It’s funny, I thought we were actually winning this war. The tragedy of 9/11 is now over ten years in our memory. Osama bin Laden is dead. The leadership of Al Qaeda has been virtually decimated now working at only a fraction of its former operational capacity. The global call to radical takfiri jihadism is quickly being silenced amid the voices of freedom and open society emanating from the Arab Spring. The occupation of Iraq has finally ended and the conflict in Afghanistan is showing realistic signs of progress amid the beginnings of a massive drawdown of forces. Our economy, while hit with tough times is still among the strongest and most dynamic in the world. Our society, while struggling with the challenges and problems of the day remains no less vibrant and open than ever. And in the White House, we have the first black President in the history of our nation, a man who shortly after taking office received the Nobel Peace Prize for his message of change, unity, and calls for restoring America to the forefront of a greater global society…so what the fuck happened???
When our grandchildren one day read in their history books about the fall of American democracy, they will likely be shocked at the ease in which it was dissolved and, should they enjoy the pleasure of living in a truly free society built by our hands, the great difficulty, pain, and sacrifice which was required to restore it. Over ten years after the horror of 9/11, ten years without a major terrorist attack on American soil, ten years of our blood, sweat, and tears being expended in foreign lands and in the quest for homeland defense, and ten years of our civil society put on hold as our national treasure is expended for the cause of our great military-industrial establishment it appears we are continually slipping in the wrong direction. The indefinite military detention provision hidden within the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act can be taken as nothing less than a travesty upon the rule of law and the values our nation has espoused since its founding amid our first great struggle against tyranny. As we make plans to drawdown our military forces throughout the world, this law leads us to nothing less than an expansion of the war onto American soil as the next battlefield of our war on terror. Borrowing from bin Laden’s rhetoric, we are finally beginning to engage both the near and far enemy. At the same time, the new Stop Online Piracy Act directly threatens the freedom of thought and information we enjoy through the internet by allowing the government to effectively block and shut down internet domains without any judicial process or review whatsoever. While the right to intellectual property must be upheld within our modern society, it is a discussion that must be taken on by our community as a whole and not a decision to be given directly to our law enforcement agencies. Together, these two laws account for one of the greatest expansions of executive powers since at least the Patriot Act and probably the entire great history of our nation.
And on the other side, there is unrest in our cities, turmoil in our streets, and calls for revolution echoing the cries of our Arab brothers and sisters in the air. We still run a tremendous fiscal deficit. Almost half of our population classifies as low income. Our jobs are being taken by international corporations and by the development of new technologies meant to better the wealth and prosperity of mankind. Our income levels are growing ever more stratified as the gap between rich and poor steadily widens while the prospects for achieving the American self-made dream grow dimmer and dimmer with each passing year. And as a result our power is concentrated among a few. Our democracy is held captive to lobbying, special interest, and campaign contributors. We have the world’s largest prison population, the highest rate of violent crime, and hold more personal firearms than any society in the history of mankind. Our dream of true freedom is constantly being crushed by the realities of our situation. The writing is on the wall, my friends, our society is breaking at the seams and should we continue down the present path we are in for truly rough times ahead. The instruments of control and resistance are already being developed and employed, and with the potential breaking of our community along factional lines I am afraid that no option if off the table…
And yet there is no reason for things to be like this. There is a middle path between the extremes of greater control and factional resistance. The great power of our technology allows us to share our ideas and spread our message like never before. Our sense of civic duty and real citizenship is never stronger than in times of real crisis and chaos. Our society, at least in this time, remains free and open to new ideas and perspectives. And our sense of collective purpose could never be stronger to develop and create the changes we need to make in our world and to secure a greater and more prosperous community for our children.
But where are our great public intellectuals? Where is the public discourse we need desperately in this time to rethink and rebuild the realities of our society? When did America cease to become a fountain of modern progressive intellectual discussion and debate? And how do we create a new world when we can’t even hear the voices and ideas of what it might look like?
Where are our true educators? The halls of academia have long been the home of great American learning and knowledge, but where are the new ideas? Why do we continue to educate our youth for the purpose of finding jobs in a society where they are fast growing obsolete? Why do we not teach them to actively question, to seek reality backed up by real evidence, and to understand the ways in which all our disciplines, skills, and talents interact and play a role in the evolution of our society? Why do we never question the true costs of American power within our classrooms? Why are we so paranoid about teaching our youth the narrow realities of our day that we neglect to give them the tools necessary to conduct their own research, develop their own understandings, and create their own realities for tomorrow?
Where are our true engineers? Surely, amid the immense growth of the microchip we have not reached the epoch of human technological achievement. Where are the new technologies that hold the promises of saving our society from so much extraneous toil and how do we implement them for the true betterment of mankind? How many problems can we truly solve though simple adaptation of technological principles and methods? And how do we use our human technological achievements to develop real sustainable solutions for preserving the scarce resources of our Earth for our people rather than the scarce resources of profit for our shareholders?
Where are our scientists? Surely at this level of society we are still far from decoding every single natural law governing our universe. Our understanding of the subatomic particle and the true nature of sustainable energy within our universe is still elementary at best? How can we develop and apply our new discoveries to change our paradigms and the current understanding of the reality of human experience in the context of the ecosystem and the universe? How can we apply the laws of science to develop more natural and more sustainable human laws for the betterment of not just a lucky few but the entirety of mankind? And how do we remove ourselves from the need to market a product and return to the need to simply develop the basic collective knowledge of our species?
Where our economists and businessmen? Why do we spend so much time trying to understand the natural phenomenon within the current economic system instead of seeking ways to improve upon it for the collective good of our society? Surely the monetary free market system is not the ultimate economic reality for all of mankind and our grandchildren will likely laugh at us when we eventually try to explain to them the old economic paradigms of our youth. Yet how do we take our current system and turn it into the greatest asset for greater global change? How do we work with the current economic powers of our day in creating a future where all can enjoy the fruits of human economic prosperity? And how do we preserve the necessity of incentive while removing the necessities of power, market control, and profit?
Where are our true journalists? Why have we allowed our free society to be hijacked by the narrow interests of publicly traded mass-media establishments? Why does allowing two people barking the official party lines of the left and right now count as “balanced” reporting as if there were only two sides to every single human reality of our time? Why has real, investigative and insightful journalism fallen victim to the corporate interests of simply holding people’s attention long enough for them to view the next commercial? Where are our mainstream voices of dissent, a vital part of any free society, and why have they been so silenced by the fall of a truly free media establishment?
Where are our true statesmen? Since when has public service become a good “career move”? How do we break free from party and organizational politics and raise the tough issues and debates our society so desperately needs? Why do we preach freedom and democracy among other peoples while slowly taking it away here at home? How do we reconcile the polar opposites of limited constitutional democracy with the status of a world Superpower as we preach governmental restraint on one hand while we project power and influence on the other? How do we restore the dream of true American freedom to our own people while becoming a role model for our sister societies across our world?
Where are our religious intellectuals? How do we bring together the old dogmas and beliefs of our past while making them coherent with modernity and human progress? How do we move beyond Evangelicalism, Zionism, and Islamism focusing on the differences between our faiths and bring forward a new faith in humanism and the enlightened collective progress of mankind serving under God whatever his name may be? How do we turn religion from a tool of political mobilization by crafty zealots and politicians into a means of political liberation from the narrow-minded false constraints of our time?
Where are our forward thinking soldiers? How do we bring together the need for security in a complex and dangerous world with the necessity of building a free and open society? How do we reduce our reliance on a military-industrial-political complex without sacrificing the safety of the people we are sworn to protect? How do we restore a sense of greater intellectualism to our military where once again we have the true courage to question the paradigms of our day without sacrificing our duty to follow orders? How do we escape our fearful sense of careerism and learn to focus our expertise on the great security dilemmas of our time? And how will do we revolutionize our profession when the thought of speaking truth to authority is such a scary proposition?
Ultimately, the next great American Revolution will not be predictable in any way, but will follow the great constraints of time, circumstance, and coincidence. It will likely not happen all at once but take place slowly over the years and possibly decades of our lifetimes. Many of us will not even notice what is going on, consumed in our own self-imposed intellectual prison of popular culture, entertainment, sporting events, and political campaigns which closely resemble the same, until it has finally reached critical mass and the point of no return. It will likely not result in the fall or crumbling of our current governments however that is by no means beyond the realm of our possibilities. Over time, new ideas will be spread, new paradigms established, and the dreams of a truly sustainable prosperity will enter permanently into the public debate. Despite the harsh writing on the wall, while the American Revolution will surely be a messy one, it need not being a bloody one. Yet in order to achieve this peaceful transformation, we first need an American Renaissance. Think free, my friends. Question all authority. Seek truth through real evidence and always check your sources. And never be afraid of being wrong; just have the willingness to accept and acknowledge the missteps of your past. May God be with us on this journey, although not even He can walk this path for us or even lead us along the proper course. That is ultimately up us alone and the better angels of our hearts. Peace be upon you all in this Holiday Season.
26 DEC 2011, 2050 AST, Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan