Faida Hamdy was a
municipal inspector in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. She was not a very
respectful municipal official. So when she found that a young fruit
vendor did not have a license, she slapped him. She humiliated him
in front of others. The fruit vendor set
himself on fire, and this set the Arab world on fire, because the
same sort of disrespect from government officials was felt throughout
the Arab world. Disrespect
is a very powerful thing. And so is respect.
Fortunately, the leaders of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt had
been studying nonviolent techniques, techniques that demand and
earn respect. And they successfully applied these techniques.
I recently read Michael N. Nagler's fascinating book The
. Over the next few days, I will
be applying some of the concepts and practices of nonviolence to the field of government ethics. This
provides me with an opportunity to consider some of the most
important philosophical and practical questions in government ethics.