It’s frustrating to feel like nothing you do matters. In isolation, we have very little effect on the world. It’s only in aggregate, by organizing with other people that large changes — social chain reactions — can happen. Sometimes it’s done purposefully, as in the case of universal suffrage or the civil rights movement. Sometimes we don’t even realize what we’ve been organized to do, as with our present efforts to terraform the Earth. A few weeks ago I was completely absorbed by the uprising in Egypt. I don’t watch live video much (and no TV), and I was glued to Al Jazeera, and temporarily subscribed to a dozen actively twittering people in Cairo. Then my sister sent me a link to a live hummingbird cam, which was jarringly disconnected from what I’d been immersed in, which looked more like this:
Congressional Research Service report on the implications of the Egyptian revolution for US foreign policy (pdf). Also has good background on the nature of our relationship with Egypt, including our ongoing aid package and political pressures.
A warning from the UN Development Project in 2002 describing the problems and frustrations of the Arab world. Chief among them western support for their oppressive dictatorships. It’s not like we didn’t know there was a problem here. We just chose to ignore it. America FTW!
Another thing that cities do is make revolution possible. Which is interesting to think about, given that more than half the humans now live in cities, many of them in relatively poor, relatively un-free conditions.