Friday, March 18, 2011

Revolution

This whole Libya/Bahrain thing is kind of crazy and infuriating. When it first started all I could think is "Why don't we do something!" Weeks have gone by. Interest has lapsed. Nothing has happened. I put together this note yesterday and was figuring I would send it to...I don't know...Globe and Mail? PM's office? Not that it would do much. And then we finally did something about it. Maybe.

I do not have a degree in History. I am not an expert on Foreign Policy. However, I am of Hungarian descent. I’ve grown up with a minor fascination with the country of my father’s birth and with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

I’m a bit na├»ve and idealistic when it comes to things like the Hungarian Revolution. The Hungarians were under the impression that if they threw a Revolution the world would join them. They had the moral support and rhetorical backing of the Western World, and then they were sacrificed due to political considerations and preoccupation with other, “more pressing” crises. It always seemed crazy to me that something like this could be allowed to happen. I always thought this was a function of clouded, cold war thinking and I never thought that something like that would be allowed to happen again. But here we are. The parallels are striking.


Once again we have a popular revolt against a sadistic leader. We’ve thrown our words behind the revolutionaries in support, but little else. We have dramatic events unfolding in another part of the world and it’s an easy diversion for our attention. We’re letting powerful countries with less than noble concerns bully us out of action. What are we afraid of? Oil prices might rise? China will cut us off as a trade partner? Russia won’t let us play hockey at the next Olympics? Terrorists will interrupt our day at the mall?

Doing nothing is easy. There will always be consequences to our actions. I for one would rather face a few negative consequences after doing the right thing than enable the violent crushing of a revolution through inaction. Twenty years from now they will teach this moment in History classes and this will be our shame. Canada earned a reputation long ago for fighting above its weight class. We were that little kid that rallied the older kids to take on the bully. Now, we just go eat fries in the cafeteria while the bully beats up the preschoolers.

The irony is that if the Hungarian Revolution had succeeded, I probably wouldn't be here today. But it has always troubled me that things happened the way they did. Granted, there isn't really a great history in this world of interventions on the behalf of freedom. But shit, you have to stand for something, you know?