What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Our page in history

I am a history geek. The subject has always fascinated me. Its pages are filled with incredible stories that captivate you. These are stories about our human race, the people we were and our journey to where we are today. And what a wonderful journey it has been. It is a pleasure to read about classical civilization and cultural antiquity. How our ancestors formed the first great cities and towns of their times. It is fascinating to see the story of government unfold from the ancient Greek City states to the Magna Carta on the British isle to democracy as we know it today. It is moving to discover the great struggles, the civil rights movements that set the foundation for freedom as we know it today. Our history is glorious and brilliant.

It is not all about rainbows and butterflies though. Amidst the shining brilliance, is also stretches of bleak cold darkness. For every age of prosperity and plenty, there is plague and famine. For every renaissance and revival, there is the medieval times and dark ages. For all great heroes and kings, there are the warlords and barbarians. For every liberty and freedom, there is sacrificial blood.

As a student of history, I have always wondered about why some of our world's greatest moments are washed in blood. Is this some sort of baptismal by fire? A necessary and holy sacrifice to the Gods of history? Or is it just the innately cruel nature of man, our lust for blood that is time and again the doom of mankind?

"Liberté, égalité, fraternité" the noble chant of the French revolution rings loud and true across the world. These words are the sounds of the proletariat, sounds of freedom, sounds of revolution and change. But to me there is another sound that rings in my brain as the sound of the people, of freedom, revolution and change. That is the endless cacophony of muskets firing at Bastilles, ending with the gruesome chunk of the guillotine slicing of a head.

Then there is the Russian revolution. Another noble undertaking for "Liberty, equality and freedom". It was another land in turmoil that sought to overthrow their cruel authoritarian Czar and replace him with a government of the people. Freedom here rings in the sound of the stoic Bolsheviks marching through Red Square reclaiming what was due to the sweat of their brow. But in their freedom I also hear the cry of five innocent children as their bodies were riddled with bullets.

The Czars, the emperors, the dictators of history had to be overthrown. People deserve freedom. However, blood as the price of freedom just breaks my heart and makes me wonder if freedom is truly worth that price. Don't get me wrong, I don't sympathize with the regimes. My support is for the people, and my love for history makes me cherish it. But I don't think saying  "Qu’ils mangent de la brioche" warrants having one's head sliced off. Perhaps a tight slap across the cheek and a lifetime of community service would have sufficed. Czar Nicholas may have been a terrible ruler, but surely a man beloved by his nieces and nephews as uncle Nicky probably was human too. Even if he deserved to die, did his wife and kids too? I can't help it but sometimes cry at the fate of the Romanovs, realizing that this page of revolution and change in history is washed with the blood of children.

That brings me to one of our pages in history. The Arab spring has brought a breath of fresh air and inspired change across the world. For many years the Arab nations have been the most oppressed nations in the world. Unlike the rest of us they have not enjoyed the freedom that democracy brings. They have been ruled by lines of Sultans, eccentric religious figures or narcissistic military dictators. The people suffered their abject poverty, their lack of opportunities and bleak overview of life silently, while the rest of the world looked down on the Arab world as the breeding pool of terrorists and extremists.

All that changed with the Arab spring. Like with all revolutions of the past, it just took a few good men and women with a few ounces of courage to put their foot down and say enough was enough. And a few ounces of courage is all it takes for the right thing to snowball into something big. So from Tunisia to Egypt to Jordan to Syria to Yemen to Oman to even Iran, the people took to the streets and demanded change. They asked for their fair share, their right to be free and live with dignity. Their protests took different shapes and forms. Some were minor protests, some were revolutions like wildfire and others were full fledged war.

So profound were these protests that they touched and inspired the rest of the world. The Arab world was no longer a breeding ground for terrorists. The Christians, Muslims, Jews fighting together for freedom in Egypt and elsewhere showed that there was another side to the Arab world. Just like us they were men, women, children, families, human beings who only wanted to be free. Their fight in dire straits taught us Americans that we too had a voice and could stand up for ourselves. In fact we ought to be ashamed of never speaking up and taking freedom for granted. The Arab spring created a butterfly effect around the world with budget protests, austerity protests, anti corruption protests spreading around the world. Our Occupy Wall Street protest that has spread across the globe owes its inception to the Arab Spring.

But this page too like every other page in the book of man is not clean or pristine. This page too has been washed in blood. Despite peaceful protests and civil disobedience, the transition has not been peaceful. This week saw the death of Moammar Gadaffi. Had he died in battle or crossfire, it probably would have not weighed on me. But he did not die in battle or crossfire, he was killed. I saw the newscast of his capture. The images were gruesome, the dictator was blood battered and a broken man, but very much alive. In fact he looked healthy and conscious enough to survive. However, somewhere down the line between his capture and death, someone or something intervened and he died a gruesome death.

Do our pages really need to be washed in blood? Do we really have to continue paying this price? Why do we find it so hard to forgive and be humans? Then again who am I to ask these questions. How dare I. A few months a go did I not say it was alright for Americans to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden. Did I not express joy in that blood wash and justify it. It can't be right for my freedom and not for theirs. In our dynamic changing world, blood in the name of freedom is a given. It is not Bin Laden, Gadaffi or anyone else. Everyday as we create glorious moments for our future generations to take pride in and cherish, we also wash those pages in blood.

Perhaps that is why Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi are such great heroes and brave souls. They have accomplished an incredible feat. Their pages of history are pristine and clean. There is absolutely no trace of blood, not a spot, or a slight stain here or there. Just clean white sheets until they ended in red. I wonder if history will ever have the likes of them again. I wonder if there will be more clean white sheets in the book of man. I wonder if the students of history tomorrow look back and see our pages, just the way I see Marie Antionette or the Romanovs.

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