I watch amazed as the events in Iran unfold. Who knows how this will turn out.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhN0ICaNsN0 More often than not, the common people do not fair well when they stand opposed to a tyrannical regime but I have hope. The eyes of the world are upon them. My eyes are upon them. These are not my enemies. The people of Iran look all too human to me. They do not appear to be the ghastly nuclear bomb building “other”. When I see the pictures and look in their faces, I see my neighbors, my family. Their expressions of fear, hope, and defiance bind me to them. I am empathetic. I hope for their safety and well being. I yearn for their freedom.
I have watched similar events in my lifetime; the civil rights movement in the U.S., Prague Spring, Wounded Knee, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the Tiananmen Square Protest. But, one incident stands out quite vividly in my memory, the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. I was in 8th grade, 14 years old I think. Vice President Hubert Humphrey was about to receive the nomination of the party for the Presidency of the U.S. I still think he would have made a good President. Instead, we elected Richard Nixon. To place this political convention in context, four years earlier Lyndon Johnson had steamrolled Barry Goldwater with over 61% of the popular vote. And now the power brokers of this political machine were preparing to win the presidency again. Outside in the streets of Chicago, however, the people had other ideas. A very unpopular war was being waged by the United States in Southeast Asia. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not yet producing inclusion for the disenfranchised. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April of 1968 and Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in June of 1968. Other massive riots occurred that summer in the U.S.
The riots of Chicago in 1968 are particularly memorable for me because they were well covered. All of the major news organizations were present and the eyes of the world were upon them, both those in power and those in the streets. Then the chant began, “the whole world is watching!” And, we were.
Today, I am not watching the events in Iran on television. Major television networks were slow to pick up the story. And now, the Iranian government is taking the camera away from big media. I am watching through Twitter. If this is new to you, there is a pretty good post on Mashable about how to use it to watch the unfolding events in Iran. Currently, my client refreshes about every 30 seconds and chirps 40 and 50 new messages at a time from #iranelection. Pictures, video, and reports are coming through from people on the streets in Iran by the second. The Iranian government is trying to stop it but it is hard to gather up devices that can be carried in your front pocket. A cell phone is all that is needed to report to the world. Other people in the world are watching and suggesting ways to keep the channels of communication open.
The right to be free is powerful. People have and are giving their lives for it. There is a change in this event, however. The people of the world are talking and listening to each other. A communication revolution is underway. Common people see their brothers and sisters trampled and will not remain silent. The whole world is watching and tweeting.
(cross posted to my personal blog http://www.digitallymark.com)