For the past three weeks, the world has sat and watched a true, modern-day peaceful revolution begin, expand and, in the end, force a change in Egypt’s long-standing and oppressive government. There were skirmishes throughout, but they were brought on by hired thugs paid by the establishment to break the protesters’ will.

But their will was not broken.

They stayed until the end and learned the one golden rule of citizenship:  The government, regardless of how it was created, is ultimately subject to the rule of the people. Millions of Egyptian citizens, having suffered under decades of oppressive rule by Hosni Mubarak, realized that they outnumbered the bureaucrats, the police and even the military. Also, they didn’t sink into mindless violence, destroying their own neighborhoods and business. They simply took to the streets and made their voices heard and, in doing so, changed much more than the leadership of their country.

This morning, I saw in the news that protesters in Iran are clashing with police in the streets of Tehran. The leaders of the so-called “Green Movement,” Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, have been under house arrest since last week. They are positioning these marches as being supportive of the Egyptian people, a stance the Iranian government took as the crisis in Cairo was reaching its climax. Now the government is trying to crack down, going so far as to surround their homes and keeping them from joining the marches.

Of course, all despots in the Middle East should have been thinking about this as events were unfolding in Egypt, especially Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmandinejad. After the world-wide condemnation of his stealing the 2009 election and then the brutal methods used to crush the opposition and their calls for justice in the aftermath, I should think he would have already had a plan. Perhaps he did, but the hypocrisy of supporting the people of Egypt and Tunisia in their revolution and then restricting his own people from gathering in public to do the same can’t be missed and should certainly not be a surprise to anyone in the world now.

The point is this:  We citizens far outnumber the members of out government. We think of ourselves primarily as being dependent on them, but actually, they are equally dependent on us. This symbiosis is what gives us our strength. If we don’t work, our government doesn’t work. Iranian security forces can fire rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds, and they will stop some of the protests, but what the events of the past few weeks have proven is that, eventually, they will run out of tear gas and bullets and be overwhelmed, or perhaps they will do what the Egyptian military did and refuse to fire on peaceful, unarmed people.

What the Egyptian people did transcends their immediate goal of ousting Mubarak from office. They set an example for all the people of the Middle East, of the world for that matter. They showed that ordinary men and women can force the change. It requires sacrifice, it requires courage, but it can be done. And you don’t need another country to do it for you.