Dumbeks along the Mississippi
The people of Egypt are writing a new chapter in the book of revolution. The story is by no means complete. We have no way of knowing how deep the changes will go. Mubarak has stepped down. But just what it means that the “higher council of the armed forces will lead the nation,” as Mubarak’s hand-picked VP has said, we don’t know. Nor, I suspect, does that higher council, or the protesters.
What does that mean for US here in the USA? Yes, it means the Middle East and Northern Africa are in transition and we’ve got to change our foreign policy. But that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is here, on the ground, in the USofA. What do we do about OUR government?
No, we’ve not been living under a state of emergency for three decades. And, yes, we do have democratic elections, local, state, and federal. But one can’t help but believe that the fix is in. Writing in The New York Times (of all places), Bob Herbert observes:
While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn’t really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance.
We are being ruled by a class of people that is out of touch with life on the ground, and that has enough money that they need no longer walk the same soil with the rest of us. They look like us, talk like us, and walk like us. But more and more, they are less and less like us. They are becoming aliens. Our alien overlords.
How do we get out from under them? We don’t want violence, we don’t want bloodshed. But we want to turn the country around and march to the future, not admire our accomplishments in the mirror of the past. Those accomplishments were built on abundant resources and those resources are becoming scarce. Even as the oil runs out, the peoples of Asia, Africa, and South America are calling for their just share of the world’s resources. The world is changing and the Democrats and the Republicans in the USofA don’t know it. They’re doing their damnedest to keep the old machines running.
What happens when those machines run out of oil?
We can’t wait for them to wake. What can we do now to reclaim our lives and our future? And how to we regain control of our political system? The Egyptians have made their move in a political system that has far less room for movement than our system has. Let’s not let our relative freedom trick us into believing we can rest secure in business as usual. To quote Bob Herbert again, “the Egyptians want to establish a viable democracy, and that’s a long, hard road. Americans are in the mind-bogglingly self-destructive process of letting a real democracy slip away.”
The Egyptians have begun the arduous, but fulfilling task of rebuilding their society from the ground up. Let’s take their new beginning as a call for us to emulate them and do the same in our world.