One year from Tahrir

by Peter Watts

One year ago this month the Arab Spring arrived in Egypt as Tahrir Square crowds toppled a regime.

Tahrir Square demonstrated that when people find their voice, nothing is impossible. 2011 saw people-power protests ranging from the Arab Spring through to Occupy Wall Street and the Internet campaigns that led banks to abandon unfair customer charges.

It might sound odd or even offensive to equate such diverse movements, especially when the heroic protests of Tahrir Square saw people lay down their lives. There is a connection though, and as with so much in life today, it’s a technology enabled one.

Individuals are proving increasingly unwilling to accept the exercise of power over them when that power is exercised without legitimacy or justice. Whereas in the past, Big Brother was unwillingly accepted, individuals now increasingly challenge back.

Here’s where the technology comes in. In the past, it was those in power who held access to the means of communication. They could control whose voice got onto the airwaves. If your voice is never going to be heard, then why bother exercising it? You might as well stand on a cliff-top and howl into the gale. Today however, we have access to the internet channels that allow our voices to be heard.

Yes, granted, the result is usually a cacophony but there are occasions when disparate voices find points of harmony and the result is change. It is said that a butterfly fluttering its wings in one location creates a hurricane somewhere else. Nowhere is this truer than in matters of speech. Every successful movement tracks back to one person finding their voice and speaking out. From those initial flutters, the hurricanes howl.

This is the connection point between the apparently disparate causes I mentioned earlier. All of them started out with an individual or individuals using their voices to bring about change.

Find your voice. It has more power than you think.

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