It was with more than just a tinge of guilt that I drove my son and nephew across town this morning in my aging SUV. Working in construction for the last twelve years has made it easy for me to justify driving a gas-guzzling truck. But as we watch the domino of events unfold in north Africa, I can’t help but think about how I’ve helped to make a man like Gaddafi ridiculously rich while his people have suffered.
Thomas Friedman’s recent op-ed piece for the New York Times has brought the uprisings in the Arab world much closer to home for me. Friedman’s assertion is basically that the United States has knowingly turned a blind eye to deplorable actions by leaders of oil rich countries. As long as the oil keeps flowing, we don’t really care what they do to their citizens. The “oil flow/blind eye” policy has allowed characters like Gaddafi to keep his people locked in time for decades on end. A 2002 United Nations report warned of the enormous social deficits growing in the Arab world, essentially predicting unrest.
Apparently the pot has boiled over and its due in large part to the ability of the youth in these countries to organize demonstrations and share information through social networking. Coincidentally, The Social Network movie just arrived in our mailbox yesterday. So after I battle traffic to get home in my SUV, I will likely watch a movie about a social networking revolution that has subsequently revolutionized revolutions.