Down With The Status Quo, Up With Change
For the last year I have been watching as political dissent has unfolded in form of the Arab Spring, more recently in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, not to mention the Occupy and 99% Movements, with the greatest of interest. I have written and published two books about this worldwide political and social movement (my newest title, “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”, was just published in March 2012). It is captivating to watch all of the peaceful demonstrators stand up and make their voices heard, and it is inspiring to see thousands of little Davids going to battle with Goliath, especially knowing that “we the people” will win again just like David did. One by one, the big, mean dictators are falling, and it all started with one man committing suicide by setting himself on fire. And now the civil unrest over what amounts to the abuse of authority has spread to the US, as I pointed out above. Today as I write this there are organized demonstrations in all 50 states and in Washington DC. The kickoff of the “99% Spring”, of which I am proud to be a part, is slated to begin next weekend with seminars on peaceful protest and nonviolent resistance. I’ll be going to one in Atlanta next Sunday, and others who wish to participate should check on the Internet for “99% Spring” seminars and assemblies in your area. All these protests highlight the need for more economic opportunity, the right to housing and to a living wage, the right to access to healthcare and higher education, the right for workers to organize, and for the elimination of poverty, hunger, crime, disease, and for an end to all wars. This, my dear readers, is the stuff that really matters to real people, the ones who are caring and compassionate and who show empathy and mercy towards others by putting aside personal differences.
In order for workers throughout the world to make the case for their right to organize without fear of reprisal, it is essential that they be completely unified. To live and work in unity means that relatively large groups can organize and demonstrate for their common good, particularly in matters regarding basic human rights. United we stand and divided we fall, so it is always best to stand united with a common purpose. Unity is what enabled the early 13 colonies to throw Great Britain off the North American continent and back home to England. Unity is what repaired the United States after the American Civil War and paved the way for a United America that formed and colonized the remainder of the 48 contiguous states by the turn of the twentieth century. Unity is what allowed America to win 2 world wars. We have since lost some of that unity, partly due to apathy, ignorance and fear, but largely due to being intimidated by abusive authoritarians of the US military-industrial-incarceration complex. People have become tired of getting pushed around and being told what to do by cold, uncaring political and economic systems whose sole purpose for existence is profit.
However, I have observed that people everywhere are beginning to wake up, and they’re figuring out that we can get our country back from the crooked Wall Street bankers that robbed the US Treasury via the 2008 government bailout, but only after cleaning out the retirement savings of millions of innocent Americans beforehand. God has already given us the power to resist evil, and so has the US Constitution and its predecessor, the Declaration of Independence. If we pray to God for this Holy Spirit power of resistance to evil, and do so believing that we will receive it while maintaining a thankful heart, He will give it to us freely. That means without limits, people. Just as surely as people have united in the Arab world against tyranny, and as Labor Unions and affiliated workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana stood up against the attempted liquidation of their political and economic clout, so will there be unrest right here in the United States because of the tyranny of capitalism of, by and for the very rich, and because of the tyranny of consumerism and materialism that has us all completely surrounded.
I find myself disturbed by the apparent lack of unity that still remains in certain parts of the US, particularly regarding the negative slant that the mainstream media is showing on cable TV. It makes me wonder what is happening to America? Why are we yelling and screaming at each other in town hall meetings? Why have television and radio talk shows degenerated into shouting matches? Why do hate-filled messages permeate the Internet on all sides? What has happened to us? There is a poison flowing through the body politic of America and it will cripple our democracy unless each of us acts as an antidote. Those on the far-left accuse the far-right of being fascist Neanderthals while those on the far-right accuse the far-left of being heathen communists. This kind of infantile stereotyping threatens to tear the fabric of America apart. Actually, the far-left and the far-right have more in common then they would want to admit. Both sides are absolutist in their ideology and uncompromising in their politics. They see no shades of gray, only black and white. Each side believes that they possess absolute truth and each side refuses to compromise on its beliefs. That’s why I identify with neither, and that’s why I’m a political independent. I refuse to identify my Internet church with any denominations for similar reasons.
What particularly troubles me in today’s political environment is the level of anger and even outright hatred that is being displayed. I have been trying to figure out the source of this anger and hatred for some time now. Some of today’s rabid emotionalism can be traced to old-fashioned racism but I think for many people it goes deeper than that. I would suggest that this anger and hatefulness is really a response to the fear of change. Fear is an emotion we don’t like in ourselves and anger is a way of covering up our fears with an emotion that makes us feel more powerful. Anger, then, is like a drug, and like a drug it can be habit-forming.
The antidote, then, is to face our fears and see them for what they are: being afraid of negative outcomes that usually never happen. We live in a world where society, technology, the economy and demographics are rapidly changing and this change is deeply threatening to many people. They are frightened that the world they have known is disappearing. This deep internal fear of change produces an anger response that is directed toward an outward target such as Wall Street bankers or immigrants. We repress our fear by directing our anger toward someone or something outside of ourselves. If we want American democracy to survive, we need to grow up. We need to stop projecting our fears onto other people. We need to stop yelling at each other and learn to start listening to each other. We need to accept the reality of change and begin working together to find productive ways of dealing with a world that is constantly changing, and doing so for the mutual benefit of all. The needs of the many, Mr. Spock said, outweigh the needs of the few. You see, the future in which this idyllic truism exists has already arrived.
The fact is that America has been and is built upon compromise. Our great experiment in democracy is founded upon the belief that each issue has many sides and that the most workable solution comes from a compromise that blends together many disparate views. Compromise is the glue that holds America together. Change is inevitable. It’s the way the universe is constructed. The fact that time exists means that change must occur. Rather than fear change, we need to make it work for our benefit. Rather than trying to go back and fix the past, we need to work together to create a better future, to literally manufacture an entirely new world. If the American experiment is going to grow and mature, we the people have to grow and mature. We have to put our irrational fears behind us and start working together as mature adults in order to deal successfully with the challenges that change presents to us, such as conquering outer space.
It’s time to stop the name-calling and to start having rational discussions about the issues before us. It’s time to turn away from those in the media and on the Internet who feed our fears and fuel our hatred. It’s time to start respecting each other as fellow Americans regardless of our differences. Each of us must stand up for a fundamental American truth – united we stand, divided we fall. As Americans we must stand together. We must reject the anger and hatefulness that is dividing us and start using our common sense to work together for the common good. Living in competition only grinds us down, but achieving through mutual cooperation lifts everyone up. Competition may be a good thing in the business world, but it is counterproductive for human relationships. We must either learn to live in harmony or perish. The choice is ours.