Over the last weeks and the weeks before I’ve been glued to my pc, any pc, and now I’m trying to work out why I have felt so engaged. I didn’t know anyone in Tunisia. I knew two persons in Egypt I consider friends. I had no family there, I had never even visited either country.
But nothing comes just out of the blue. When I started writing fiction in the early nineties much of my unpublished work dealt with events in the GDR, a country I had visited and one in which I had family and friends. At around the same time I had the privilege in my day job of working closely with the late Pekka Tarjanne and being exposed to his ideas about the right to communicate. Shortly before I stepped out of a career and into my present life, I heard the dissident Tunisian journalist, Sihem Bensedrine, speak in Geneva. Her words were powerful, but apart from like minds, no one was listening on that eve of the Tunis World Summit on the Information Society.
Mixed in with all this was an estranging from my own country, Australia. Then came Wikileaks, a trip to the Emirates, the Queensland floods, events in Tunisia, and those in Egypt. On the latter, I felt the traditional press to be slow on the uptake and so I turned to blogs, Facebook and Twitter for news. I watched for a while, and soon I had “news” networks of selected voices, alternative and traditional press. The world was changing: world politicians and international organisations remained silent, individuals and non-profits were filling the void, exercising their right to communicate. Wikileaks, Common Dreams, Salon, Antony Loewenstein, among others, including individual reporters, Al Jazeera and, yes, Anonymous, became trusted sources of information.
I thought for a moment that the world would be a better place without politicians, but this of course is extremely naïve. Could it be then that it’s no longer just within the realm of countries, nor even corporations as such? Could it be a simple matter of certain “clubs” of unseen individuals, with their own international networks, persons and groupings who are desperate to maintain the status quo and who give a whole new meaning to “the buck stops here”?
Wikileaks has exposed, is exposing, the greed and the lies, the wheeling, dealing and puppeteering, but it is the youth of Egypt, in their dignity, courage, determination, and with humour, who have charted our way towards a new inclusive humanity. For this I thank them from the bottom of my heart, on behalf of my own daughter, and on behalf of the child I once was and still am.
Causes Sylvia Petter Supports
International PEN (Sydney)
Indigenous Literacy Project (Australia)