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Our Fight: Voting is not enough to regain our freedom

14 Oct. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich in protests, protesters, occupy wall street, occupy chicago, freedom, citizens
protests, unity, citizens, freedom, rights, community, liberty

These recent protests are not just about money and corruption. We, the citizens of this country, have been used as a means to an end. Our rights as human beings and as citizens of this country have been over-shadowed by our role as consumers. We are protesting as citizens of this country because we recognize our power and our role in stopping such injustices from continuing to occur.

These protests prove that we are beginning to realize that we need to change to bring about change. We have rediscovered that our strength and power is in unity. The Constitution of the United States of America means little without actively participating citizens.

For many people, however, it is still easier to see these protesters as a minority group. It is easy to label them as lazy kids or hippies. Additionally, with the lack of serious mainstream media coverage and the less than favorable comments from political leaders, it is hard, as a spectator, to see these protesters as anything but irrational people who want something for nothing.

So who are these protesters? They are citizens who have been struggling sense the recession. Many have been out of work for months, many are working part-time jobs to barely make ends meet, and many are college students with little prospect for a job. Some protesters are simply tired of working at dead end jobs with sinking wages and a lack of respect from those running the major corporations. Protesters are also retirees who lost their retirement funds and parents concerned about the future of this nation and the future of their children.

So why do these protesters and citizens make so many feel uncomfortable? It is because they threaten to disrupt our false sense of stability and security in this country. We want to feel warm and fuzzy inside and these protesters simply do not provide that feeling. We have been taught to live passively in a country where important decisions are made by those in Washington D.C. This, of course, is meant to make us feel happy and safe, but it merely provides an illusion. We have become so comfortable in this “matrix”; we actually fear empowerment, which comes with such actions as protests.

The truth is we feel free and safe when we are ignorant of the ugly truths around us. We feel free and safe when we cannot see starving people, and the devastation we cause to our natural landscape and wildlife. We feel free and safe when our politicians give grand speeches about what they will do for this country when they become president. We feel free and safe when traditions are followed and not questioned. We feel free and safe when the media spends more time on pop-culture and fashion rather than on war and civil rights. It is an illusion – a matrix!

Our political leaders have successfully groomed generations to not think, but blindly follow. And of course, passive, uneducated and hopeless citizens are much easier to govern than knowledgeable citizens who are empowered. This mentality of “I don’t need to get involved” is the opposite of freedom. Paying someone else to think for us, the citizens, does not provide security, and it is not what is best for the people of this country. This way of governing and being governed serves only one purpose and that is to make things easier for our political leaders and corporations. Our mistakes have been buying into it and spending years of just complaining about it.

Ask yourself why the mainstream media has kept these nation-wide protests out of the spotlight. Ask yourself why it is taking so long to get support from organizations and public figures. Ask yourself why for every one word said good about this movement there are 10 discrediting it. And it is not because protesters lack unclear demands, and it is not because they lack validity. It is because it threatens the very system and life our political leaders and corporations want to keep intact. It is because it threatens their power and authority. It is because it raises important questions and issues, they have so successfully kept at bay.

They are, therefore, going to want to view and portray these protesters as irrational hippies. Because if political and corporate leaders openly admit that these protesters are intelligent young adults, it would make this movement real and valid. More importantly, it is much easier for political leaders to address the simplistic problems of unhappy hippies than address the complex problems of intelligent adults.

Dumbing down this movement is not only a ploy to remove any validity of these protests, but it is also to remove any real responsibility from our political leaders to address very real systemic problems. This movement brings real problems into the forefront; a place they have not been in a long time. And since politicians have so successfully avoided addressing these problems, they lack the fundamental skills required to be truly effective leaders and problem solvers. They have, however, learned how to effectively cover up symptom after symptom, all the while making the system work for them and their top supporters.

Our political leaders are “selectively competent.” You see, our politicians and corporate CEOs have no problem figuring out how to fix problems when it comes to increasing profits, de-regulating industries and finding legislative loop-holes. Without any hesitation, they do some problem solving, invest some time and money, and effectively achieve their goals. But when it comes to meeting the citizens’ demands of fixing a corrupt political and financial system, they are dumbfounded. Thus leading to my conclusion of “selectively competent.”

The political and financial systems need to be remedied, but it must go beyond even that. If the system is going to be improved to help maintain the quality of life of the citizens of this country, we will need to foster a whole new generation of leaders. Ones who harbor the skills needed to run this country efficiently and effectively, and lead the people honestly. For we cannot expect a “better” system to truly work with the same dishonest and corrupt people running it now.

These protests started a movement that is going to affect all of our lives because we are all interconnected whether directly or indirectly. Regardless of our different levels of involvement with these protests, we all play a role and we are involved simply as citizens of this country. Keep in mind, that our unity turns moments like these into opportunities. With this unity, we will gain knowledge and power, and regain our freedom. It is time for a New American Dream. One that has not been privatized at the expense of the average citizen. Denial is no longer an option. We must face our fears and embrace this opportunity to exercise our freedoms as United States citizens.

Call To Action: 

Support the "Occupy" protests
Joint the "Occupy" protests
Sign petitions to support political and legislative change
Spread the word with social media [facebook and twitter]

Difficulty: 
Topic: 
References: 

Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole; Benjamin R. Barber; 2007

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