Monday, August 15, 2011

What Happens in the Middle East Stays in the Middle East: Facebook Revolution in America?


In the last year we've seen a number of Arab governments taken to their knees by popular uprisings demanding change. Painfully high unemployment, rising costs for goods and housing and abuses of government power and corruption just got to be too much for these populations, so they let their collective voice be heard. Now in each of these countries there is much hard work yet to be done to right the ship, but no one can deny the courage, unity and determination of the people. As an American, I'm envious of their united effort, as an Arab, I am quite proud.
  One of the more intriguing elements in each of these is the role Facebook and Twitter has played in organizing massive demonstrations. In fact, some were calling them Facebook and Twitter revolutions. Literally hundreds of thousands of people in Arab countries organized via Facebook and brought dictators down.
  And so, I wondered, could Americans find the common beliefs among them and coordinate government protests on such a massive scale that literally could change our country's history forever? Could we have our own Facebook or Twitter revolution? Hmmm...
  Now I'm not talking about complete government overhaul, like in these countries. I'm just looking to get corporations and special interests out of our government and put some term limits in place to get rid of these career politicians. I figure a couple of amendments to our constitution would do it. The U.S., even with our difficulties, is still the land of opportunity and is still a great country, but we do have some work to do to eliminate corporate and special interests influence on our government. If done, these changes would have dramatically positive effects on our government's ability to govern with the will of Americans in mind. 
As I thought about the possibility of a Facebook revolution in the U.S., I became a little skeptical. Americans seem a little more distracted than our friends in Tunisia or Egypt, for example. We play Farmville, they farm. We play Mafia Wars, they survive wars. When I think about how things got rolling in Egypt, I'm pretty sure you didn't see a post like this:

"That's it! Mubarak has poked us for the very last time! We must take to the streets, call all of your friends in from Mafia Wars!! This will be no pillow fight!! It's time!!"

Or a post like this:

"Mubarak has abused Egypt. He has used our government dollars as a personal piggy bank, he has run our country into the ground. He is a brutal dictator with no conscience. I think it is time to make our voices heard. If you agree that our voices should be heard and we should remove this evil dictator please re-post. I realize that there are only a few of my friends that are true lovers of Egypt and WILL re-post this. 97% of you will not, but I know who the true Egyptians are."

We seem to like to express our revolution in a much more passive way (to be nice). Our type of revolution has really boiled down to venting on the Internet and blaming the guy next door, or the guy of a different religion, or the guy with no money, or the guy with a lot of money, or the Mexican guy, or the black guy, or the white guy, or the now very popular Arab guy for our troubles.
Maybe we should spend a little more time focusing on our name "The UNITED States of America". Hello!!! United?? Our friends in the political parties have us convinced that the enemy lives next door or just down the street. We've also been convinced that there is but one fate for this enemy and that is defeat. Well, I'm sorry, I don't believe in that kind of America. I believe that the enemy is not down the street. Down the street, I have friends that have different perspectives. For me, that's okay.
What's interesting is that this is exactly how we see each other when catastrophic events occur. When Americans are dealing with devastation from hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and other catastrophic events, we don't care if you're a Tea partier, a donkey or an elephant or simply a partier, we all work together. It's a shame that it requires tragedy for us to act as one. It seems like we should be better than this. 
I guess there is one good thing about a dictator. Given that there has only been one guy in charge for a long time, it is easier for the majority of people to coalesce with common ideas in mind, even if they are limited to getting that pig out of office. And it's much harder to get people passionate about amendments.
Now I realize that many of us will still dwell in Cafe World, but I remain hopeful that someday Americans will be United as Americans for the common good of the people. Until then, thank you for allowing me to share a few Words with Friends.

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