Yesterday, listening to a discussion of the astonishing Russian protests against reportedly rigged elections, I couldn’t help but think of Mohammed Bouaziz. He was the 26 year-old Tunisian fruit seller whose self-immolation nearly a year ago sparked the Arab Spring.
The Arab Spring continues to inspire uprisings worldwide — Israel, Spain, Occupy Wall Street, and now Russia. The on-the-scene reporter in Russia yesterday marveled at the protesters’ lack of fear when the police showed up. In the past, she said, the appearance of police sent protesters scurrying for safety. Not anymore.
Obviously, there is no way, no way that 26 year-old could possibly have imagined how his actions would resonate throughout the world. He was an unknowing messenger of hope and courage. I believe his actions said, “Enough is enough. The time for change is now. Be brave. Be strong. You are not alone.”
Sometimes I take comfort from the idea that we’re all just pawns in the giant chess game of history. That relieves the burden of trying to carry the the whole world on my shoulders. However, unlike pawns, we move ourselves. We should choose those moves wisely, because we — like the Tunisian fruit seller — cannot know what lessons those around us will take from our actions.
Often, though, the messenger is close to home. For me, most recently, the messenger was Amy Noyes, a friend and former work colleague while I was at Home Share Now. I knew she’d written a book on non-toxic house cleaning — I’d even seen a copy of the book’s Chinese printing. Very impressive!
It wasn’t until Amy came to The Happiness Paradigm Store and Experience to do a demonstration that I finally understood: using items like vinegar and baking soda to clean can lead to greater health and happiness for me, and greater help and happiness for the planet (I know I’m behind the curve here, that many of you figured this out long ago).
Messages don’t land in vacuums. Amy’s message finally resonated with me because I am using happiness as a frame for her book Nontoxic Housecleaning .
Also, thanks to the dramatic shift in U.S. zeitgeist brought on by Occupy Wall Street, I can now appreciate how changing my cleaning ways is a statement against corporate power and greed. Really, who makes all those fancy-schmanzy cleaning products that are so colorfully displayed in the grocery store, and who makes all the ads trying to convince us to buy things we don’t need? Lotions and potions that may well undermine our well being, and that of the planet? Occupy the kitchen!
It may surprise Amy to know what her visit taught me. Similarly, I suspect, all of us might be surprised to know where, when, and how our words and actions were especially meaningful to others. If you chance to watch It’s a Wonderful Life this holiday season, remember — it’s not just George Bailey. We’re all having wonderful lives.