Rebels, revolutionaries, ideologies, civil wars, and America

2 Mar

For some reason, I started reading about revolutionaries and activists recently.  You know the sort, the famous guys who either succeeded or failed in causing political changes in their respective countries.  Not that I consider that any of them had any real success…history has shown that humans repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Face it, we’re basically a greedy, selfish lot.  We are also highly idealistic, which makes for some creative peculiarities among our revolutionaries and rebels.

Most of the ones that I read about advocated the use of violence to act as a catalyst for change, despite the fact that they were usually protesting violence and oppression to begin with.  My perception has been that the violence they were exposed to just numbed them to the entire issue about the value of a human life, and other people merely became objects that impeded their progress towards their goal.

Even though the portrait of these characters that I was given via textbooks was that of a monster, I was in search of their humanity.  It had to be there, somewhere, that man who had been a boy who’d once had his mother’s arms around him in a hug.  That man, who at some point in his life, had held his own child in his arms and looked down on him as it felt as though his heart had swelled ten fold.  None of them could be immune to the things that do make us human, could they?  It was there, somewhere, hidden in the histories of their lives and careers as a revolutionary.

I’m probably asking the same questions that have been asked for a millenia.  What makes some men heroes and others monsters?  What is a truly just society like?  How can we have peace, prosperity and justice for all, and I mean truly have it for all, without prejudice?  If we could rewrite our society into one of perfection, what would we write?  What kind of government would it have?

We see disaster all around us.  Economic, ecological, environmental, political…you name it, it’s in a disastrous state right now.  It’s obvious we need to rewrite SOMETHING, but what?  What did we do wrong?  How can we fix it?  How can we work with human’s own nature to create something much better than any one of us really are?  How can we create our own Eden right here right now?

I’ve looked at ideology, I’ve looked at theology, I’ve looked at some ologies that don’t even have a name yet.  I don’t see any answers that have been written yet.  Granted, I’ve not read everything that has been written by a long shot.  There’s a lot out there that I don’t know, far more than I know, actually.  Everybody wants to feed me their answers, and yet, my heart knows that they really have their eye on my wallet when it comes right down to it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we’ve got a lot right with the good old USA’s constitution.  I don’t know how, but those guys who got together to write it had a lot going for them, and they thought out what they were writing very deeply.  Still, they left enough loopholes that the foolish, the greedy, the silly, the pompous, and the narrow minded have all found them and used them to their own ends.

The USA may have mandatory schooling, but that doesn’t mean we’re turning out people with any semblance of a real education.  Most people don’t even realize that the president is not elected by popular vote, but is instead elected by the electoral college.  They don’t realize that the president cannot introduce a bill but he can veto one.  The president, however, has developed this inexplicable ability to write “executive orders”, which are acted on as though they are law…but they are not a law.  Most of these executive orders are related to the executive branch’s performance of duties as prescribed by law…while others, are of a more dubious nature.

Our senators and representatives are elected by popular vote, and as we watch elections take place in which someone currently under indictment for some nefarious deed committed while in office already…is re-elected.  In one such case, video footage showing the criminal act was frequently aired on the television in the area in which his constituents lived…and still, he was re-elected (until his conviction and sentencing put an end to it.)  Why on earth did they vote for this guy?  I couldn’t understand it, at all!

Racism is another issue that plagues us.  It mystifies me entirely, as I absolutely do not understand it.  If a white uses a derogatory word for someone of another race, it’s racism.  That I comprehend.  If a white creates a social or some other organization of some kind exclusively to benefit whites, that is racist.  I can understand that too.  BUT…when you flip it around, if a non-white uses a derogatory term about whites, that’s NOT racist.  An organization created to benefit exclusively any race besides whites is not racist either.  So, I’m very confused.  My conclusion is that it must be a bad thing to be white.

That confusion struck when the Obama/McCain race was on too.  If I said anything negative about Obama, I was a racist.  If I didn’t intend to vote for him, I was a racist.  However, voting for him simply because his father was black was not racist.  I guess if I had wanted to vote for him because his mother was white, that would have been racist too?  Then, not too long ago, I heard someone say that Obama could not claim to be a real “African-American” because he really wasn’t.  When it was pointed out that Obama’s father was from Africa, making him definitely “African-American”, the distinction was that his ancestors weren’t slaves.  Here’s a news flash for you…not all slaves were black or of African descent.  Nobody taught me that at school, and when I saw this mysterious entry describing some slaves on a list, I had to ask what it meant.  It turns out that some slaves were Native American, not black at all, and that was in the antebellum South, not in the Southwest where early Spanish exploration enslaved many Native Americans.  It also turns out that a black slave had more value and more legal rights than a Native American, who was subject to the whims of the US military and could be hung, shot, or otherwise killed for no reason other than “nits grow into lice.”  Yeah, that’s a real quote from a real American colonel by the name of Col. John Chivington, the officer in charge of the Sand Creek Massacre.

All this racism stuff makes my head hurt, and makes no more sense to me than Hitler’s dislike of the Jews does.  What difference does it make, really?  Unless you are a manufacturer of makeup designed to match skin tones, I don’t see where it should make a lick of difference.

I read about Che Guevara.  He started off pretty idealistic, although with a tendency towards violence.  In the end, his legacy is probably as violent and as oppressive as that which he sought to abolish.  Fidel Castro too started off as a much more moderate person than he was during the 60s and 70s, with far more idealistic goals than what he is leaving behind as his legacy.  What happened to their dreams?

Does power corrupt everyone it touches?  It almost seems as though it does.  The powerful become consistently more vicious towards any who dare oppose them, in words or deed, to preserve that power.  I’ve seen it on a small scale within inconsequential organizations, and it is obvious that it has occurred time and time again in history.    Yet at the same time, electing rulers for short terms of time seems to create another atmosphere of indecisiveness and corruption.

We have too many people on this planet now to deal with corruption, violence, greed, and the other sins that have come along the way with power and governments.  We need to develop new  ways of distributing goods, services, and governmental services.  We definitely need less war and more gardening going on, as we have more and more mouths to feed each and every year.  We need more teachers and doctors, and fewer soldiers and politicians.  We need fewer elite and more in the middle, we need…so very much.  But how do we get it?

Violence, chaos, and war are obviously not solutions.  They are some of the symptoms of our problems.  We’ve tried communism, socialism, and capitalism, and none of these have the answer either, although my opinion is that overall, capitalism seems to have a slight margin in its favor.  We have too many unemployed, either by choice or by fate, ensuring a perpetual state of poverty for their families.  Too many people languish in refugee camps around the world, unable to get on with being productive citizens as their lives are in ruins and their fates are in someone else’s hands.  Too many children are unwanted, while in other places, arms wait empty for a child that will never come.  Some children will never have a chance at an education or an opportunity to become a doctor, teacher, or a scientist.

Others dream of having a home to call their own with space for a garden, while others build their McMansions in town, a vast country home in another location, and still have a third or fourth home that they rarely visit.  Some struggle and work hard, and still never seem to get ahead, while others seem to have all of the luck in the world, and everything comes to them easily.  Some are born rich and die rich, while others are born poor and are doomed to poverty no matter how hard they work to improve themselves.  Others manage to improve their lot in life, and turn their back on the poverty stricken friends and relatives that helped them in their younger years.  Life isn’t always fair.

So how can we make it more fair?  How can we give everyone an equal chance of having a piece of that shrinking pie?  It isn’t by “redistributing” the wealth as has been done in many socialist or communist countries.  That didn’t work, it just changed who the haves were while the have nots remained without.   Pure capitalism doesn’t work to achieve that either, as then it seems that some soulless corporation ends up with all of the Monopoly pieces and the have-nots remain once again.

I’m no great thinker, but we have created a society that needs some re-vamping, and I can’t understand why there is so little effort towards doing so.  Hard work should have a potential for reward other than being tired at the end of the day.  Honesty should pay off.  Intelligence should have a benefit.  But, they don’t benefit anyone except a corporation all too often.  We have created a society in which the ultimate power is held by corporations, actually.

Granted, there is “free will” and we can choose which corporation we want to do business with…sometimes.  For many, the only option to change companies that rule requires moving, like they are some kind of Lord of the Land controlling vast tracts of the country.  (Look at the utility companies for this.)  These “Lords of the Land” are our natural gas, electric, and telephone companies.  We have little to no choice about who we purchase utilities from, and avoiding their tyranny requires removing yourself from their grid, which can cost about the same as mounting an army of some kind!  Even cell phone companies with their contracts that indenture us to their servitude for two years at a time are grabbing at our lives, forcing us to pay for freedom of choice.

It’s our own fault, you know.  We, as a collective whole, have allowed these companies to take over our lives.  We like our comforts and conveniences so much that it was a happy servitude for years, and only now, when the economy is so unstable and our livelihoods are frequently threatened that we have realized…we have all given our freedom to these companies.  Now we regret it, but did we regret it when we started off on this journey?

Nope, that’s why we’re in this boat.  Now we’re realizing that it was a mistake, but its only because the boat has a leak in it!  These contracts for convenience are becoming our downfall, and now its time to re-create a world where everyone has an opportunity to improve their lot in life, where we can choose what path we will take.  Hopefully, we’ll find a way to do that without destroying society, instead finding a smooth transition into a more equal society, one without the need for refugees and homelessness, without the need for revolutions and wars.

I’ve seen a lot of charts lately illustrating the fact that about 33% of the wealth of the entire United States is held by a select slice of our population, less than 1%, while 90% of the population shares a mere 20% of the wealth of the country.  I also know that statistics don’t always illustrate the real truth, but there is some truth in those figures.  Most people these days don’t have much and won’t have much in their lifetimes.  Is this fair?  Well, I can remember my own mother telling me as a kid that life was not fair, but there is too big of a gap for society’s own good.  Statistics like that make me shiver, as I realize that also for the first time in my lifetime, I’ve heard people talk about the possibility of a civil war.  That’s terrifying because I also know other kinds of statistics.

I’m an older female with few financial resources.  I’m not likely to fair particularly well in a country plagued by civil war.  I have an infant granddaughter, and she too is not likely to fair well during a civil war, and it could expose her to untold horrors in her formative years.  I have an adult daughter with diabetes, and without her medication, she would die within days.  During a civil war, she would be at untold risk as medical supplies failed to arrive as blockades stopped trade goods and medications from moving across the country.  I am highly motivated to do my part to prevent such a thing from happening.  I like the security of living within the United States, even if it isn’t perfect–it’s a lot better than most!

It’s in all of our best interest to use our own system to cause change.  We don’t have to look to revolutions and civil wars to change the way our country operates, it can happen within the system that our forefathers set into place.  We don’t have to accept corruption and greed as the operating method of our government, and continuing to do so is surely the quickest road to disaster.

Do your part.  Demand more from the officials that you elected to represent you, even if they aren’t the candidate that you voted for.  Vote for candidates that do represent the people as they really are, rather than those who represent their own wallets and ideology.  Write them, call them, go to town hall meetings.  Speak up, and be heard.

Don’t let the United States become the New Rome and then falls to pieces.  It isn’t impossible–change will happen, and whether its change for the better or change into chaos and anarchy is really up to us.

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