One Person CAN Change the World
Many novels, possibly the majority, revolve around a single character’s actions. And in many cases, the character is thrust into a position where he must challenge the status quo and fight “The Powers That Be.” It is a powerful message, especially in Western culture. We value the power of the individual to conquer the forces of evil, especially those who are well-established such as dictators.
We have plenty of great individuals in American history: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie Robinson, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, and thousands more who fought the powers. I have many in my own family, from my cousin Barney who I’ve been posting about, to my Uncle Oliver who earned medals in WWII flying dangerous missions into the Far East.
The events of the last few weeks highlight to world what the power of individual is all about, and how one man can take down an empire, especially a corrupt empire. It all start when Google employee Wael Ghonim created a Facebook page that led to a rally to honor the memory of Khaled Said, a man who was beaten to death by police last June. Fittingly, that protest on January 25 led to more beatings, detentions, and deaths of the protestors. Ghonim was arrested. For a while it seemed like once again, the forces of evil would prevail, and the budding revolution would be quashed.
But here’s the thing, novel writers. The thing to remember is that events always move forward, and once the genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be replaced. Doors are opened that cannot be shut. The protesters refused to leave Tahrir Square. The government tried everything. They “released the hounds” and sent gangs of thugs, some armed with guns, against the protesters. But the protesters were willing to die rather than surrender. The government tried arresting the people. They sent in the army, they arrested and beat up journalists, they closed off the internet, phones, and shut down transportation.
But the protesters still came. They grew. What started with one man putting up one Facebook page grew into a Revolution. The government tried pleading, bargaining with the protesters, giving them small concessions and freeing the detainees. Too little, way too late.
This morning, the Mubarak administration fell, literally without a shot being fired by the protesters. Ghonin called into CNN and said, (I’m paraphrasing), “my work here is done. I just want to go back to my job.” A classic Reluctant Hero. One can only hope he stays involved and help shape the future of Egypt.
When you are writing you own novels, think about what those protesters faced, how hard the opposition was (not to mention the freezing nights, lack of food, water, sleep, and sanitation), and how through sheer perseverance and sticking to their principals, they were ultimately able to overcome the great odds stacked in their favor. If you can capture even a portion of the emotion the Egyptians felt in this process, from utter despair to sheer joy, you’re probably in good shape.