i don't have many regrets, which is a good thing. but lately i have been wishing i was back in academia.
when i was in graduate school i studied transitions to democracy. i was fascinated by the way countries became fed up with living under a dictator or military rule and started a revolution to overthrow the existing regime. the area of the world that i was drawn to was latin america. during the 1980's there was a domino effect of revolutions and revolts, what political scientists refer to as the third wave of democracy. of course during that period, there was no internet, no facebook or twitter. you had to learn about what was going on through news media which was more often than not controlled by the regime. there was no way to have accurate, real time information. no way to know that people were being tortured and killed. of course everyone suspected that was taking place, but it wasn't until democracy was rooted and the old players were no longer players that we had a complete picture of what actually took place.
i watch the news every night and say to myself, "we are witnessing the 4th wave of democracy" in the middle east. and this time it is a warp speed thanks to social media. this is an exciting time to be a student of international politics, old school revolutions are merging with modern technology and the voices of the people are actually being heard. i suspect that there will be a number of countries who will have a regime change in the coming months.
watching all this unfold, makes me long to be in the classroom helping students understand what the world is witnessing. showing them that the people's voice does matter and that they can create change. i long to study how social media is shaping politics in countries where the majority of the population does not have a smart phone, use facebook or tweet their daily activities, yet these countries are using their voices along with social media to put an an end to their oppressive governments. sure all the unrest has some negative effects and we will probably pay more for gas. but to be honest, if i have to pay more for gas so that women are no longer tortured, children can play without being afraid and people have a better quality of life, that is fine by me.
we are watching history unfold before our eyes. no matter what political party you claim, what the world is witnessing is inspiring, courageous and fascinating. i encourage you to take notice.