Gene Sharp and Jamila Raqib

From his home in Boston, the 84 year old professor takes care of rare orchids and at the same time functions as an inspiration for the starters of revolutions. The books of political scientist Dr. Gene Sharp are used by revolutionaries all over the world to break down dictators and their tyrannical systems. From Burma to Serbia, from Guatemala to Egypt. “I dream about the day that all repressive regimes will be thrown over by peaceful up rise.”

The modest Dr. Sharp grew up in Ohio, where he also attended college. His own up ride against violence takes place in the fifties, when he refuses to fight in the war in Korea. As a result he spends nine moths in prison. Sharp gets his doctoral degree in Oxford and becomes a professor in politics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Sharp has been writing books for revolutionaries for the past fifty years. The most famous one being From Dictatorship to Democracy, in which there are 198 tips and tricks for peaceful resistance. One of the tips is picking a colour and showing unity. In the Ukraine, the demonstrators chose orange, in Iran green was the colour of the resistance. It is also useful to put women and the elderly at the front at demonstrations, preferably holding a kind and peaceful symbol, like a flower.

According to Dr. Sharp the power of dictators depends on the will of the people to obey. When the people decide to obey no longer, the regime may tumble down. There are always weaknesses in any authoritarian system. Sharp says: “Dictators are never as strong as they claim to be. And people are never as weak as they think they are.”