Collective will is the most powerful force in the universe. If a people are oppressed, dominated, and manipulated, then those people eventually will take their future into their own hands. When a people is devoted to a cause, and when they are made to be outraged enough, they will respond with an outpouring of their fear and their hatred and will fight to take what they believe is owed to them. No external force can eternally resist pressure from a people who share a common idea of what they want.
But that does not always stop everyone from trying. In non-democratic governments, regime change is often a violent and contentious issue, bringing the people into conflict with the state. If the leader does not yield to the wishes of the people, then the stage is set for a confrontation. The state against the people. And if the people are angry enough, if the people believe in what they are fighting for, they will get it. For what is a government, if not an institution of the people over the people? How can an extension of the people themselves continue resisting the wishes of those they are supposed to lead? How can any people continue to allow themselves to be marginalized forever?
They cannot. And so we see riots and rebellions, people fighting for their rights and for their freedoms. We see peoples becoming frustrated, and this frustration leads to a desire, nay, a need for change. And when pushed far enough, the people will push back.
These pushes do not always result in immediate success. Wenceslas Square, Prague. 1968. Tienanmen Square, Beijing. 1989. Neither resulted in victory for the people demanding change. But the Czechoslovakian people did not forget their devotion to freedom, and 20 years later, once again rose up and took charge of their own fate. China has not yet reached that point, though it is slowly inching towards political freedom. But have the Chinese people given up on fighting for their rights? To say they have would be insulting.
It is fascinating, then, to learn about the struggles of people who are as we speak fighting for what they believe is right. The Tunisian people fought their battle against Ben-Ali. From there, the winds of change swept to Yemen, Algeria, Sudan, and, most strikingly, Egypt. It is this last one that has grabbed the world’s attention – every movement made by the protesters in Tahrir Square is eagerly recorded and written about by the international media. The narrative of the Egyptian protests has focused the world’s gaze onto a single Middle Eastern country as a representation of things to come.
The protests in Egypt are about the people finally acting on their emotions, about finally standing up to an oppressor that they believe has been around for far too long. They are about people standing up for themselves, and refusing to be cowed even in the face of aggression. They are about people! Whatever one may think on the validity of the protester’s concerns, none can deny the strength such demonstrations have. The millions demonstrating in Cairo are fighting for their own future – and is that not a a just goal no matter the reason?
Northing can stand forever in the face of collective opposition. Not Mubarak, nor any other leader in history. A people will always continue fighting for what they believe should be theirs – and with that belief, any obstacle can be overcome.