© 2011 John Casimir O'Keefe

Could it be us? Should it be us?

I have been struggling with all that has been happening in Northern Africa.  People taking to the streets to over through a government they believe is overbearing, controlling and wrong.  People of all ages, economic background and faith traditions, coming together to bring a voice of change where they believe change needs to take place.  What I have been struggling with is not what is happening, because I see the need for the change.  What I am struggling with is the idea that “Could it be us?” or even more, “Should it be us?”

So, could, or should, we as a people take it to the streets?  We have a government that seems to care more about the needs of the corporation, and their own self interests, then the needs of the people.   Some believe that if we care for the corporations, they will care for their employees and in turn the society as a whole.  But we have seen that dog and pony show before, and we know there is very little truth in that reality.  When the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, corporations coming to the defense of needed social change is never going to happen.  Still others will say that if we do not like the government we have, vote for change.  But I am not sure there is any truth in that argument either.  The problem is, we do just that, we hear all the calls for change from our politicians as they strive to get our vote and nothing ever really changes.  Corporations, lawyers and bureaucrats still run things and the “regular” people are left holding the bag.  A bag that is getting bigger and heavier each and every day; a bag that is filled with the greed and desires of people in power; a bag that smells with the corruption of people who care more about their gain, then the people they take it from.  So, could it be us?  Should it be us?

No matter what my High School government teacher told me, I have lived long enough to realize that voting changes nothing.  Sure, we can point to times in our history where the government stepped up to the plate and took action, like the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s, but we have to realize that those times were always followed by civil action; people taking it to the streets.  A time when the people stood up, and with a powerful collective voice, said, “Make this change.”  Without a loud voice, change never happens.  If you think about it, we have a system where people spend millions to receive a position where they receive a salary of thousands, why?  There must be something we are not seeing.  Why would anyone do something so crazy?  Could it be power?  Could it be greet?  Could it be control?  When I hear Politian claiming they are doing what they do for the people they serve, I wonder if there is something in what they say we should believe.  We have a system where people living just above the poverty level pay a greater portion of their income in taxes then the richest of us – because of tax breaks and loopholes.  We have a system that benefits the corporation and not the person.

As I look at what is happening in Wisconsin the question of “Could it be us?” seems so very real.  Are we planting more seeds to our own end?  Bu then I came to a realization that it will not happen to us, any time soon, because of who we are.  As a society, we care more about ourselves then we care about others.  We do not care if a family is homeless or hungry as long as they do not increase our taxes.  We are held hostage by companies that say “If you raise our taxes we will need to move operations overseas to cut our costs and tax liabilities.”  The wealthiest of us hang with our political friends to insure our millions, or billions, will not be affected by laws that hurt the average American.  As a group, we do not care if others have not, as long as we have.

As I listen to the rhetoric coming from the Governor of Wisconsin concerning Unions I question his understanding of the world we live.  He claims that Unions are unfair because they have the backing of Government and law; but he never mentions the backing of the Government has for corporations.  The more and more he speaks, I wonder if it could, or should, be us?

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