Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Revolutions, success, and failure

I think it's interesting when so many events in my life blur together.

I read the first book in The Hunger Games Trilogy in January and started reading Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea right after. It was amazing to see the similarities in the two books and realize that the world portrayed in The Hunger Games, a world I thought was too fictional to exist, exists. Minus the whole gaming part. But seriously, North Korea is in a bad way.

And while I was plotting in my little mind how to shout out to North Korea: Hey, you guys! There's a whole world out here! (And we have the internet!) You can be free! You all just need to join forces and pull down the regime. That's all...

(That's kind of where my message fizzled because I don't really know how to overthrow a powerful government so could offer North Korea no good advice on the matter.)

Anyway, while I was plotting in my little mind about how to overthrow North Korea, Egypt started its revolution. And I thought to myself, "If only North Korea could do this, too!" It seems that almost anyone who saw anything about the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, and who were fed up with being oppressed by tyrants, decided that overthrowing the government was the thing to do in 2011. If only North Korea knew about it; I'm sure they would have hopped on the band wagon, too.

While the Egypt was still in the throes of its own revolution, Andrew and I started watching the John Adams miniseries. It was so interesting to learn about America's revolution while monitoring the situation in Egypt so closely. We finished the series not too long ago and then just last week my mom invited us to go see A Tale of Two Cities at the Hale in Salt Lake City.

For those of you who don't know, A Tale of Two Cities is about the French revolution. Technically, it's a commentary on the French revolution because it's completely fictional, but it's a very touching story nonetheless. I cried. So did my mom.

Revolutions, by definition, carry a certain amount of risk. I had many people tell me, during the Egyptian revolution, that "history" shows us that revolutions rarely work, that, instead of achieving a greater good, revolutions, more often than not, merely pave the way for some tyrannical maniac to take over and make things worse than they were before.

History, though, shows you whatever you're looking for, rather like statistics—if you look for a pattern long enough you're bound to find one.

The list of notable revolutions is not a short one and I'm sure if you went through and examined it you'd find it riddled with both successes and failures. Many revolutionary failures have had long-lasting and dreadful consequences; however, there is no way for anyone to know ahead of time what side is going to win or if, heaven forbid, something bad will happen. What would the world be like if all the revolutionaries stayed at home all day because they were afraid they'd fail or make things worse instead of fighting for what they'd believe in?

Nothing bad would happen—they surely wouldn't fail—but nothing good would happen, either. They'd have no chance of success. And if nothing good is happening then that's bad.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, "It's hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."*

Stability is comfortable, but change is necessary and becomes easier with practice. So, what if a revolution brings about something terrible? History shows that eventually freedom wins. John Adams said, "Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty,"** and I agree with him one hundred percent. In the Mormon faith we're taught that "agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and act for ourselves." Because God endowed us with the ability and privilege to choose and act for ourselves, we crave freedom. And because it's something we want to have and something God wants us to have, Satan is constantly trying to take it away from us.

This post is getting a little too involved for me. I feel like I'm tripping over my words because, like Crystal, I'm used to only ever talking about My Little Ponies and the proper way to prepare macaroni and cheese. Also, it's definitely time for bed.

* Chicago, IL, April 10, 1899
** The Novanglus, 1775

1 comment:

  1. I am so with you. Enough of the doom and gloom about Arab revolutions. Watching these people fighting for the basic freedoms I grew up with makes me appreciate it all so much more. Here in Tunisia, the people have been on the streets demonstrating for three whole months. They finally have a date for their first free elections. And certain elements of the Western press are still prognosticating chaos, radical Islamism or military takeover. Let's keep some optimism here!