A militia rolls into the airport and shuts down all air traffic, because they’re angry about something. Another militia goes into the offices of the electoral commission and burns ballots, because they’re upset about something. Officials from the International Criminal Court are arrested and later released, under suspicion of being spies.
– Eight months since the declaration of a new Libya and the end of Gaddafi’s rule, the steady stream of bizarre and sometimes dangerous activity continues in that country. As per the nature of media and stories that travel beyond its borders, these stories overshadow the positive developments that are also surely taking place. But the question becomes, despite the short amount of time that has passed, have the first steps in these critical months been the ones that will lead to a more just and peaceful future for the country? Are these isolated incidents that will pass, giving way to cooler heads and more rational conflict resolution?
There is perhaps no great point to speculating or judging for the first year or years, but I am reminded of old wisdom from both religious texts and human rights advocates throughout history on the subject of wars and bringing about change through violence. Violence begets violence. That doesn’t have to be 100% true in all cases, but in today’s Libya I see what seem to be signs of what happens, the side effects of bringing about much needed change by using violence. The guns haven’t gone away and more importantly, the wounds have not simply healed. The trauma continues to play out, and sadly, creates more victims long after the official war has ended.
Was there a better way to do it? Again, it is both too late and not the point. The point – is that the costs of what happened and how it was carried will continue to be felt for what seems like the foreseeable future. Those costs undermine the goals of creating a better country where people can live life without fear of their government or their neighbors.
Just over a year ago, Brian Conley found himself teaching workshops on new media reporting in a divided Libya. While Gadaffi clung to power and a war was fought, Brian and his team improvised their way around and experienced part of the excitement, fear, frustration, and joy.. not to mention all the other emotions that this very difficult conflict brought about. This month, one year since those first journeys around Libya, he is returning to pick up where he left off. These are his stories, setting the stage for a new adventure, one where his actions will help bring about a better future for a hopeful nation.
Sometimes you’re reading a book, attending a lecture, watching a film, or listening to an interview and a voice grabs you. The story grabs you. The combination of the story, the voice, and some unknown, undetectable qualities grab hold of you and they shake you somehow. You may have been paying attention, but now you’re really paying attention. You may have cared, but now you’re passionate. You may have had ideas, but you’re inspired.
Sarah Abdurrahman is one of those determined, inspired, and modest voices that pulled me into her world recently. A producer for On The Media, she has been heavily involved as a Libyan-American activist with the Feb 17th voices movement, or as properly known on twitter: @feb17voices. This group of people, including Sarah, are doing what they can to get real information about what is going on around Libya during this critical time. Its obviously no easy task and there is great risk for those on the ground, not to mention the fear of not succeeding that many have struggled with even before this amazing uprising.
In one poignient moment while being interviewed, Sarah speaks about her father, who decades ago was doing the exact same type of work only with different technology. She speaks about how the older generation has fought and feel that disillusioned after having not succeeded back then. She wants them to know their struggle is part of this struggle. She wants them to know what anyone who fights in this life for a better world wants to know: that they didn’t do so for nothing. That their lives have had purpose, and they are appreciated, and directly connected to everything happening now.
Do yourself a favor, be open to inspiration. Listen yourself to the fantastic Sarah Abdurrahman’s testimony. It won’t be the last time the world takes notice of her.