continent and its human and nonhuman inhabitants – and its ecosystems and watersheds – can be a sort of honorary Native American (European, fve).’

nonfiXe, March 17, 2011

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