God, Ferguson, Mo., ‘Occupy’, ‘the 99%’, and the Arab Spring
I have been watching the evening news on wireless TV and on the Internet from the alternative media (with just a measured amount of CNN Internet; I don’t waste my time or money with cable TV) with much admiration lately as the political turmoil unfolds in Ferguson, Missouri over the death of local teenager Michael Brown. Just like the Arab Spring in 2011 in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, with a civil war raging in Syria and with two more threatening to break out in Iraq and Ukraine, all the people are taking to the streets for justice, and for their inalienable human rights and freedoms. It stirs my heart to see all those throngs of people united in one purpose, coming up against an overwhelming established authority, and all without any weapons, excluding Syria. It also bears a strong resemblance to the Occupy and “the 99%” Movements here in America and abroad, of which I have been a part and have self-published two books about these movements. All of these ongoing revolutions were accomplished without any more than minimal bloodshed (again excluding Syria and Gaza), and were at least partly peaceful. Of course, this is excluding all the looters and vandals in Ferguson, Mo. and elsewhere, whose activities I will never endorse. It is nonetheless very good that so many people were set free by rising up against established abusive authorities and taking charge of one’s own destiny. This is how real change is brought about and this is how (mostly) peaceful revolution is brought forth by those persons bold enough to step up and take the freedom that is rightfully theirs.
Watching those events unfolding on live TV caused me to compare what was happening in Ferguson and all those other places in North Africa and the Middle East beginning several years ago to what had happened during the American Revolution during the formation of the original colonies. The main difference between then and now is that modern-day Arab and American protesters didn’t have guns – and didn’t need them, as it turned out. This evokes the memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the ultimate peaceful campaigner for civil rights. His advocacy of non-violent social change and the civil rights legacy that he left behind are irreplaceable. And I also believe that same legacy is based on that of Moses, who so famously told the Pharaoh to “let my people go”. Soon a time will be coming for the entire world, from the most developed countries on down to the poorest, when the shackles of debt will be forever broken, and when all the people of the world will be freed from the scourge of usurious interest that is charged on loans. Soon all of us will be free from a debt-based economy as capitalism dies of old age, as we begin to move toward a resource-based economy. But that is a separate topic for another time.
The same thing has since happened in America, as you all know, with the blossoming of the Occupy and 99% Movements. This loosely organized political federation is gradually congealing into something more, growing into something far more substantial. The economic state of the populations of Egypt and America are similar, with high unemployment, rampant homelessness and crime. The inordinate concentration of wealth, combined with its use as a weapon to pollute and corrupt government and politics, runs rampant in both countries. America is most certainly ripe for revolution, given the state of the middle and working classes in this country, the lack of decent jobs, the lack of affordable housing, and the rising cost of food and fuel. The Occupy and 99% Movements may well be the vehicle for this 2nd American Revolution. I also think this vehicle will be accelerated by the fact that America is rapidly headed for third world status as a country when it comes to the standard of living of the blue and white collar classes, otherwise known as “we the people” in the Preamble to the Constitution. When this is combined with the unfair, unethical concentration of wealth throughout the world then it becomes tantamount to an undeclared economic civil war. There can be no doubt that we are going to have to unite together as a people to stop this great robbery that is happening right up in our faces each and every day so we can take back our country. The longer we wait to do so, the more difficult it will become.
Actually, the far-left and the far-right have more in common then they would want to admit. Both sides are absolute in their ideology and uncompromising in their politics. This is like a poison flowing through the body politic of America and it will cripple our democracy unless each of us acts as an antidote. Otherwise this kind of childish selfishness and narrow-minded stereotyping threatens to tear the fabric of America apart.
What is particularly troubling in today’s political environment – with Ferguson, Missouri being just the tip of the iceberg – is the level of anger and even outright hatred that is being displayed by all sides. 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 much deeper than that. It would appear that this anger and hatefulness is really a response to fear. 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. We live in a world where society, technology, the economy and demographics are rapidly changing and this change is deeply threatening to many people. Such people have not yet discovered the simple key to letting go of their fear, which is to believe and have faith that God is in charge of everything, combined with understanding that if we will just let go and let God, He will cause all things to work out well, as it is written, “All things work to the glory of God for those who love Him”. God is always there for you, as it is written and was uttered by Jesus himself, “Never will I leave you, and never will I forsake you.” So He isn’t going to let anything happen to you, and it would be to the benefit of anyone reading these words to rest assured about this and stop worrying. (For additional perspective on what Jesus said about worrying, read Matthew chapter six.)
If we want American democracy to survive, we need to grow up and wise up. We need to stop projecting our fears onto our fellow citizens, and we need to let go of our own childhood fears and insecurities (Ferguson, Mo., are you listening?). We need to stop yelling at each other and learn to start listening to each other. We need to replace competition with cooperation, and we need to first learn self-respect as an important step toward acquiring mutual respect. Only when these things have been done can a new economic system truly be born, one based on resourcefulness and cooperation instead of outmoded concepts like competition and profit for the sake of financial gain. 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. Besides, the fact is that America 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 to the past, we need to work together to create a better future. In so doing we emulate God, because He too only cares about our future, not our past. If the American experiment that has been ongoing since the 18th century is going to grow and mature, we the people will also 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. Besides, change is what keeps is on our toes. God allows change to happen to us to help grow us into something more than we were before. It’s time to stop the name-calling and to start having rational discussions about the issues before us. Most important of all, it’s time for the police to put all their military hardware in storage and go back to being officers of the peace and detectives of various kinds. It’s time to turn away from those in the media on cable TV, and on talk radio, and on the Internet who feed our fears and fuel our hatreds like pouring gasoline on a lighted backyard grill. It’s time to start respecting each other as fellow Americans. Each of us must stand up for a fundamental American truth – united we stand, divided we fall.