We have settled into a pattern of outrage and indignation at the injustices of the world only to be followed with inertia. We have seemingly been rendered irrelevant by a system that takes from many in order to enrich the few who sit atop all of us. We protest and demand justice, but after the hue and cry ends, all is forgotten and the status quo never changes. It’s down right depressing; massive slaughters, mass theft, and breathtaking corruption takes place on a regular basis and all we have at our disposal are hashtags, memes, symbolic protests and meaningless elections.
Perhaps we are approaching this the wrong way. It is easy, after all, to rage against iniquities in abstraction and march for a day and return to “normal”, but doing so overlooks our complicity and neglects the part we play in perpetuating these excesses we rage against. We have taken ourselves out of the equation even though our compliance is the engine that powers the establishment. The “elites” call us their base for a reason; we are the foundation on which the pyramid scheme is built upon—our backs are their bedrocks. If we want change to come about, we better start by looking in the mirror.
I’m not advocating some radical course of action like unplugging from society and leading “off the grid” lives. Extremism is not needed to overturn a system that is sustained by extreme avarice. Incremental changes in our daily decisions could have a tremendous impact on both our politics and our economic system. Let’s start off with this premise: concentrated power and consolidated wealth are the enemies of all things good in this world. When two parties have a strangle hold on our governance and three billionaires are worth more than the bottom 40% of society, what is realized is a nation that feeds on the general population in order to nourish the neo-aristocracy. This is not good for humanity nor is it healthy for the gentry; people only take so much suffering before they follow the French model and turn to guillotine solutions.
Before we reach this tipping point of mass carnage, it is up to us—the people—to turn the ship around through collective action with unity as our guiding light. We can’t depend on the 1% to course correct, plutocrats and their puppets who are drunk on power do not have the ability to reflect and do what is best for society. This is why it is beyond naive to depend on political saviors, why do we expect people who keep hitting blackjack to demand a new deal for everyone else at the table who keeps busting. Alternating between Republicans and Democrats and hoping for change is no different than switching liquor brands to combat alcoholism.
The key to our redemption lies in our hands. The threats to our livelihood are evident; corporatism and federalism are the roots of most evils in this world. Both maintain their power by eradicating competition and both enrich themselves by impoverishing humanity. Federalism is actually a subset of corporatism, corporations have a strangle hold on government and mandate policies by weaponizing their vast wealth and influence. Our nation is a corporation whereby 50 states are franchises of a centralized bureaucracy headquartered in Washington, DC. DC, in return, follows the dictates of central bankers and Wall Street, our sovereignty ended the minute JP Morgan forced Woodrow Wilson to institute the Federal Reserve as his price for bailing out America.
Upon further reflection, America has never been responsive to the people. It’s always been about the rich competing with other rich people over who gets the lion’s share of the wealth while the public at large are tossed apple pie crumbs. The American Revolution, the Civil War, and all subsequent wars were about money and had little to do with morality. The poor and working class fight and die for the wars concocted by the gentry. Each time a mass insurrection has been attempted, from Shays Rebellion to John Brown’s raid in Harpers Ferry and beyond, they have been brutally quelled by the heavy hand of the federal government.
“When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government.” ~ Declaration of Independence
As we have witnessed one too many times throughout our history, beautiful prose and moving declarations have no basis in reality. With each successive decade, we keep creeping closer to a type of despotism that makes the tyranny of King George look downright benevolent. While the poor and working class are levied to the hilt with regressive taxes that take a third of our earnings, the rich and powerful keep gaming the system to pay minimal taxes. There is no need to segregate the classes, there are only three: the impoverished, the workers who depend on wages and the barons who bleed the impoverished and the workers to enrich themselves. Click To Tweet
If we are to turn around this most egregious system of wealth transference and capital theft, we can only do so by empowering our localities and building up our communities. Convenience and comfort have heavy price tags, we are turning ourselves into surfs with our purchasing decisions and our voting conniptions. Instead of buying goods at Walmart or Amazon and believing in a blue wave or some scam to make America great again, shop at a local merchant and do more to reinvest our earnings in our communities. Likewise, instead of sending politicians to DC to have their souls inverted by the duopoly, let us focus our energies on breaking the back of this two party criminal enterprise by refusing to vote for our own subjugation and consequently giving cover to a government that is no longer legitimate.
The only way these things can be accomplished is through unity. Our politics thrives through division, the only ones who flourish in this paradigm are the people who are getting paid to sustain the status quo and the uber rich who pay them. The rest of us are all victims to one degree or another, it is the height of folly to aim our ire at others who struggle and suffer just like us. We let demagogues splinter us through artificial dissections; constructs manufactured out of whole cloth prevent us from seeing our connective pains and hopes. Identity and ideology are not our friends, they are the tools of oppressors.
Memorial Day was supposed to be a day where we remember the countless people who have died in these wars that continue without end. Yet even this day has been inverted to further the agendas of the war machine and obfuscate the suffering of those who perish. War is hell for all except for the few who earn millions each time humanity is obliterated by the military-industrial complex. Even those who survive the battle field suffer in silence; one veteran commits suicide every twenty minutes and thousands more endure horrors as they try to cope with PTSD that never ends. A remembrance with pomp and pageantry is just another empty gesture, what we need is a national reflection and a soul searching on this Memorial Day weekend.
Above all, let us look within ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi once noted that we must be the change we want to see in the world. Let us commit to planting seeds of love and forbearance in soils where hate and antagonism are fertile. As we demand justice for people we will never meet, let us not forget the broken who we walk over daily. A simple act of kindness can do more to change the world than a thousand protests—I speak on these things from experience. As we do all these things, let us be kind to ourselves. It is easy to get undone by the grievances of the world and get mired in depression; I beseech you to find happiness in spite of it all and defiantly smile in the face of malfeasance. It’s a matter of time before darkness gives way to the light that resides in all of us. #MemorialReflection
None are greater than the other, we all are greater when we love and are kind to one another::
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.