Is there an “American Spring” around the corner?

You have to admit my blog is aptly named.  Each day brings new evidence that we are living through a speeded-up period of rapid change.

Was it only a few short months ago that we were stuck in the August doldrums of Congressional gridlock, in which the Republicans seemed to have a total stranglehold on the nation’s very lifeblood, our Treasury?

Was it only a few short weeks ago that the first Occupy Wall Street protesters arrived on the scene, the vanguard of what has now become an international political movement that just might have the power to challenge the two-party American oligarchy?

The deep distrust and disappointment Americans feel in our government is represented in a new NY Times/CBS News poll published tonight.

Get this: only 9% of those polled approve of the way Congress is doing its job.

Only 10% say they trust the American government to do what’s right for its people.

 These are dreadful numbers, especially when compared with the 46% of those polled who said they believe the views of the Occupy Wall Street protesters reflect the views of most Americans.

The urgent question becomes, will this dissatisfaction with our government and strong identification with the protest movement lead to actual sociopolitical change?

In one of my classes we are reading Allan G. Johnson’s book Privilege, Power & Difference, which seeks to understand why those with social privilege so rarely lend their support to any movement that might upset the status quo, even when they profess to be sympathetic with the goals of social equality.

Johnson says that all of us, but especially the privileged, tend to follow the path of least resistance.  Our society is set up in such a way that the paths of least resistance all favor the privileged, making it very hard for anyone to rock the boat.

But, he says, if we are aware of the ills of social inequality and do nothing about it, we will become “like the person who loses the ability to feel pain and risks bleeding to death from a thousand tiny cuts that go unnoticed, untreated and unhealed” (124).

I think that many of us privileged folks have indeed become numb to the harsh realities of our social system, which we have come to accept as natural, like the weather or the usual background noise of civilization.

That this callousness is wounding in ways we are hardly aware of is less obvious, but it comes out in the deep malaise of privileged American society: our tendency to depression, self-destructive behaviors, and underlying rage.

We are living through a moment in time when it is just possible that the privileged will wake up and decide that enough is enough.  That is the hope and the lure of the 99% movement.

There are a lot of privileged people in that 99%: educated, wealthy people, who have a lot to gain, in material terms, by not rocking the boat–but who, it seems, are doing some real soul-searching right now about taking the right path, instead of the path of least resistance.

Think about it: only 10% of Americans think Congress is doing a good job.  If that isn’t a mandate for change, I don’t know what would be.

Everything is speeded up these days.  Even last night’s solar storm, which caused spectacular aurora borealis displays all over North America, apparently hit Earth eight hours faster than predicted, and spread out much further over the U.S. than usual–visible all the way down in the Deep South.

Could it be that we will have our own “American Spring” in 2012?

WHY NOT???

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2 Comments

  1. Government are not easy to trust these days

    Reply
  2. I just pondered the same thing at my blog. I am not as eloquently spoken as you, but I think we share the excitement that 2012 may bring.

    Reply

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