On December 17, 2010, a young Tunisian named Mohammed Bouazizi walked up to a local government building and set himself on fire. Earlier that day, the police had confiscated his pushcart for selling vegetables, again. When he tried to pay the fine to get it back, the officer slapped him around, spat in his face, and insulted his dead father.
Having silently endured such humiliations and injustice for years, Bouazizi decided it was time to speak up. So he went to the local government office to file a complaint. Unfortunately, he received about the same treatment from the local authorities as he had from the police. Apparently, this was one injustice too many. An hour later he returned to the government building, doused his body with fuel, and set himself on ablaze. He died a few weeks later.
But when Bouazizi struck that match, it wasn't just himself he was setting on fire, it was the nation itself. People took to the streets in protest, and within weeks the dictatorial government of Tunisia had toppled. And it didn't end there. Sparks from that revolutionary fire drifted eastward, and soon there were flames in the streets of Cairo, and that government came down as well. Currently, like brushfire, protests are breaking out all across that region, as people take to the streets in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Iran.
For weeks now we've been watching it unfold on the nightly news, wondering what to make of it all. Should we stand up and cheer or run for cover? On Sunday mornings we've been praying, but do we know what we're praying for?
I was at the health club the other day. Usually I like to get lost in my own thoughts when I exercise, but on this day I couldn't keep my eyes off one of the TV monitors on the wall which showed footage ...
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