Protests against incumbent regimes are spreading across North Africa and spilling into East Asia, even as I write this. I don't believe any longer that "If it's an uprising, then it must be for good". I am long past that age of innocence. Mao's "Cultural Revolution" and the 1979 Revolution in Iran were in another century, when I was as young and misty-eyed as those who look upon Egyptian streets and virtual highways with admiration today. What a disappointment those distant revolutions have been in their aftermath!
Regimes come and go. So do gods, messiahs, and religions. What endure are ideas, ideas tested by reason and evidence. The ideas of liberty and equality - that all people are free and equal, and no individual or collective may be granted exclusive privileges and immunities in law - these are enduring ideals that have guided humanity along the path of civilization. The rest, however passionately embraced by the populace at a moment in history, are destined to perish in the Darwinian struggle for survival.
I never tire of quoting Queen Sheelavati from the film, Anaahat, directed by Amol Palekhar:
"Wisdom," she said to her troubled husband and the King of Shravasti, "is knowing the difference between the transient and the eternity".