There is a lighter, higher step as my Muslim companion enters the mosque. He used to look over his should as he walked in, concerned that he was being watched..unfairly. There is a greater confidence in the way the sisters walk in the streets - their heads are held higher, multicoloured hijabs twisting in creative displays on their heads. They smile more. The Arab Spring is like disinfectant to a persistent sore.
For more years than I can count, every major event in the world was triggered with murmurs of a conspiracy. Nothing was as it seemed. Pessimism always greeted my attempts to begin something, change something, stand up for something. A profound lack of faith stuck at the foundation of any great effort for community change. 'The authorities' would not allow it, or 'they' would undermine it. I was always faced with great scepticism that any project or cause that I espoused would be permitted or capable of success.
Dumbfounded I wondered how such people who believed in an Almighty God, and an immutable Book of Revelation that they could read and understand far better than myself, could have such a defeatist point of view. I would pursue them with questions - 'Who exactly was against this? and why?' There were never any specifics, only a knowing look at my naivety. It was the Jews, the Mormans, or the Christians, ASIO, MOSSAD... there was always one bogey that could not be pinned down, that instilled a deep and often unreasonable fear into my companions minds.
This is the fear that I now see lifting. I hear far less of hopeless scenarios, where the only alternative is the mindless violence of the suicide bomber - a complete act of hopeless social destruction. I have not heard of a conspiracy theory or a defeatist response to a cause for weeks now. We have the flotilla to Gaza, the Freedom bus ride, the thousands of brave souls bracing for a new onslaught of oppressor violence - and each of these show courage and faith.
The Arab spring is infectious, like a new dawn stealing rays of light and hope into every community - we do not need to be afraid. We can stand strong, control our mindless anger, have courage and walk strong with dreams in our minds again - has faith at long last begun to return?