I make no secret of being a bleeding heart liberal, so I’m going to do a little more bleeding here.
Recently, the New York Times had two eye-opening articles (well, they constantly have eye-opening articles). One was “Iranians Celebrate Agreement Online and in the Streets” and “For Eager Cubans, Big Opening in U.S. Relations Is More Like a Crack“. In the first, it showed pictures of Iranians partying in the streets of Tehran, singing, dancing, honking horns. They tweeted their appreciation for their Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. They are hopeful. In the second article, Cubans were still optimistic about a thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, but they still had not seen much in terms of results. Supplies were still hard to find, and international businesses are still being cautious about investing in their country. But they are still hopeful.
And yet, apart from news articles, I don’t see much elation here. Maybe elation would be too much to expect, but what about some general concern? Why don’t we care?
We’re still pretty good at protesting, as seen lately with Indiana’s RFRA controversy, or the Black Lives Matter movement. But what do we celebrate, together? Sure, we celebrate in the streets when Wisconsin wins an NCAA basketball game, and riot destructively when Kentucky loses the same game. But beyond sports, what do we really care about?
Our policies have real life implications for millions around the globe, and yet it seems we don’t care. And why don’t we care? Because we have the luxury not to. Our survival, our livelihoods are seldom meddled with by other countries. We don’t have to feel the strain of living under embargoes, like the Cubans or Iranians. Maybe we should celebrate for their sakes, if not ours.
At times, equally troubling is the lack of interest in our own internal policies and how they affect us. Someone said to me recently, “I think it’s awful that the government is sending jobs overseas.” Naturally, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. “Um, actually it’s corporations that send jobs overseas, not the government. Why would the government want to do that?” I can well believe that some people might take her initial statement further, and say that it’s the government’s fault that corporations send jobs overseas, because of regulations and taxes. But I don’t buy that argument. I think it’s rampant, unbridled corporate greed. Still, in this case it was easy to see how things like this get twisted in people’s minds, and how much damage that does.
I worry about an ignorant electorate. I worry that people don’t care enough to do some research into their representatives and vote in their best interest and hopefully, in the best interest of the public good.
With security comes complacency. And even our security is at risk – in terms of environmental degradation, the disappearing middle class, and the rise of the One Percenters. It may seem like a gradual change, and maybe I read too many dystopian novels, but when the devastation adds up, we won’t be prepared.
Maybe we should celebrate with the Iranians and the Cubans while we still can.