It always starts with with an overreach. Throughout history, dictators and tyrants have run roughshod over the people until they overplay their hands. The powerful build bridges on top of the masses until the powerful go a bridge too far. The people can only take so much oppression and abuse by their government before they rise up and overthrow tyrants who use authority to bleed the commoners. Endless repression eventually gives way to a reverb as the people say enough! The straws that broke the life of many eventually become the reed that breaks the backs of the despots who bleed many.
Overreach has been the womb that gave birth to endless revolutions throughout history. America’s history is proof of this; the colonialists rose up against the British crown in part because they had enough of a king who was governing them without consent. Revolution after revolution can be traced back to dictators who pushed too much; not happy with taking a pound of flesh from the citizens, the gentry push their luck by feeding on the hopes of the people and entombing the people into the abyss of utter hopelessness. It usually takes a catalyst—what is at first dismissed as a meaningless gesture—to eventually capture the imagination of the people and gives voice to the simmering indignation that the public harbored for too long.
I mentioned the word reverb before; you see, revolutions always echo into a boom from one voice to many. Let’s go back in time; not too long ago actually. The year is 1965 and a once bit player by the name of Nicolae Ceaușescu took over in Romania during the height of the Cold War. Romania back then was part of the “iron curtain”, the nickname Winston Churchill gave to the client states of the USSR which served as a marker between NATO states and the red bear.
Empowered by the USSR, Nicolae would go on to rule Romania with an iron fist and blood-soaked boots. For over two decades, this ghoulish tyrant silenced dissent and butchered dissidents in ways that Nero would have been proud of. Through sheer barbarity, he cowed the people into submission and acceptance of oppression as a norm. Few found the courage to question Nicolae; those who did mostly met final judgement by ways of bullets and torture chambers.
But as tyrants always do, Nicolae overplayed his hand. During the winter of 1989, the public started to agitate for freedom after being aggrieved for decades. The flareup and eventual breaking point was caused by the most innocuous of moments compared to the heat Romanians faced for more than twenty years. After witnessing endless injustices and noting untold number of their fellow citizens disappear into thin air, injustice had become as common as the flu in Juneau.
But then acceptance gave way to defiance inspired by the most random of moments. The instance that awakened the masses was the attempted eviction of an ethnic Hungarian pastor from a town called Timișoara. The irony of it; Romanians were stirred into resistance by the persecution of someone who was not even Romanian. Goes to show, injustice does not know labels. When the people eventually rose up, it was not based on ethnicity, race, or isms. Romanians were moved to act galvanized by human suffering.
Nicolae did what he always did, he sent in his military police and security forces to crush the rebellion. The state police went in armed to the teeth and loosened hell on the demonstrators. Students had joined the protesters, but to the security forces, they saw students, priests and the people alike as a threat that had to be silenced. By the time the smoke cleared on the night of December 18th, 1989, the lifeless bodies of dozens of men, women and children were strewn on the sidewalks of Timișoara and countless more were maimed and injured. This was just business as usual in Romania, no one thought twice of it at first—the sense and sensibilities of the people were desensitized by two decades of repression.
Hubris, when people are fed up, is like exhaling benzene at a flickering matchstick—not a very smart move. Decades of ruling through arrogance got the better of Nicolae; instead of letting things simmer down and letting anger settle, he did the opposite. A few days after the vicious crackdown, Nicolae decided to give a public speech to show the people who was in charge. In the middle of a cold winter day, he held court on the balcony of the presidential palace overlooking a sea of people. This was normal for him, an imp with a Napoleon complex, he coerced Romanians on a regular basis to attend his public speeches forcing people to bow before him—except this time he was stacking up fire logs that would eventually incinerate him. He took to the microphone to assure the people that he was the boss and that nothing had changed.
All the sudden, the reverb started. The chant of Timișoara! Timișoara! Timișoara! started in the very back of the crowd. As Nicolae kept talking, the chant grew stronger. Change started at the periphery and soon enough enveloped Nicolae in an ocean of defiant cadence. And it was at this exact time that Nicolae showed his cowardice. He did the one thing that revealed his inner gutlessness. When he heard the chant of Timișoara!, he froze and flinched.
His wife Elena sensed the mortal threat the flinch represented to the rule of her husband—she rushed to his side to prop him up and steel the spine of the monstrous coward. Too late, the people finally saw that Nicolae’s iron fist was made of clay; those who kill and destroy to perpetuate their power are nothing but cavernous bullies who shrivel when they get punched in the nose. In short order, Nicolae was overthrown; after he and his wife were found cowering in a tank, both were summarily executed. Those who rule through the gun go away by the gun.
I cite the story of Nicolae in light of the political and social climate we now live in. Tyrants and oppressors have learned from the mistakes of previous despots. Instead of ruling with an iron fist, they have turned to a mix of duplicity, demagoguery and grievance peddling in order to fracture the people into islands of resentment as a means of pitting the people against each other. Politicians, pundits, and social actor-vists from Van Jones, Sara Palin to your favorite partisan hack have been unleashed by their corporate patrons to whisper anger and outrage into our ears so that our eyes are perpetually subverted from the true source of injustice.
We are letting endless forms of identities get in the way of our common humanity. In the process, those who think they are fighting against injustice are actually contributing to it as they battle for ideologies, parties, and keep seeking justice through the prism of isms. We play into the hands of the powerful; we shadow box against ourselves as the rich and powerful jab and laugh at all of us.
Do you want to know who is really for the cause apart from those who use “the cause” as a shtick to earn status and make money? It’s not too hard, just remember these two axioms:
- those who are afforded access to Mainstream Media and given a platform to peddle grievance are working FOR the system of injustice that they are supposedly speaking against
- those who present injustice through partisan prisms (speaking against other people and feeding into the “us versus them” paradigm instead of standing up for universal justice) are either witless idiots or willful assholes working FOR the system they rage against
Now let’s apply this logic to your favorite politician or pundit. I was speaking to a guy named Michael earlier this morning as I was returning a laptop charger at the corporate cancer that is Walmart. I told him how I was once one of the biggest supporters of Barack Obama until I realized that Obama was a fraud who sold dreams to his followers in order to gain power. Michael agreed with me and then tried to sell me on Bernie Sanders.
To which I broke down the two points of how to identify frauds and double tongued deceivers and he belatedly agreed. Now I know that my Bernie fans will get mad at what I said, but I ask you, if Bernie was really against the system, why did he endorse the despicable corporate toady Hillary? Where was his courage when it was needed the most? Instead he got whipped back in line and acceded to the wishes of the Democratic National Committee.
All Bernie does is rage against injustice on social media yet does nothing in the Senate to actually act against the political, economic, and social injustices he rants against. One senator can tie up the entirety of congress through procedural tactics such as blue slip vetoes, filibusterers and endless senatorial gambits. Instead he takes to Twitter and throws temper tantrums against injustices as though he is a hapless bystander. Moreover, he feeds into the friction by presenting the Republicans as the nefarious source of injustice and presenting Democrats as the solution to our misfortunes.
Political expediency more important than courage, he did little to criticize the corporate stooge Obama who was doing the same things that Trump is now doing. This is true of all politicians on the left side of the aisle from Bernie to Corey Booker to Elizabeth Warren. This is also true of Republicans from Rubio, Palin to McCain and beyond. This is especially true of the political pundits on all sides. All of them are just toying with our emotions and manipulating us as a way of diverting our attention from the true source of injustice. They call their most loyal supporters “their base”—as in the bottom rung schmucks who are always a dependable vote. Are we really this gullible to keep falling for these antics?
Before my Trump supporting friends get a little too overjoyed that I am banging at the establishment, let me discuss the ignoramus Donald for a minute. Remember how some of you were outraged that Obama was ruling by fiat and shredding the constitution by abusing executive orders in order to govern through edicts. I mean, for years Republicans were outraged by Obama’s executive overreach right?
So what does Trump do in the first week of his administration? He immediately turns to executive orders to enact one law after another by the same executive edicts that Obama pushed. Ah, but where politics exist, logic is non-existent; the same Republicans and conservatives who were rightly outraged by Obama’s executive excesses are now celebrating the way that Trump is acting with impunity as he abrogates the constitution to curry favor with the same corporate interests he slithered his tongue against.
Let me act a little less scholarly here and just speak plainly if you allow it. WTF! How long are we going to get played by these pricks? Don’t you see what they are doing to us? They are fracturing us on purpose so that we fight each other as the powerful bleed all of us. Look I’m not being pious here nor is my purpose to pretend moral superiority; the only reason I discovered the fraudulence of our politics is because I had my own Timișoara experience as I endured a two year dance with hardship and poverty.
It was a severe kick of indigence, homelessness and loneliness that led to this revelation I’m sharing. A revelation of the deception we are continuously fed by these two double-dealing political parties, the corporate owned media, and a never ending procession of media personalities selling books along with their souls for the sake of fame. The truth is being murdered endlessly by political operatives from left to right—the victims are us, the people, while the rich and famous feed on our hopes.
It is in times like this that revolutions are born. But I’m not espousing nor asking for a violent revolution; we have tried that before and it has been proven over time that guns only beget the same injustices that guns once fought against. All revolutions, including the revolution of 1776, devolve right back into the tyranny that gave birth to them. Think that is not the case in America? The founders fought against excessive taxes and being ruled without representation right? Well let’s see, after you take into account the endless taxes that take a chunk from your paycheck, you are lucky to walk away with 60% of what you busted your ass to make.
Now add on top of that the endless streams of fees that we are forced to pay from tolls to parking fees, and we are literally being drowned by an economic tsunami. But wait! There’s more! On top of all this fleecing is the thievery of economic terrorism which has been set upon us as inflation is mugging the mass majority of people right into insolvency. Go ahead, step out and get a sandwich and chips and see if you don’t pay at least $10. One meal costs more than the minimum wage! What the Romanians felt through guns and bullets we are being mauled with taxes, fees and inflation! #PaperNapkinRevolution Click To Tweet
Our government is following in the footsteps of Nicolae and erstwhile dictators. The overreach is coming soon and it is when they overplay their hands that we, the people, will finally rise up. A catalyst will awaken the masses as a straw finally breaks the myopia of the people and stirs them into action. Consider this the straw that I am adding to that camel, a straw that I hope one day become a reed that will unite the people and bleed from our spleens the hatred and divisiveness they keep feeding us.
I pray that we disregard politics that divide us and instead unite through the very humanity that we all have in common. In every country, from my home America to the womb Ethiopia that gave birth to me, I pray that dictators skulk into the night and freedom is birthed where once oppression flourished. I do not wish for any leader the fate that befell Nicolae, hatred cannot be repaid with hatred for only love will liberate us from oppression. But I do pray for our liberation from those who benefit as the masses, from Chicago to Appalachians to all points in between, suffer without redress.
The Declaration of Independence was once written by Thomas Jefferson on what was effectively a paper napkin. This is true of most revolutions, thinkers and idealists pour out their hearts and their dreams for their fellow men and women on scraps of paper. Usually, audacious hopes are dismissed as delusional idealism and met with chuckles and snorts. Until a Timișoara moment happens and the blood of innocents nourishes the aspirations of freedom sojourners. So consider this article a paper napkin that I am presenting to you; the paper napkin you see above was written by a random stranger at a coffee shop this morning, the contours of this missive inspired by the ideas exchanged with a fellow writer at Subway who I saw writing in her journal, and by a barista who said “justice is fighting for freedom non-violently”. Sublime ins’t it?
As for me, I have learned to have faith in God and to not fear repercussions. Courage is not politics, courage is walking with the same people you speak for. Though I did not arrive at this place of penury by choice, I nonetheless pick up my cross and count hardship as blessings. I will do my part to test this pretense that we as Americans have free speech and am willing to face any consequences to speak my truth instead of cowering for the sake of existence.
My life I place in God’s hand but any misfortune that might befall me I place at the feet of my own government here in America. However, forget who the messenger is because I am inconsequential; focus instead on the message. I am asking you to put away politics and to stop viewing injustice through your personal prism and instead seek justice through the lens of universal suffrage. Are you interested in justice or are you just using justice to feed your political identity?
Reflect on that question and think twice about what it is you are pursuing; just know in the end that you can’t fight hatred with hatred nor can you defeat ignorance through yet more ignorance. This time calls for unity above all and for love to be the guiding light that will deliver us from the clutches of economic, social and political repression. From paper napkins to a renewed constitution; this is the true audacity of hope that will make America great again and liberate the world from oppression. The change will come from us, the people, not from the rich, famous, and powerful whose fortunes are made through the continuation of injustice. Power to us the people, justice one day for those who continue to unleash Timișoara on US. #PaperNapkinRevolutions
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” ~ John F. Kennedy
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Let this video serve as a warning to those who oppress the people, the sliver of society that flourish as we are diminished. Be careful of your arrogance or the REVERB will come for you the same way it came for Nicolae…
Want to know how to overcome tyranny? It is not by turning to hate or going the way of the gun, unity and love for humanity is the only way to defeat hate.
Look at the picture below, will you be that first who stands up and unites the masses? The might of the powerful is their guns, the power of the people is our unity. The iron fist of oppressors will turn to clay the minute we put away what makes us different and unite as a people.
A personal appeal to active duty military, police, and especially veterans who know personally of the excesses of our corrosive government. I reside upon countless veterans who have been broken by the same government they sacrificed to protect. Patriotism is not unflinching support of power, patriotism is standing up against enemies of the people both foreign and domestic. I am asking you to stand against those in power and to stand with us, the people, because you are of us and one of us. God bless veterans world wide and those who protect us. This article below is my way of saying that I silently salute you. Click on the picture to read Silent Salute.
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.
Latest posts by Lij Teodrose Fikremariam (see all)
- Ethiopia’s Choice: Poverty through Grievance or Prosperity through Unity - September 9, 2019
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- A Matter of Life or Death: We Cannot Afford to Ignore Mental Illnesses Any Longer - August 17, 2019