english Arabic

Thinking Load


Mubarak Awad


We are seeing in the Middle East a phenomenon that comes only once in a half century or century—when there is an uprising of people of different age, religion and political identity who want freedom and justice and are willing to sacrifice themselves, there professions, their jobs and their retirement in a nonviolent way for the sake of such freedom and justice. This is a dream come true for those of us who have been active in nonviolence for many years. When a spark hits the conscience of people, that spark becomes a lightening rod, which then becomes a fire and eventually turns into a star that is leading everybody to a destination. In that moment, thousands and thousands of people feel they are one with each other without hesitation or restrictions on their thoughts or strategy. Their aims become one, their objectives become one and they desire for a better future. They are willing to take down the most powerful people who have oppressed them for many, many years, and who have the authority to put them in jail and deprive them of their rights, to torture or even kill them, and to make them disappear. But those people, who believe they have the right for freedom like any other country or any other individual in the world, are not concerned with such consequences. In such moments, they forgot even that they are Arabs or Muslims or Christians. They forget that they are Sunni or Shi’a, and became one with the idea that everybody needs freedom. We cannot but start to congratulate every person who marches, who protests and who is part of this uprising in the Arab world. And this is just the beginning. To be free for the long run, all 22 Arab countries must act as though they are one with Egypt and Tunisia. Any nonviolent uprising has to have a common strategy and, in the Arab world, it may be the same strategy that has worked in India, the Philippines, Kosovo or areas in South America.

These examples of nonviolence exemplify points that we must follow. The points include: 1) the main issue of nonviolence is the respect of life; this means no capital punishment and no killing of anyone, regardless. 2) Nonviolent support must apply to any violation of human rights. Violation of the rights of one person is to be seen as a violation of everyone’s human rights. Nonviolent movements will try to adhere correctly and let the violator and others locally and internationally know that this group’s rights have been violated. 3) Nonviolent activists believe in social justice and ethically they deal with deprived groups who do not have any power or representation. 4) Nonviolence groups can be spiritual in their articulation of a means to the ends; however, others can use nonviolence as a method because it works better than violence. 5) Nonviolent movements need strategy, organizations and masses of people to make changes that people themselves can believe in.  People must be willing to accept pain on themselves without pain on others and even be willing to die for their cause without using weapons. 6) Nonviolence can be used by all ages and people can use it as a choice rather than a demand from any authority. 7) Nonviolence does not need to have a specific dynamic leader to make change, yet in its history, we have sometimes had those leaders to represent a certain goal or cause.

We cannot stop the struggle simply because of a change in regime or a defeated dictator. We must create a way in which we as individual citizens can participate in a government run how we want it to be run. This means that we need to continue to sacrifice and start working within governments by running for any sort of office decided by a democratic process; from a school board to a board of directors of an NGO to a ministerial board. This, by itself, gives us a bigger dream—a dream of moving beyond the legacy of the previous colonization of the Arab world and creating an Arab world united with its own people. And this will take us away from our religious and ethnic prejudices as well as our discrimination against political minorities.

We need a voice and we need a voice of wisdom now. We need it in education, in economics, in business, in politics and we need a voice in the international arena. We must look within the Arab community to find the people who are still deprived of the political freedom, who are under occupation and who lack a sense of justice and equality. Keeping these ideas as a dream in our mind will make the Bahraini individual and the Tunisian individual, for example, have one motive in an Arab world. That goal is freedom for all. Doing that and accepting responsibility for it will put us in the driver’s seat on the international arena as well as in the court of justice and most importantly, in dealing with the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. As we commit to nonviolence—which means no killing, and no destruction of property—we have to accept a level of responsibility at which we can dialogue, communicate and resolve conflict with any group, without using weapons. Thus, we do not need an army to protect ourselves, we need groups of people who can make peace with every nation in the world, who’s borders will be open to all and in which nobody shall be killed because of a piece of land. The oil under our feet doesn’t belong to a family or to a group; it belongs to all the Arabs in the Middle East. No justification or exceptions apply to this vast amount of money that is being hidden to benefit the Arab world.

Our strategy should be one. And it should be open to all other countries. We will treat others how we would like to be treated ourselves. The time will come when people will take us seriously and at that time, the Arabic community will enter the history books as those people who freed themselves from the threat of their own first and joined the international community as equals. We should not be afraid of freedom, we should not be afraid of justice and we should not be afraid of the power of people who bring freedom and justice to all. It is this power that crumbled dictators and regimes. We can build on it and use it to inspire everyone in both the economic and spiritual growth without depriving a person of his or her liberty or thoughts of freedom of religion. This proud moment and message is to all those who walk in the streets, administrate in the streets, fill the streets, and make all the Arabs around the world proud. It is these people who are proving that we can do it ourselves and do not have to wait for Western countries or any other groups to help us. Our aim to continue this process and advance our Arab feelings and culture in a way that will not hurt others but enhance the culture of other countries. We cannot but accept and give examples to others how we can rule ourselves and be a good neighbor.

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