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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Words from "Skillet": Out in the Streets

It seems to me that lots of advertising campaigns are geared towards making everybody’s hectic life a little more manageable. That got me thinking: If we’re all so busy, what the hell are we doing with our precious time?

In the past two weeks more than 3,500 young French adults have been arrested in protests across the European nation, stating their dissatisfaction with a new labor law that will allow employers to more easily hire and fire young, first-time workers. Depending on the source, estimates of total protestors over the past two weeks range between 1,000,000-4,000,000 people! And since the proposed law—which was recently signed and temporarily suspended by French President Jaques Chirac— allows employers to hire and fire workers 26 years old and under (at any point during their first two years on the job) it can reasonably be assumed that the majority of those protesting fit that demographic. That means that a huge percentage of those affected by the new law have demonstrated their displeasure to the powers-that-be, by taking to the streets and making their voices heard. Moreover, the fact that Chirac has suspended the law and promises to make changes (e.g. the term when employers could hire and fire would be cut to one year, and workers would have to be given a reason for the firing) shows that these acts are making a difference.

In Nepal, journalists, lawyers, and teachers have recently been detained for protesting the non-Democratic rule of King Gyanendra, who seized control of the country more than a year ago. In Jakarta, thousands of workers recently took to the streets to protest changes in Indonesian labor laws which would benefit potential investors and hurt the workers themselves.

I’d imagine that all of these people have busy lives too. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that a number of these folks probably have busier lives than you or I, by virtue of their low wages and poor living conditions. For example, I doubt that your average Indonesian picks up dinner at McDonald’s. They likely have to WALK to the market, barter for the needed items, WALK back home, and prepare dinner. Sounds like a lot more work then hopping in the SUV and yelling into the box at the drive-thru. So, what are WE so busy doing?

I would argue that the majority of us are in the petty pursuit of materialism. Beyond that, we are sitting at home, implanted in front of our TVs, game systems or computer screens. So, what has made us this way? Maybe it’s something in the tap water or subliminal messages we are bombarded with on a daily basis…or maybe we have just become a society of lazy, useless, lethargic pieces of shit who feel entitled to a life of luxury by virtue of the fact that we are citizens of the self-proclaimed superpower of the universe.

Yesterday marked the 39th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. A true American hero with the ability to motivate the people to get off their laurels, challenge authority and promote change…all without advocating violence as a means to an end. Does his spirit not live on? When did people become so content with allowing government officials and special interests to determine how we live and what is best for us? What ever happened to asking why and doing something to make a change? I guess we’re all just too busy.

Just remember: As you rush to get home and watch the round of 12 on American Idol there are real problems in your country, state, hometown and neighborhood. Our federal government is sponsoring terrorism and creating xenophobia, pointing the finger at Islamic Fundamentalists. Much like the Coalition Forces in Iraq, police are becoming occupying forces in urban neighborhoods, instilling fear and hate amongst its inhabitants. In Minneapolis, leaders are calling for more police and changes to entertainment districts— following two horribly tragic random murders in the past two weeks—when, in reality, it’s all a euphemistic way of creating public policy to get minorities out and make the white suburbanites more comfortable. It’s time to look around you and start making a difference.

So, now what? I would ask everyone who reads this to find something they are passionate about and try to make a change. Property taxes too high? Call your legislator and ask them why they feel it’s ok to increase taxes 14% annually when you’re only getting a 3% cost-of-living increase. Want that blighted property on your block cleaned up? Then do something about it. Organize a block club, start a petition and hassle your elected officials until something gets done.

We live in the greatest country on earth, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without faults. By continuing to remain indifferent and uninvolved we are, essentially, giving license to those in power to decide what’s best for us. Do something to stop that trend, before it’s too late. You don’t have to burn down city hall to make a difference…but you do have to GET OFF YOUR ASS!

If you read this entire blog and remain ambivalent about the world you live in, maybe you are the problem. Want to do something, but don’t have any ideas? Check this out: subversive activities. It provides ideas for easy acts of civil disobedience that may motivate others to start working for change as well.

The revolution will NOT be televised.

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