My darling husband felt that the topic of “Revolution” was a natural follow-up to my first post, since Jeremy Paxson was able to prompt Russell Brand to admit that yes, he does indeed wish for a revolution. However, is “Revolution” necessarily a bad thing? My thinks on this will be spelled out, below.
My oh-so-great-and-wonderful guide for word meaning, http://www.merriamwebster.com, has the following to say about Revolution:
- The usually violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one
- A sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc
- The action of moving around something in a path that is similar to a circle
In the context Mr. Paxson seemed to be using, revolution would entail definition number one. However, I believe that the term Russell Brand would apply to it would fall under definition number 2. I’ll study, talk, and think about both of these, for the sake of argument and debate, of course.
First of all – Our country was founded as an entity separate from the English monarchy via a revolution. This is ancient history, right? The American Revolution was, in fact, violent. The attempt was successful; we made victory for the English so very costly that they chose to accede victory to us, rather than continue pouring money into a recalcitrant group of upstarts.
Secondly, current events and recent history show that we’re very much dissatisfied, or at least a large portion of our population is. For instance, politicall pundits believe “Massive riots, huge crime waves expected in many US cities” (http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/10/22/330721/massive-riots-expected-in-many-us-cities/). Riots. Here? In our nation? Actually, for such a young nation, we’ve had a lot. A blog posted by forensiccolleges.net states “…it looks like all you need is the right combination of unhappy people, unfortunate circumstances, and an anger at society or the system at large that has been allowed to simmer to the boiling point.” While many of the riots, especially in the latter half of the 20th century, were race-related, they were often also related to the handling of specific incidents by our public servants, and the governments to which they belong. For instance, the Rodney King riots got out of hand not because a black man was mistreated, but because a black man was recorded being brutally beaten by local police officers. It wasn’t simply a case of race tension, it was members of a local government behaving in an inhuman and inhumane manner. Today, we have financial tension as our major catalyst, but this tension is growing, not shrinking. I believe a large current of anger is currently growing toward “the system.” I fear we are well past the simmering stage and hurriedly working our way toward boiling.
Based partially on current life and standards of living, listed below, I say we’re on the edge of a revolution. The events, specifically, I’m thinking of, are:
- Arizona is but one state where citizens have made noises about seceding from the United States (which in fact the 14th Amendment, ratified after the Civil War, made illegal)
- Between illegal immigrants, and our ever-growing lower class, we have a class disparity that is enough to topple both conventional thinking, and conventional ways of doing business – in short, if you court “popular opinion,” the lower-class, lesser-educated people will have more votes to speak for their opinions than can be generated among the higher-class, higher educated people currently residing in our country, simply by virtue of the numbers each can bring to the board
- Government cuts of benefits as terms for “increased” benefits expire – food stamps, anyone?
- We have all but lost our middle class – to outsourcing, to layoffs, to businesses going out of business because they don’t have people to purchase their products – and this means the core of our economic system is all-but-lost
- As jobs are lost, as people are giving up on retaining or regaining what had been their comfort zone, their way of life, depression and frustration are becoming endemic, which affects how these people manage themselves and the relationships with those around them
- People are seeking to leave our country – not because of a desire to “be” somewhere else, so much as a desire to “be away” from the United States
Now – caveat. These are observations I’m making, based on reading “Trending” reports. None of them are scientific; if you ask me to prove my case, I’m going to have to go back and research and find where I read this, and this can go back a couple of years. Some of it I gained in Soc 101, some of it I gained in news reports, some of it I gained by talking with my neighbors. Some of it I’ve gained from personal experience. So understand and accept that there is no scientific basis, but there damned sure is a real-world basis for each of the assertions I’m making.
The bottom line is that, at least in the United States, we have a very large pool of people who are becoming disenfranchised. We have an even larger pool of people who are poorly-educated, for the most part, and happily take out whatever the government gives to them. Sadly, however, we forget that what the government gives, the government can also take away. So let’s talk about a couple of scenarios, ok?
- Scenario One
Joe Average, who was a mid-level manager for an automobile production plant, was an average and unassuming employee. He went to work every day, punched his card, did his time, and helped keep things running smoothly. One day, due to Union deliberations and the burgeoning export of jobs, he lost his job. His plant shut down. Joe had no college degree – he’d brought himself up from a factory worker, he’d done his time, he’d paid his dues, and had elevated himself to comfortable middle-class status without having to take time off from work to go to school. Yet, when he lost his job, all of a sudden the ability to gain like jobs was largely taken from him. Why? He had no degree, to begin with. The industry he’d been a part of had shrunk, within his region, and trying to move required he have a job to go to, but he had no degree … so over the course of a couple of months to a year, he lost his home, and his ability to support his family. In desperation, during these times, he took multiple lower-paying jobs, he scraped by with little to no sleep, he moved his family into a reduced state of living, he liquidated any savings he might have been able to generate … and he watched his viability as a human being, as a man, a husband, a father, a provider, slowly diminish.
- Scenario Two
Jeffrey R. Youth was born in the ‘hood. He was one of five children birthed to his mother; his mother knew a couple of the childrens’ “baby-daddies” but didn’t know which one was Jeffrey’s. Jeffrey’s mom didn’t push him to succeed, she rather taught him how to hoodwink the government, to get money for free. Her attention for him, among the rest of her five children, was minimal, and she relied instead on handouts brought to the home by successive baby-daddies and by government handou. Babydaddy #1 brings the TV, Babydaddy #3 brings the alcohol for entertainment … and so on. If Jeffrey’s mother gave Jeffrey any indication that he could succeed, it was through physical sports – there was his way to bring himself (and Mom!) out of poverty. Jeffrey’s youth was spent being exposed to gangbangers, drug pushers, and other violent and “unsavory” types. In high school, just before Jeffrey quit, he was injured during Physical Education – blew out his knee. Jeffrey’s dreams of pro sports died, and Jeffrey had no direction in which to go.
Do both these scenarios seem as though I’m making them up? I’m not. Both are based on relationships I had with people. Both are true, both are real, and both don’t even begin to touch the surface of what these people experienced. What options are there, for them? Aside from whatever the government spurs itself to dole out – so each member of said government can keep his or her kushy job – what hope do these two believe exists?
Many people lead parochial lives. Their knowledge base consists solely of what they’re exposed to in their immediate vicinity. For those who were born and raised amidst affluence, they know only affluence. All their friends, their social contacts, their day-to-day interactions revolve around the lifestyle of the affluent. Conversely, for those born and raised amid poverty, all they know is poverty – unless, of course, they’re able to raise themelves out of it. My point is that it is impossible for a person born and raised in affluence to see, experience, and understand the issues facing those born and raised in poverty, and vice verse. However, the people who are supposed to be representing the middle and lower classes are – c’mon, you know where I’m going – affluent. The policies they enact don’t actually speak to the needs of their constituents, they speak to the affluent person’s desire to retain power and position. Therefore they are more often in the nature of “Here, take this and shut up – oh, and vote for me! See? I’m working for you!”
I say, again, revolution is on its way. However, we, each of us, have the ability to determine which path it will take. Will it be the violent, bloody affair that established our nation? Or will it be an intellectual renaissance, sweeping the nation at large and urging the implementation of change that can help us all grow? Folk, I’m here to tell you, we do hold the ability to shape that in our hands.
How, you ask? How can I, how can one person, shape this change? You know, I’ve noticed a very interesting trend. Put bluntly, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” The noisy ones are the ones that everyone rushes to placate. They’re the ones whose votes are bought, in order to keep them quiet, to keep them in their place. They’re the ones who hold out their hands and scream “Gimme! Mine! I deserve it!” Meanwhile, back at the farm, we have the people who look around with their eyes open, who see that this state can not continue. But they’re weighed down with repression, and depression, and a sense of “Well, I’m only one person, what can I do?” So they bury themselves in their daily lives, and hope that things will magically get better, and they become the quiet ones, those whose votes don’t matter, aren’t sought out.
We can change this. We can begin to speak up. We can write letters to our representatives, our congressmen, our president, even. We can say, “I’ve had enough. I’m awake now, and I want change.” We can become the noisy ones, working to implement and institute change that benefits us, and benefits our neighbors, and benefits those around us.
I don’t have all the answers; hell, sometimes I don’t even know the right questions to ask. But there are ideas out there – ideas we should be courting. Oh, like for instance, the idea that all politicians up on Capitol Hill should be held to the same laws, regulations, etc as the rest of us. Ideas such as tax breaks, rather than penalties, for corporations who have all their facilites in the States, to encourage the regrowth of jobs in the middle class. Ideas such as community farming, of all things, to get rid of the logistical power-houses that our current grocery chains have become. Ideas such as clean fuel, which costs less. There are so many ideas out there. I say we have the right, we have the duty, and we have the privilege of seeking to try to bring about the best of these ideas. I say we can go against the financial power-houses that are our current lobbyists. I say that to do otherwise is to accept a bloody revolution, rather than one that can bring about positive change.
And I say that willfully remaining blind to all that’s going on around us is agreeing to a more bloody revolution.