The force of the few has many shapes and forms across history and includes such disparate groups as Hitler’s Brownshirts and Jefferson’s colonial objectors. It cuts both ways for good and evil but for the most part the list is pretty negative:
- The Taliban in Afghanistan
- Druglords in Columbia
- Suicide bombers in Israel and Iraq
- 9/11 airliner hijackers
- The Milosovic gang in Yugoslavia
- Power brokers in Ukraine
- Syrian influence in Lebanon
and of course the list could go on and on, sweeping across broad swaths of Africa, South America and Asia.
Mostly the abuses have gone on uninterrupted since the end of the Second World War, when the music suddenly stopped and whatever power existed at the moment grabbed the chairs vacated by colonial interests. East and West separated uneasily, punched out and hanging on the ropes to glare at one another across the coming decades. It wasn’t a good time for masses of world population and is only now beginning to show movement in the direction of collective freedoms.
We are moving away from the forces of the few to the power of the many. Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel parented the movement, bringing about change in Czechoslovakia and Poland with peaceful demonstrations in the streets . . . and the world caught its breath. Ten years later, crowds in Belgrade would not disperse over a period of weeks that threatened to become months until Slobodan Milosovic stepped down. Ukraine changed its destiny with crowds in the streets, who similarly would not go away. Palestine has done the same and now Lebanon. Yes, there is power in standing in the cold.
You can machine gun people and maybe put them in jail until the jails are full and the army and police get sick to their stomachs and flat-out quit. The few can strap explosives to themselves and blow up restaurants, but their day is not beginning, indeed their sun is setting. People who will not go away have mastered Ghandi’s lesson, fifty years after Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s some forty years after his death.
The few will not rule. The many do not have to wait for democracy, they have it in their feet and their presence and their solidarity . . . Walesa’s term.