Saturday, January 15, 2011

Living in Interesting Times

Thanks to all of you for checking in on me. I am in Dubai to give a workshop, and Paige is in Tunis. Being apart is very hard, as you can imagine. Our neighbourhood is safe, and colleagues and neighours are taking good care of her. She has suddenly become a very good communicator. I’m not really worried for her safety. That said, they closed Tunisian airspace after the president fled, so I can’t go home and I can’t get Paige out. I doubt that the closure will last very long. I am betting the chaos will last a while longer. Ben Ali’s departure has created a power/security vacuum that human nature will fill as it often does – with bad behaviour.

The prime minister has stepped up, but he is such a puppet that I didn’t know until this morning that Tunisia had a PM and I had never heard his name. He won’t last either, because he is too close to the Ben Ali family and people are too angry to tolerate anyone with those links.

What is bothering me as much as anything is that I am here in Dubai while history is being made in Tunisia. I’m missing too much here!

It is interesting to be watching a hugely significant use of social networking. FaceBook was blocked by the Ben Ali regime until a couple of years ago when his daughter wanted an account. What the girls want, the girls get. (You Tube is still blocked. Guess she wasn’t in to videos.) This revolution was almost completely organized via Facebook and SMS messages. Ben Ali closed all schools and universities on Monday, using a strategy to keep people from fomenting change that worked twenty years ago. All it did was enrage people while giving both students and teachers ample time and space to organize using their social networking apps. Perfect.

I’ll keep you posted on events whenever I hear anything. In the meantime, the English Al Jezeera is a good source for information from this part of the world.

Much love.


1 comment:

  1. Interesting times indeed, and what unfortunate timing. Glad to hear you can communicate with home. Take care!