Where Have the People Gone?

The whole world is protesting for revamps of their governments and the United States is…not participating.

About a week ago here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (where I currently live) there was a massive three-day protest in support of the opposition party CNRP and what is going on in the US?

Assembly Is No Longer Enough

Our country has a fruitful history of civil disobedience and exercising our first amendment right. While I love a good protest as much as the next person, I am beginning to think that assembly is no longer enough.

It seems that now the gap between politics and the common citizen is as wide as it’s ever been. We, as citizens, have signed away many of the freedoms that we pride ourselves on as a nation.

The “Patriot” Act could not be more misleading and in 2012 the Senate passed a bill that allows the military to arrest and detain US citizens without trial—indefinitely. Wait, am I seeing this wrong or is Gitmo no longer a prison but a way of governing?

And the worst part of all is this was done without the faintest murmur from the general public.  On top of that there is no sign that the government will stop the total destruction of the foundations of our country.

People Need a Reason to Take Action

If you’re a reader of the Ella Baker Center blog, I’m guessing you are well aware of what I just said and you are probably more informed than the average citizen about world events as well as national ones.

Like me, you may be wondering how, with technology literally in our pocket, are people less informed now? What happened between the legendary civil rights, Vietnam, and Kent State protests to now?

“I begin to feel like most Americans don’t understand the First
Amendment, don’t understand the idea of freedom of speech, and don’t
understand that it’s the responsibility of the citizen to speak out.”

–Roger Ebert

These days it seems, for some disconcerting reason, people think that government and politics don’t apply to them, and so there is no reason to be informed. This idea is one of the main reasons that protests and assembly are not as effective as they once were.

In order to assemble, or care to assemble, people need to have a reason. In order to have a reason, people must know what is being taken away from them. In order to understand that, they need to know what is going on around them—locally, nationally, internationally.

Find Your Reason: Get Educated & Ask Questions

Finding a reason to assemble and take action starts with the personal choice to educate.

I’m not talking about mainstream education, I am talking “radical” education to ask questions that people don’t want to answer such as: “Mr.President—do you think that because the representatives of the people of this country, including yourself, are so detached from the common person that it may be time to take money out of politics so you can be reminded who you work for and represent?”

Or maybe: “Why has tuition not stopped increasing?” Or: “Why are there now prisons that are running a profit on prisoners? What does this mean for at-risk communities?” Or: “Why does a news station like FOX have airtime and no credibility while other outlets such as Democracy Now have credibility and no public airtime?” This would be a good start.

Who Are We and What Do We Stand For?

So what’s to be done? That is always the tricky question and to be honest I am not sure.

I do know as a whole we need to be reconnected with the government. We need to be properly educated on what is going on in our name within our own country as well as outside of it.

And we need to start making demands that our policy makers won’t have a choice but to adhere to. I want to see the revival of political consciousness among the people. It is time for a serious reevaluation of who we are and what we stand for.

And if that identity doesn’t match the laws, policies, and actions of our great nation then it is time to start asking those hard questions, getting answers, and making changes.

Why do you think more US residents aren’t protesting in the streets? What does it take to move people to action? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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