Spirit Quest


Spirit of the 'dignity revolution' spreading far and wide

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

A Dignity Revolution is what Carla Seaquist  calls the revolution in Egypt, in her excellent article in the Huffington Post, The Dignity Revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and ---- America (Feb. 10).
“This is a bedrock theme,” she writes, “the master chord echoing in the revolutions unfolding in Egypt and Tunisia in these historic weeks.”
Libya can now be added to this movement to capture “Dignity” for a people who have been deprived of that quality, who have been ruled by demagogs, kept subjugated by ruthless police while the rulers amassed fortunes which they stashed away off shore in numbered accounts.
These tyrants, such as Mubarak and Gadhafi, were determined to create dynasties of wealth and power that would outlast their own lives. Yemen and Bahrain and possibly more are waiting in the wings for their revolutions.
We have witnessed a domino affect at work in the countries of northern Africa and the Middle East. These people are no longer content to be powerless pawns. They have passed on to each other a thirst not for power or even wealth but for a sense of human dignity.
What we have witnessed since the beginning of this year is an awakening, an event that will go down in history. Undoubtedly there will be setbacks. There will be attempts to capture the movements, to short circuit them  back to new oligarchs. It may work for a time  but the hunger for dignity cannot be satisfied by sops.
In panic Mubarak promised substantial pay raises in the salaries for government employees and Gadhafi has followed suit, but this in itself was not enough to assuage that deeper hunger.
The history of humanity is about struggle for territory and power. Even the Magna Carta in the year 1215 was a demand for powersharing between the king and his lords. There were no commoners on the Island of Runnymede.
The wars of the last century were territorial and ideological but I believe that we are seeing a new kind of struggle. It is interesting to note that in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya there were no great leaders. They were spontaneous uprising encouraged and enabled by the so-called social media, Facebook and Twitter that called the people to the streets. The success of these revolutions will cause them to spread  to the many more states in the region and beyond where power cliques suppress common people.
So far the United States and European powers have remained on the sidelines engaged in extracting their nationals from harm’s way. At best they have been cheering sections for the people movments or threatening economic reprisals. In the past these countries have supported oligarchs such as Mubarek with billions of dollars of military aid.
Seaquist writes that “As an American, marveling at the monumental scope and moral rightness of these dignity revolutions, I cannot but wonder at the resonance of the notion here and wish for a greater measure of dignity in my own culture. To stand on one's dignity here is not to be cheered, but mocked. Without tracing our cultural history, I can say, without much fear of rebuttal: Dignity hasn't been seen or heard on these shores for a long, long time.”
Last Saturday 80,000 people marched to the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison as part of an ongoing protest against the newly elected Republican  Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to not just badger the state’s public employee union, but to break them. He got his way but a new movent has come into existence.
In Canada also we have seen peaceful protesters at the G20 Summit set upon by police, beaten, imprisoned without charges and later released, for the purpose of intimidation and the deprivation of dignity.
She concludes: “It is cognitive dissonance in the extreme to cheer the demand for dignity of peoples abroad when we deprived ourselves of this vital human quality (dignity) some time ago -- and did so voluntarily.”
We have much to learn from those revolutions, perhaps most of all to capture a thirst for a dignity that cannot be compared with wealth.
In our own land we have been humiliated by our government as they hide the truth from the public on the pretence that it may imperil our security. Canadians are adults and our government rules by the consent of its citizens.  Our sense of dignity demands that we be heard and respected.
There is a Spirit that is alive among people everywhere working to bring Dignity, Peace and Justice. Be open to that Spirit even in this favoured land.