The tsunami sweeping the Arab world, while welcomed and long overdue, is nothing new. Greed, that has been part of the human psyche, has controlled far too many human organizations, creating Haves and Have-Nots. Greed even invades egalitarian-minded people like monastics, socialists, and communists. To retain their privileges, the Haves must share their wealth with sufficient knights, nobles, generals, and executives to monoploze the weapons of force. All of this can go awry as Lesser Haves vie to become Major Haves.
Periodically, the Have-Nots become Have-Had-Enoughs and revolt, often peacefully, but the fearful Haves use bloody force, torture, and murders, to maintain the status quo. Revolts that are eventually successful, like the French Revolution, require the Army, drawn from the ranks of the Have-Nots, to switch sides. Knowing this, the Haves build into their armies harsh punishments for deviations from the rules. They also use large quantities of Brain Wash. And, they often forget reform promises they make while the Have-Nots are assembled.
We, in the Western World (and China) pride ourselves that we have, albeit with slow and painful steps, opened the doors for ever more Have-Nots to become, at least, Partial-Haves. And, we have established procedures for the peaceful transfer of power.
A few minds, blessed by geography and resources, created the necessary cultural, commercial, and industrial revolutions that slowly gave rise to the current notions of Fair Play and the Dignity of Man (while we forget that the nomadic Celts had this 3,500 years ago). Too often our high ideals have been restricted to utterances rather than actions. We have become too satisfied with our comfortable lives and in order to enhance them we have supported dictatorial regimes, creating enemies among their Have-Nots, giving rise to al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups that run the gamit from freedom fighters to terrorists. Middle East oil and the Suez Canal are important to us so we pay dictatorial regimes to do our bidding. Much of the $70 billion that Mubarak has pocketed comes from our taxpayers. The courage, dedication, and stamina of the protestors is admirable. Continuing to support Mubarak can lose us their future co-operation. The revolt against the abusive Shah we supported led to a regime not to our liking and one that also can subdue popular uprisings. We have allowed our interests to relegate our principles to second place. Israel also accepts our money, but declines our advice, not endearing us to Palestinians or Lebanese.
At home we allow the gap between the Haves and Have-Nots to become a chasm. Is a CEO, a banker, a sport or entertainment star worth that much more than the essential farmer who toils in the hot sun to feed us? There was good reason for the rise of Communism. Why and how did it go off the rails?
This latest Arab tsunami demands our immediate support, guidance, and sacrifices that can be interpreted as genuine help devoid of self commercial interests.
And, we cannot shrug off the world-wide disatisfaction with governments and multi-nationals. There are no easy answers, but as we press on we must keep in the driver's seat Human Rights who also respects the rights of all living things.