Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WTF? and what to do about it

my great-niece Eliza
It would be soooo much easier to spend my vacation days enjoying the great outdoors, visiting family, reading novels....

Why is every spare moment now in my 6th decade on Earth spent contacting like-minded and not so like-minded people to say WTF??? and what do we do about it?

Here's a list of lessons learned from my good friend Janet Weil out in California. She, too, cares about the future of our grandchildren yet unborn.
Very briefly, the lessons as I have absorbed them from the incredible courage and determination of the Egyptians (and others):

Have one central, easy-to-determine-if-it's-met demand with a few supporting demands, and STICK TO THEM;
Pick a place (or places if in more than 1 city) that is meaningful and remain there;
Turn out people with a sense of urgency and comraderie;
Stay turned out (have plans for "turnover" and getting new people coming in);
Establish some basic routines of controlling in/out process, check-ins, media, set up and clean up;
Create a culture of appreciation, support, courtesy, response to people's basic needs (the cleaning of Tahrir was so important!);
Commit to the seriousness of what's going on; stay when/after things get hard; take the blows and keep going;
and above all,
the people determine the narrative, the actions, the demands -- they are pro-active, not reactive, primarily.

Almost everything I've written applied to New Yorkers (and other Americans) after the 9/11 attacks. It's not like we don't know how to do these things; often we do them very well. We are all as fully human as the Egyptians, it's just that as a people we have been so numbed, distracted, enfeebled...
...well, not all of us!
And I would add one more thing it's clear they were doing in Cairo: read Gene Sharp's research on effective nonviolent resistance:   Here's the write up from NYT about its influence on events around the globe.

Don't do it for me, or Janet, or Gene. Do it for Eliza.

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