By Maisha Todd
The Arab Spring of 2010 was well known for its uprisings in countries like Egypt and Syria, which started out promising but did not end that way. On the other hand, the tiny country of Tunisia, which was also very much involved in its protests for liberation from authoritative rule, is just catching our attention now. Not for unrest and violence this time, but for its attempt to peacefully resolve it through a much underrated action – dialogue, all done by local civil society groups called the National Dialogue Quartet.
This post will not look at the heavy political intricacies of the Quartet (I am sure they have done a great job of it themselves, as well many other media sources), but rather the importance of honoring individuals and groups who do work in order to bring about actual and measurable peace, especially during crucial times such as what Tunisia was going through when the Quartet stepped in. I believe such groups are only recognized within their own networks and not the broader public.
This is where I find myself being thankful of the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize actually exists. Their contribution to the world by awarding individuals who are working hard to change social, economic and political change for the better is much needed, considering that it is a prestigious award itself.
Getting the Nobel Peace Prize is also a gateway for awardees to not stop there, since they now have more exposure to other opportunities, such as being the face of magazines like Time and Esquire, and start their own foundations. At the same time, it encourages others to have a figure to look up to that is not in mainstream media as much as the Kardashians or Taylor Swift etc. have! (They have enough fame already) We need more Malalas!
The premise of my argument may not be strong enough to some of you. But in my opinion, there is a need for the good to be glamorized, the “good” here being the people who are working hard to make a positive impact and who deserve their faces being in the front page cover of Rolling Stone magazine. They are the true rock stars, not like a man who made a conscious decision to carry out a mass killing in Boston. Think about it, shouldn’t the ones who were willing to run the marathon for a cause be the faces we remember? Instead we all recall Tsarnaev’s face.
This article is my encouragement for others to hold our kind-hearted and benevolent groups, figures and even friends who are taking action, on a realistic pedestal; to acknowledge them as human beings (not non achievable models) who are worthy of praise; to share their stories and enlighten others to follow their footsteps.
Congratulations to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. You give us courage to change the world through effective and non-violent communication.