Something—someone—keeps knocking at the door. It’s cold out there and getting colder, but the people inside are cozy on the sofa with the TV on and a blanket on their laps. But there’s that knock again: at the front door now, then the side door, then the back. Maybe it’s the wind. Now there’s knocking at the windows and the roof and the walls of the house—who knew they were so thin? It’s hard to understand: How could so many people be knocking all at once?
But they are, and it’s getting louder. Last week you could hear the banging in Colombia—in Bogotá, Cali, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellín, a curfew declared, the army in the streets—and the week before that in Iran, a steady beat that quickly spread to more than 100 cities. At least 100 protesters have been killed so far. It’s hard to know if there were more, or exactly what is going on: The government shut off the Internet on the protests’ second day. But even when there’s a steady connection, it’s hard to put it all together: Protests have been roiling through Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Spain, Sudan, the UK, and Zimbabwe—I’m sure I’m leaving someplace out—and that’s only since September. Some have been the fleeting, routine sort that snarls up traffic for a day. Others look more like revolutions, big enough to topple governments, shut down entire nations.