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Thirty years later my parents gave refuge once more, this time to a Zimbabwean escaping the repressive rule of Robert Mugabe.Now they were living in a smaller flat, their children long having flown the nest.(Universities and other such educational institutions are today themselves required to check the legal status of their foreign students, and report any non-compliance thus, in effect, making them arms of the state.) I asked my parents why they had taken P. Neither could really remember, answering my question with vague responses like “We could” or “It felt like a good thing to do”.Now with my own small children, and exhausted by the tasks of their care, I marvel at my parents’ hospitality.Here is a short list of principles that may guide action, along with a few practical examples.The principles are by no means exclusive, nor comprehensive: mere pointers, not instructions.

Demonstrators attacked the tanks in city squares with stones and petrol bombs. One protesting student set himself on fire in Prague’s Wenceslas Square.

During the Arab revolutions of early 2011, pro-democracy protestors broadcast their tweets direct from Cairo’s Tahrir Square, their compelling 140-character messages shattering generations-old Western stereotypes of the Middle East and the “Arab street”.

Websites like Global Voices now aggregate citizen reports from all over the world, but from close to the ground. A few years ago, my wife and I travelled to northern Mali, to the southern reaches of the Sahara desert north of Timbuktu. We decided to take a camel tour with some Tuareg tribesmen; the trip appealed to our sense of adventure.

This is perhaps the hardest step, and I have the least useful to say about it (apart from Gandhi’s and Claudette Colvin’s examples, cited earlier). This is difficult in the banality yet ubiquity of contemporary culture, with its cacophony of voices and opinion. But here’s one suggestion which is doubtless revealing of my own dyspeptic disposition: what makes you angry?

This must be an individual discovery of what you care most about. What never fails to irritate you for its stupidity and injustice? This simple axiom will point to the main sources of influence, and obstacles.

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