Arab Spring: Where will the air of freedom be breathed next?

Protests in Jordan

The most nervous people in the Middle East today are the despotic leaders of Arab countries and those in their inner circle. Citizenry that we heretofore have never from are now joining protests in the streets of some of the most closed civil societies in the world.

The airs of Spring that found their way to Tunisia and Egypt are now in Libya. Although Gadafhi has stalled the freedom’s progress and he has shown no qualms spilling the blood of his own people, it is nearly certain that his brutality only makes it more like that he too will “die by the sword,” or at least be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

Now, the leader of Yemen is negotiating his departure

What’s next?

Syria is on the brink, with Syrian troops killing perhaps 100 protesters. President Assad has released protesters who were arrested and promised dramatic reforms; a proposal rejected by the opposition.

In Bahrain, while the king has temporarily stamped out unrest, the protests and unrest have brought the economy to a standstill.

Even in Gaza, a poll said 67% of Gazans believe there is a need for demonstrations in Gaza demanding regime change. Change Demonstrations.

And where does this wind of freedom blow and what will be the result of people freed from an oppressor when they know little of what freedom is and can be? That is the mystery of the Arab spring, and all quests for freedom that may not release people from what really enslaves them.

 Freedom XIV by Khalil Gibran

 And an orator said, “Speak to us of Freedom.”

And he answered:

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,

Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.

Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,

But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.

And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?

If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.

You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.

For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.

And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.

And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.


About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group ( Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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One Response to Arab Spring: Where will the air of freedom be breathed next?

  1. Joseph Ellis says:

    Great article. The time is ripe for freedom in Arab countries, and it will be interesting to see where all of this goes.

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