A new year. What of the one passing? I cannot help but reflect on our tumultuous 2011. Through the utilization of technology, the world provided the world, quite simply, a view of itself.
In my experience, I were able to meet and speak to utterly brave people who endured grave sacrifice in order to make this world a better place.
I am humbled by such things.
From Tunisia to America, and every nation between, uprisings have been the headlines of every newspaper, broadcast, article and discussion. It is not through any major network I found truth, more so through the mouths of those living in each situation as it occurred.
Five days after the Tunisian Revolt, I met and interviewed a brave young woman, who, for the first time was able to speak freely, no longer ruled beneath the regime of Ben Ali. I met her in New York in 2011.
I watched news feeds from Abbottabad, Pakistan as the death of Osama bin Laden was about to occur before the world knew. Live in front of my eyes, one man told the world what he was seeing and hearing.
In Yemen, sustainable goods such as food, water and basic needs was made possible from reputable organizations wishing to give, not knowing how to connect. Through the tireless work of countless streams of activists that responded to a simple message: "I have orgs wishing to aid Yemen, please reply" - aid reached those who needed it.
Bahrain provided me with the honor of translating an essential video, an apology from a mainstream journalist. All I did was respond to the message I had seen: "Need help translating this video." So I did.
Egypt. I sat here and cried watching death occur before my eyes, not being able to do anything but tell others what I were seeing. The courage of people left to themselves to be brutalized twice by police and military caused me to be grateful for all that I have. The words of one of my brothers will stay with me forever: "Do not worry about me, I would rather die in honor than live a slave."
Palestine. Oh, Palestine. I can write volumes on this. The numerous boats to Gaza, the intifadas online and globally scattered individuals joining hands to support such a heinous abomination of one people was and is downright righteous. The murder of Vittorio Angiolini was absolutely horrendous, beyond evil, and leaves a deep chasm inside of my heart.
America. Occupy Together, Occupy Wall Street. I sat on my porch and thought: "I need to be a part of this, it began in my state. New York" - just to see that Occupy Buffalo had already begun in my own city. This movement has spread internationally. It is by far the most horrific and tremendous action to occur in America since the Civil Rights Movements in the 1960's.
Pakistan. Far too much has occurred to write of this evening, yet through the people of Pakistan, and I do mean throughout the entire nation; medical aid for dengue and financial aid for those still affected by the 2010 floods [food, water and tents] reached its destinations. Again, through people who cared enough to respond and act. The murder of investigative journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad caused me to write about why he were no longer here. That led me to Afghanistan where I were translated to Dari.
Afghanistan led me to where I am today.
Looking at 2012.
I write this last evening of 2011 not to say: "I did this" or "They did that" or to not include any nation or its people, rather to give everyone reading this short note a simple reminder:
You do and can make a difference. You do not need to leave your home. You do not need to leave your city or town. You do not have to be rich nor do you have to travel to any nation. You need not win any award, speak at any conference or be a global ambassador to the world.
All you need is a heart, a little bit of courage to be yourself and to believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing.
That to me is success. You see, it begins within and spreads throughout.
Every single one of us have the same tools.
How are you going to utilize yours in 2012?