From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society.
He was a poor 26-year-old trying to eke out a living and help pay for his sisters’ schooling. He met the deep corruption of the Tunisian regime face to face in the most everyday and humiliating way — in the form of bribes he couldn’t afford just to keep his little stand open and the power of a bureaucracy to shut him down on a whim. In frustration, in protest, he doused himself with paint thinner and burned himself to death (though it took days for that death to come).
His name was Mohammed Bouazizi; he came from the town of Sidi Bouzid, which you’ve never heard of; and his is a terrible story. Now, he’s known across the Middle East as the man who started the Tunisian revolution and will undoubtedly go down in history — along with Thich Quang Duc, the Buddhist monk who calmly seated himself in a Saigon street in June 1963 and started a political firestorm by immolating himself to protest a repressive American-backed South Vietnamese government; and Jan Palach, the Czech student who did the same in Prague’s Wenceslas Square in January 1969 as a response to the Soviet invasion of his country. In all three cases, others followed their painful example. In all three cases, sooner or later it ended badly for the powers-that-be.