Rotation vs. Revolution

23 09 2008

2000 – Bush vs. Gore

2004 – Bush vs. Kerry

2008 – McCain vs. Obama

Will we learn from our mistakes?

Have you ever watched the first season of Heroes? How about the first season (and the first half of season 2) of Jericho? Ever see the movie The Cradle Will Rock? Ever read Plato’s Republic? No? Well, that’s OK. Even those of us who haven’t enjoyed the entertainment value of revolutions understand that it is not a passive act of resistance that dominates the landscape of change, though it can be the catalyst. Revolution hurts – it always hurts somebody, and most of the time it hurts a lot of people before it helps anyone. The thing is, even the smallest change is worth fighting for, and even the smallest change can help reclaim our place in the world.

Technology has helped to make our worlds bigger and smaller at the same time. Some people use technology like blogging to connect with other like minded individuals. We share ideas, we challenge eachother, we think, we disagree, we learn, but most importantly seek others’ opinions. Maybe we troll around to other blogs and callously spread our own opinions, thus pissing off people with whom we disagree. That, too, is part of sharing ideas. In these small ways we fight our own private revolutions of the mind, seeking and presenting challenges so that we can grow. Without our predatory hunt for change we become the prey of others’ revolutions. The spirit of determining our own destiny enables us to move toward change in baby steps and on our own terms. Without that proactive search for the next level of understanding, we become stagnant targets of fate’s idle hands.

The Boston Tea Party did not change the fate of our nation out of boredom. Those people took thousands of dollars of merchandise and tossed it into the ocean. Would you board a ship that had $2 million worth of laptops on it and dump them into the ocean? That’s the equivalent to what they did. They weren’t anarchists – quite the opposite. They demanded that the government include them, or there would be consequences. Depending on who you quote, around 2,750 people tipped the crates of tea the night of a heated town meeting. The total population in the colonies at that time was around 275,000. That means around 10% of the population joined together to accomplish a single act of rebellion. That’s the equivalent of 3 million people in the U.S. joining together during this election cycle. In one place. At one time. There are really only two places that 3 million people could gather in the U.S. – 1) the Washington National Mall in D.C. with the Washington monument in the background, and 2) the internet.

So here we are, and the first presidential debate is on Friday night at 9pm New York time. Many of us will be gathering at apartments and houses of political sympathizers to witness the first of four life altering “debates”. But are they really debates? Not really. They’re a pageant – a way of showcasing the best side of each candidate and hopefully exposing a few kinks in the armor of the other person. Most of us already know who we are voting for, even if we’re conflicted about how much we support them. Is that a good thing? Should we know who we’re voting for before the first debate? Is the policy for each candidate set in stone? Could we nudge them one way or the other? I mean, I don’t think we’ll have much luck pushing Obama to be pro-life or McCain to be pro-tax increases. Surely there are areas where each are, shall we say, grey? Raising the minimum wage, regulating Wall Street, investing in roads and infrastructure – these are areas that directly impact the vast majority of voters. Those voters who wish to be heard need to speak up.

Revolution of the mind happens like any other change – one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Contact your senator and member of congress to let them know what you want. Challenge others’ ideas now, with respect and humility, so they have a chance to catch up to your advanced intellect by Election Day.

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