To change the world

Picture a waterfall. The water slides over the edge and descends, picking up energy on the way down, speeding its way along the river’s course. Now consider thought. Like water, thoughts flow through a culture, a nation, an international organization, the world. Sometimes seemingly earthshaking thoughts expected to recalibrate everything pass away very quickly. On the other hand, simple thoughts can surprise everyone with their major transformative powers. 

In his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell wrote some years ago about seemingly small changes that suddenly cause trends or behaviors to “tip” in a direction. This book was often mentioned in commentaries about the demand for human rights and freedom—the “Arab spring” in North Africa and the Middle East. 

Commentators saw the tipping point in the death of Tunisian fruit seller, Mohamed Bouazizi. When his fruit stand was confiscated by police and government officials refused to help, Bouazizi chose to immolate himself. Little did anyone know then that this one act would open up a firestorm for freedom in the Arab world that is still going on. 

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August 8, 2011

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