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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"We are not alone, the world is in Tehran"

The tweets come in at the rate of 2 per second. I would have died for this much information from Poland during its darkest days. As it was, we counted on National Public Radio and the television networks. They did what they could but it was never enough. It was never even close to enough. In the horrible days after Martial Law was declared in December, 1981, there were no telephones, no snail mail and we hung on every word of every foreigner who came out from Poland, "what about this street? were the photographs from the Academy of Science really true, were there tanks?" We were desperate for information about friends, colleagues. Who had been arrested? Where were they being taken? More than anything, I was overwhelmed with grief for my friends, for the trauma they were feeling and facing in the days to come. It was months before I had any useful information. Months. And that was, for then, normal. Now, in the time I've taken to write this, my TweetDeck reports that another 140 tweets have come in. I get a chirp every twenty seconds or so. Since I started this paragraph, I've received 40! And since then, 60 more. It's the middle of the night in Tehran and it's not quiet. Or peaceful. This only serves to remind that the peaceful transformations in eastern Europe twenty years ago were not then, and not now in memory, to be taken for granted. For those who wait here tonight for news from Iran, I'm not sure if it is better or not to have all of this graphic data in real time -- cars burning, gunshots exchanged between police and protesters firing from apartment windows. But surely this is good news, a tweet that just came, "we are not alone, the world is in Tehran tonight." We matter to one another. We do.

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