I have been wondering how changes are really playing out in the “Arab Spring” countries. How has the leadership transition actually effected people as they go about their daily lives? Change often has unexpected ramifications.

For example, when I was teaching English in a technical college in Libya I observed a somewhat humorous application of one of Qaddafi’s dictates. At that time Qaddafi was heavily promoting his form of socialism in Libya and beyond. His “Green Book” was available everywhere. I believe it was required reading for every Libyan student, maybe every Libyan citizen.

One of Qaddafi’s assertions in the Green Book was that people should function as a democracy. That is, every group should vote on everything. I think he had in mind situations like neighborhoods deciding to invest in infrastructure upgrades such as paving the streets or installing street lights. (Clearly he did not mean that people should democratically select the national leader.)

It is not clear if he meant that students should vote among themselves whether or not to attend English class. My students were sure that is what he meant. I was not convinced. The students won. They gathered outside the classroom and voted. Sometimes English class won, sometimes it didn’t.

When English class lost, I got the day off!