The “American” Spring
Remember the “Egyptian Spring?” From Tunisia to Cairo to Libya to Lebanon. Millions were alerted to “something” in the air about which they cared, desperately. Their own countries’ welfares were declining, due in large part to dynasties of leaders who scraped off the cream of the nations involved, leaving little or nothing for the average man on the street. The “men the street” had had enough. Using social media, opinions were exchanged, plans laid, rebellions smoldered.
2015 is, we believe, the “American Spring.” And not a moment too soon.
At long last, after more than one hundred years, citizens of the USA are worried, and are no longer afraid to talk about it out loud.
Happily, we haven’t had a history of military might ruling the country. True enough, the military has had an outsized presence in our recent lives, as we’ve struggled in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Iran and Syria, in series of a face-offs (so far only that) with China.
But what most intelligent citizens have discovered is that there truly are two levels of life in our country, and that this is not healthy. As we watched this past Wednesday night a peaceful march through the streets of Baltimore, the heartening sensation we received was that the marchers were, in the main, largely white.
To those throughout the country who had been, and may still be, blaming blacks on the loose – blacks without jobs, blacks with nothing to lose – for the flames at a local CVS, for police cars ablaze, for flying bricks and bottles – this quiet cortege of concerned citizens should have come as a bolt from the blue. Wait a minute, they might say. How can those people agree with “them”?
They can, and they do, because veils have been lifted.
Throughout the nation’s press, polls have been shown that indicate that perhaps 80 per cent of the population feels insulated from police brutality, from police attitudes and practices. Not surprisingly, the remaining 20 per cent – largely people of color- feel differently.
With the assistance of the press, who seem to have been waiting breathlessly for this one single moment to act, we have reached the ultimate “teaching moment” when all of America can see (1) how tough a policeman’s lot is and (2) how miserable are the lives in the cities they are charged with keeping safe.
More, conversations are finally underway between husband and wife, between business colleagues, between students and teachers, between the rest of us and the government.
If it’s taken us seventy years to realize that the US is no less corrupt than any other country, it has taken us more than twice that time to admit to ourselves that people of color lead lives that are often brutal, short, truncated not only by lawmen, but by they themselves.
We may no longer have a failure to communicate. For many, communication is more than they want. But there’s no getting around it: between children and parents, between the rich and poor, between the quote majority and the quote minority, people are exchanging words, visions, retailing stories of the past that heretofore had been held, if considered at all, as apocriphal.
There are some, probably many,people who look away and refuse to see what is on their screen. Re fuse to listen to the stories and accidents of fate. But more than all the other monthly horror stories of people dying in custody of the police, or shot in the back while running away from the police, or simply being arrested without cause, the totally nonsensicle death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore is the most egregious example of how deeply ingrained racist attitudes in this country are.
It’s taken us more than thirty years to understand what Governor Kerner’s report about two Americas actually means.
We can only hope that this new understanding will bring change for the better, for both the quote majority and the quote minority.