Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Lessons We Can Learn From Egypt"

Egyptians protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square, April 1, 2011. (Photo: Andrea Bruce / The New York Times

Mehrdad Azemun:
In the wake of such a massive, popular and nonviolent win like the Egyptian Revolution and with the seemingly similar phenomenon of Occupy movements sweeping the US, it is easy to want to sift for gold in the form of organizing lessons. But for a moment, let us also remember that Egypt is simply a different society, economy and country than our own. Just because some lessons look attractive does not mean they are transferable.

That said, the most valuable organizing nugget I carried back with me is the continual necessity for acting and thinking boldly. As an organizer here in the US, I was taught to be pragmatic and practical - go for what you can win in a specific time horizon. As an organizer, we ask leaders to dream, to name the things that hold them back from being happy, free and prosperous. And then, we set limits on those dreams, or cut them into bite-sized chunks that are so small, they sometimes bear little resemblance to the massive, audacious canvas that the leaders first painted for us. We negotiate ourselves down before we even get to the real negotiation table. MORE..
Howie P.S.: "Mehrdad Azemun is national field director for National People's Action, based in Chicago, Illinois."

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