“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.” Miss Piggy
There is a tradition in this great country of its citizens coming together and voicing their opinions in the cause of some issue or subject which has created situations that are seemed to be detrimental to the population. It is an inherent tradition reaching back to the Founding Fathers beginning with the courageous and costly decision to publish and deliver the Declaration of Independence. In one brief moment of unity our country both created itself while metaphorically throwing down the gauntlet before the largest empire in the world. It has served the American public to protest in many cases, and it has humiliated that same public when words and actions of derision fail to secure the desired result.
In the real time that is 2013 we have recently viewed both the success and failure once again of grass roots protest paradigms. Certainly the “Yes We Can” movement has succeeded and enjoyed this success through two terms for the President. The Tea Party is an example of, arguably, dismal failure and the sadness of that failure has created much pain and near treasonous disparity in the government and the public. The original ideals of the Tea Party sounded and seemed noble and probably would have been…if the movement had not been suborned into the submission that big money demands of all. A system of carefully crafted rhetoric making accusations, mostly out of context, has brought many to the belief in the insidious message of the 1%. Even sadder is the reality that many listen and adhere to the rhetoric without question. We need only to go as far as the Twelve Step paradigm to realize the enormous frailty of this kind of thinking currently rampant in many;
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” – Herbert Spencer
It is our right to have access to the information needed to make decisions about how our country is run. Unfortunately, it is also our right to be provided with an equal and sometime excessive amount of disinformation. So where does that leave us?
Our efforts at protest have always been a mishmash of loud verbal demonstrations and violent disputes. Few are vastly successful such as the Civil Rights March on Washington that the “I have a dream” message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Others sadly do little to solve any difficulties. We allowed overbearing and overtly Un-American laws to be enacted and have suffered the consequences. We allowed for the implementation of the Patriot Act as a defense against the monsters that perpetrated the 911 attacks without taking into account that that same law we thought would protect us has heralded in the denial of constitutional rights. We have accepted the horror of the heinous while permitting the desecration of Democracy.
One example of a failed protest that could have been something of benefit was the Occupy Wall Street movement born on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City’s Wall Street financial district. Patterned after other protests around the globe such as British student protests of 2010, 2009-2010 Iranian election protests, and the Arab Spring protests and, more closely related, protests in Greece and Spain. These predecessors have in common with the Occupy movement a dependence on social media and electronic messaging, along with the conviction that financial institutions, corporations, and the political elite have been unscrupulous in their comportment youth and the middle class. A stand against the financial folly perpetrated by the administration of the larger institutions responsible for the management of the American public’s monies and reserves. The government had gone through the debacle of the bailout in order to lessen the blow to the economy that might be created with the fall of some of these corporations. They also called for a constitutional amendment addressing corruption in government.
They championed such things as a decrease in the pressure corporations exert on politics, rational dispersal of income, more and better jobs, fiscal reform by banks, the forgiveness of student loan debt, or other relief for indebted students, along with mitigation of the foreclosure crisis.
Three hundred people showed up in answer to a call for 20,000 and the incident had little or no lasting effect. Over the next several months 700 people were arrested and thousands of dollars expended with the only real benefit being the addition to the Politically Correct Dictionary of the Universe terms such as “the 1%” and the 99%.” While these supplements to the English language have become flashcard rhetoric targeted at the social media and its main avenues of dissemination such as Facebook, Twitter, and the myriad of sites in that genre, lasting realization of stated goals and aspirations have been than desired. Not to worry, the movement did achieved one dubious goal. PRNews noted “The results, obviously, have been spectacular. There’s hardly a newspaper, Internet or broadcast media outlet that hasn’t covered OWS.”
Do we really wish to be a society educated, shepherded, or defined by what we read on some website? Does modern technology define our beliefs? Are we truly a country of “unalienable rights” as given us by the words of our founding document? Does the electronic mini-verse genuinely allow us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? If so, than perhaps our protests need to fail. If all we can get out of diligent discernment to the principles of a true democracy is a sound bite, or a Viral Video, then perhaps it is not the protests that have failed, but the American people. We are in the dire need of open dissent and thoughtful debate. We must reinstate that which has been yielded through ignorance.