Why Have I Not Taken To The Streets?

August 17, 2011  |  Uncategorized

This one is about legacy, the one we all create by the actions of our lives and also about our sense of purpose which according to research on longevity has a direct affect on our life span….

I had dinner the other night with a group of friends, all educated professional women who have worked long and hard to do as we do, raise families, contribute to society, make a difference at home and out in the world.
• Two have recently downgraded to HMO health insurance because they could no longer afford the more expensive PPO option
• One is still unemployed after a 12 month job search
• One is in her 40’s and still working on contract with no benefits and no security

In the same week I also spoke to three other friends
• One will soon lose her house after an 18 month battle with the banks to keep her home for herself and her children
• One worries about her mother confined to a substandard nursing home
• One worries about her child in an overcrowded classroom, missing the great teacher she had last year who got laid off
I can’t imagine that my conversations are so unique. It is my belief that today such conversations are happening all over the US.
In each of these exchanges we ended the conversation with “ something has to change.” My friends and I are not unwilling to do the work of change, to suffer the transition to even accept that we are in a new order. We are not even demanding the return of the old days but how do we affect this change and what will happen if we don’t?

In a recent paper titled, “The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East, published on arXiv.com Marco Lagi, Karla Z. Bertrand and Yaneer Bar-Yam state that ”When the ability of the political system to provide security for the population breaks down, popular support disappears. Conditions of widespread threat to security are particularly present when food is inaccessible to the population at large, All support for the system and allowance for its failings are lost. The loss of support occurs even if the political system is not directly responsible for the food security failure, as is the case if the primary responsibility lies in the global food supply system.”

I realize that the subject of this paper concerns an area of the world where the issues are more at the edge of the tipping point. And while there is hunger in the US, the new unrest is generated from the loss of something higher up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. However I believe now is a good time to ask…

Why have we not taken to the streets?

Do we need to get to the point of a food crisis before we withdraw our support for the system and make it clear that we will no longer tolerate its failings? What will happen when we do give up on the systems we rely on to “fix it”?

This past May, what was coined “The Spanish Revolution”, shocked the Spanish government on the eve of their elections “Without a hint of violence the Spanish people are saying, Enough is Enough!!”Houston Chronicle
Demonstrators, most of who were young, took to the streets for six day sit ins in a dozen Spanish cities demanding an overhaul of the political system in order to improve living conditions.
One 32 year old revolutionary, Javier de Coca, when asked, why, had this to say, “Some people are trying to turn this into a leftwing or Marxist thing, but that is not what it is about. The really important thing for the moment is that we are raising our voices. No one should think we are just sitting around and taking this.”
Food for thought…

The form of revolution is as varied as the conditions bringing it about and the courage and nature of the revolutionaries leading it.
In Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Libya thousands have taken to the streets to demand change and many have lost their lives to make their point.
In Iceland the revolution was sounded from the polls where citizens voted strongly against bailing out the banks they believed had caused the crisis in the first place.
Yet little pavement has been trod here at home. This week in San Francisco the BART was protested to a halt as citizens peacefully and lawfully protested what they believed was police brutality and the loss of freedom of speech. Is this a sign of things to come?

What will it take for the average citizen of the USA to step up and out their front doors, to put goggle and twitter and other social networking technologies to work in the country where they were born, for the good of that country and its people, to march as one voice demanding simply…Something Has To Change?

A recent article in guardian.co.uk states that “In the 21st century, given the broadening of available communication-technology, it is not power elite “leaders” who may decide the future but the broader populace who are moving the Internet Reformation forward. Those at the top of the EU may come up with solutions that they consider adequate one way or another only to find that voters are dismissive of them.”
Politicians around this country are about to begin that big spending spree better known as campaigning and I for one resent every cent they will spend trying to convince me that they will do it differently, make it better, or that they have the right answer.
I have to admit that my resentment is a symptom that I am losing faith in the talk. I am withdrawing my popular support for the system and seeking a new way. This is a country build on entrepreneurship, where are the new ideas now when we need them? It seems to me that no one party, never mind one person, has the right answer for the crisis this nation faces. The answers will only germinate in the place where each person with power, personal or elected lays down his or her arms against their peers/adversaries and unites to seek pioneering solutions for a new life in these times and in the times of struggle yet to come.
Maybe, today,the solutions cannot be found inside the political and geographical boundaries of one nation. We seek to “win” in a world which is closely linked by technology, trade patterns, resource needs and population movement so why are we seeking solutions alone in our own back yard?

Why have we not taken to the streets?
Why have I not taken to the streets?

But here I sit at my keyboard in some sort of semi intellectual paralysis, writing about “it”, which quite frankly may be one step worse than talking about “it”.

Here is my list of excuses for inaction:
• I have not found the precise articulated issue for which I would break out my sign paints and staple my cardboard box flap onto my broom handle
• I have not impassioned my friends sufficiently to join me on a quiet, well peaceful but not necessarily quiet, walk to …?
• That is another problem, I don’t know where to protest, City Hall, Governor’s residence? Washington?
• In my safe California nest I tell myself that things are not that bad here so protest is simply an over reaction

Am I missing something here? Is there some other way to make our point, to be heard, something we have not tried or have not tried hard enough to demand that the greatest minds of this nation join to start the courageous acts of building and enacting a strategy for national renewal and for regaining international respect?
A nation is a collection of peoples and people have experience with crisis and hardship in life. They reshape their lives to keep going and they find the better things that they value most are still alive within them. This process is not easy, is not what we prefer but I think there is a growing appetite to get on with it, to act upon this recovery to find our dignity again in being part of the solution so …
Why are we not in the streets?

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