Published 22 February 20111 June 2012 · Main Posts On waking up Clare Strahan Egypt. A revolution on the scale of the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, the Women’s Revolution. Millions are changing everything because they can’t bear the oppression any longer; because they’ve captured the imagination of another way. Iran, Yemen, Bahrain … Egypt’s imagination inspired by Tunisia. Tunisia inspired by … Facebook? Well, clearly Facebook is just one moment in a long history. But whose? @tomcopy’s tweet: ‘So glad Mubarak is gone. I’ve despised him ever since I read about him on Wikipedia two weeks ago’ might sound hideously flip, but in the context of the twitter stream, it made sense and clearly, plenty of Twitter users could relate to it. Beyond a capitalist construct of lies I have long resisted, I don’t know much about the political history and even less about the modern face of the Arab nations. I am new to a first-name relationship with the leaders of the governments and struggled to name all the countries that comprise the region. Reprehensible, considering ‘my country’ is waging an unjust war on some of the locals. I’d like to think it’s just me, but suspect I may not be the greatest of the least informed. Remarkable, heart-rending Internet coverage of the (long overdue) fall of Hosni Mubarak has let any old tweetster get involved in the Egyptian revolution, even if it’s only to talk about it; to float ideas that challenge the theocracy/autocracy model the West seems so attached to for Arab peoples, to share thought and discourse, expose fearmongering and generally deepen understanding of international affairs. Live coverage by Al Jazeera (English) is riveting. Tweeters, bloggers and journalists are writing about it, from within and without, and people are reading. And learning. And waking up. It’s easy to feel we ‘should know’ this and that, be informed, stay informed and humans are quick to mock, to scoff, to look down on the asker of the ‘stupid question’, the poor fool who doesn’t know who the president of Yemen is. To admit you don’t know something, haven’t sought out an experience, have let the corporate media and the general malaise shape your thinking about the politics of the world, is to admit a failure and that is unacceptable: perhaps it’s easier to bury your head in the ground than risk facing the ‘known unknowns’. But for privileged Australians with access to the Internet, there are no more excuses for apathy and ignorance. If others can face down rubber bullets, teargas and worse, perhaps we can risk asking a question or two. And it’s okay to start where you are in this self-education, this reprogramming, this adventure of the mind and heart. Isn’t it? I mean, where else can one begin? I spoke part of Shelley’s poem ‘The Masque of Anarchy’ at an orientation day today, for students training to be schoolteachers. Ignorant and unworthy as I am, I dedicated it to the peoples of the so-called ‘Middle East’ and their risk of all for freedom; in support of a new way of thinking about what is possible in the world. Tonight, it seems just as relevant for the Australian public. Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number, Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you — Ye are many — they are few Clare Strahan Clare Strahan is a two-time novelist with Allen & Unwin publishers, long-ago contributing editor to Overland, and teaches in the RMIT Professional Writing & Editing Associate Degree. More by Clare Strahan › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 10 November 202311 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the final day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s most important members get to have their say Editorial Team BORIS A quick guide to another year of Overland, from your trusty feline, Boris. I liked the ginger cat story, though it made my human cry. I liked the talking cat, too, but I’m definitely in the “not wasting my time learning to talk” camp. But reading is good. And writing is fun, though it’s been challenging […] 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 9 November 20239 November 2023 · Subscriberthon 2023 On the second-last day of Subscriberthon, Overland’s co-chief editor Evelyn Araluen speaks truth to power Editorial Team To my friends and comrades, I’m not sure if there’s language to communicate how this last month has utterly changed me. This time a few weeks ago the busyness and chaos of bricolage arts and academic labour had so efficiently distracted me from my anxiety about the upcoming referendum that I forgot to prepare myself for its inevitable conclusion.