In Egypt, it seemed, at first, that the thousands who finally decided that they have had enough, were brought to their senses and onto their feet by Facebook and Twitter.
Oppressed, humiliated, tortured, spied on, forgotten; the ordinary Egyptian has no future to look forward to, no better life ahead, and only a vague sense that his individual life matters.
Over there, in the Middle East, Americans can see that a very small slice of the elite own everything, and that the vast majority of people cannot earn enough to even buy bread.
And, as Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.”
We Americans have been living in fiction here too. For thirty or more years, it has been normal for every single industrialized section of the nation to close down. Abandoned, emptied, unused: these are the very engines of the economy that are no more.
So we took flight into frivolity: speculating in houses, throwing money into stocks, dancing on credit card debt. We celebrated our “post-industrial” lifestyle. Bad art and self-indulgent decadence occupied factories that once produced good machines and solid income.
And we imagined that the world was somehow being remade under a new virtual lodestar, hung in the Silicon Valley sky, guiding the world’s peoples into a smart, technical, open, free and intelligent self-rule and entrepreneurial cornucopia.
While Apple may introduce a new product every six months, human behavior only changes every million years. These are the eternal conditions of this planet: power, exploitation, greed, oppression, hunger, violence, war.
So the people of Egypt are marching and screaming, tearing down their government and demanding some justice.
And so the American people are robbed by private corporations and must live in a crumbling land where good jobs have gone away and only texting and the internet suffice as community.
If only six hundred people in Los Angeles protested for single-payer, public option health insurance, by standing on the 405 Freeway under the Wilshire Avenue Bridge, the news media would take notice, the government would react and conditions in real life might change.
I ask you:
Which country is poorer: Egypt or America?
The country with the most citizens willing to fight for a new and better day is the richer one.
Let the word go forth to a new generation:
Ask not what your government will do for you, but what you are willing to do for your country.
We must stand on the freeway. And it is not too late to act.