The parallels between the years 1989 and 2011 are striking.
2011 is looking to becoming an annus mirabilis (miracle year). Before 2011, though, there was 1989. Columnist George F. Will, who surveyed the events of that period of time, termed that tumultuous year an annus mirabilis for good reason.
June 1989 witnessed the populist uprising in Tianamen Square, Beijing. Many people still recall the brave stance of one lone individual (a business executive, perhaps), briefcase in hand, who prevented a column of tanks from crushing protesters. Even though "Briefcase Man" disappeared under armed capture with the Chinese government's final crack down on the protesters, the world realized evidently that the Chinese Communist regime was not as strong as it appeared. Autocratic regimes could be stopped, or at least threatened.
Another victory half-way around the world would shadow this temporary setback: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of Communist hegemony in Russia and Eastern Europe. I was only nine years old at the time, but when I saw East and West Germans climbing on the Berlin Wall, dancing, breaking away at that formidable divide with hammers and chisels, a strong sense of solidarity welled up within me. I knew what they were rejoicing about, I understood what the celebration and the destruction of the wall meant for them, for me, and for the whole world. It was a wonderful scene that moved me then, and still makes me tear up now when I think of it now.
To see freedom win out over long-standing oppression; to see people-power triumph over tyranny; to witness a new hope envelop a land whose people had been resigned to despotic despair: that same joy overtakes me when I read about the downfall of Arab dictators and the solidarity of Middle Eastern nations to overthrow their abusive rulers and strike out boldly for their freedom. As this year advances, may this annus mirabilis reveal greater joy and wonder for the world.