Memorial Day has passed, our day to honor and remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen and women who gave their lives for America. Yet a day does not pass without me mourning the America they've lost their lives for.
On the front page of Sunday's New York Times May 27th is a photograph of a U.S. soldier. Head bowed, he walks through a field of poppies in Afghanistan. The color is lurid; a festoon of camouflage masks his helmet and his skin tone picks up the pink of the poppy flesh. The photo accompanies an article about poppy production waning in Afghanistan, yet I can't help but see a symbol for we the people in the poppy field, doped up on diversion: celebrity 'news', the social media frenzy, television and its reality shows, warring talking heads, all the useless information we're besieged by 24/7. While time races forward we barely move, as if frozen in a narcotic trance, willingly anesthetized to the brutality of a system controlled by corporate greed as it continues ripping the heart from our country.
Don't let anyone kid you, we are not in a recession. Those of us over a certain income bracket may not feel it but it's a depression on all counts and the U.S. is merely the tip of the Hindenburg as governance by corporate greed continues its worldwide plunder. I know it's old news by now, but when I heard about the recent 'higher education policy' in England, the spine-chilling scope of this hit like a punch. Knowing they could count on a decent education and not having to worry about college tuitions has always been an intrinsic comfort and source of pride for the English. When I first traveled to London, I'll never forget the awe I felt as I spoke with a working class kid in Shepherd's Bush -- a twelve year old -- who was far more articulate than an entire pack of American working class adolescents attempting to string a sentence together.
So, now this hateful American-born corporate greed isn't content with ruining the U.S., it will bully other countries into the stupidity of its own populace in order to continue its global pillaging? Are we proud to be Americans?
How do we dethrone the oligarchy? Every citizen of the US should be obligated to read Thomas Paine's The Crisis, replacing the tyranny of 1776's Britain with America's corporate tyranny. If one were to care about the state of the country instead of playing ostrich and to have sympathy for hardworking people who can hardly feed their families, for the young adults who leave college buried in debt with no job prospects, for the seniors tossed from homes they've dutifully paid for all their lives and lost in predatory lending schemes by bankers who knocked on their doors with unctuous smiles, well... what can one do to help change this tragic system?
In a recent issue of The New Republic, Richard Posner writes: "If we were being honest with ourselves, we would call this a depression. That would certainly better convey both the severity of our problems, and the fact that those problems have no evident solutions." Feel the endless spin.
I agree with your viewpoint Mr. Posner, but, 'no evident solutions'? Really? How about we start with the glaringly apparent? What if the American people begin by demanding:
• the corporate Republicans stand down and end the filibuster(s)?
• the percentage of the income tax we pay actually be reflective of our incomes?
• outsourcing be declared a felony?
• lobbying be declared a felony?
• an end to privatization of public institutions, especially prisons and schools?
• the roll-back of corporate 'rights' of personhood?
• the banks be prosecuted for economic crimes against the people?
and last but hardly least,
• universal health care for all?
How do we, the American people, make demands on our government? Watching Bill Maher take the piss out of Mitt Romney's magic underwear, hardy har, won't change anything, and Rachel Maddow can't do it alone. I'm elated that Obama has come out in support of gay marriage. But every time things start smelling even more rotten than seems possible in Denmark, have you noticed how they trot out the gays as a diversionary Punch and Judy show while our air, food and minds are being poisoned, our pockets picked, our hopes for a decent future for our children fall ever further into ruin...
We certainly have no power to vote directly on the most crucial issues which affect us so profoundly. The 'representatives' we vote in to fight for our interests have pretty much all been bought by the corporate powers who continue to destroy the 99%. Demonstrations for a wide range of causes are crucial and are building a nationwide grassroots movement, but are they really changing anything? The corporations in question own the media and they keep the demonstrations and numbers under-reported if at all; they've learned from the 1960's and 1970's that what we don't hear about, we won't be tempted to participate in. Sad to say but ultimately these demonstrations are akin to a pack of mewling kittens pinned beneath the boot of corporate brawn. On one hand the internet is helping to bring like-minded US citizens together, but its rhizomatic nature keeps all the groups who should be working toward a common goal apart. Divided and conquered are we.
I know this will sound a bit aerie faerie but allow me to indulge myself in a dream. Imagine if we all begin by carrying a pocketbook copy of the Constitution with us, on us. At all times. Imagine we take a walk outside and we read and discuss it with others we meet, with our children. All of America in one exciting communal civics class. The Constitution is the backbone of our democracy. It should be to Americans what the Little Red Book was to Mao's China. Remember the battle cry "No taxation without representation!" Imagine we simply stop paying our taxes. Every one of us. We refuse to go to work. We stop buying anything that isn't absolutely necessary for our survival and we bring the entire country to a screeching halt. We turn off the radio, the computer, the TV and we turn to each other. We the people fight back until the government makes the changes necessary to restore our Constitution, our economy and our democracy.
A very simple solution lies within the words of our country's greatest Republican president Abraham Lincoln in his address to the nation at Gettysburg; "...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." The simple solution spoken here is that we highly resolve. The complexity of the solution lies in pulling everyone together, but most of us are too petrified and/or apathetic to do what it actually will take to shake the boot off our backs.
The Republican bullies of today and those who support them shame not only our noble forefathers, but the memory of all those who have lost their lives to protect America's liberty. I want to take pride in being an American. I want the country I was promised as a little girl, the liberty, freedom and justice that my father and your father fought for. May every day be a memorial day as we honor and remember the promise of a country we've all longed for, no matter our apparent differences.
"They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation." - Henry Ward Beecher