America's Revolution

The US presidential elections may finally spark the American revolution the rest of the world has been waiting for.
America's Revolution

I was 19 years old when I awoke on September 11, 2001, to the defining event of our era. Huddled with others around a screen, I watched live television broadcast images of planes flying into the World Trade Center. The mood of life – its color and tone – changed in an instant.

The importance of my school receded to the background; it was clear that the world had bigger questions to resolve. A month later, I watched the American invasion of Afghanistan on CNN. While the consensus in America seemed firmly behind military retribution, I met many people who expressed deep dissatisfaction with the invasion and realized that 9/11 was a tremendous opening that called humanity’s collective future into question. I didn’t know whether or not we should have invaded Afghanistan, or even who the Taliban were. In fact, like most young people at that time, I was blissfully ignorant of the world outside America. But I knew that life after 9/11 was rushing toward a conclusion that no one, young or old, could fully foresee. Nothing could be more exciting for the youthful spirit than to feel that the future was open to discussion, and I resolved to start an anti-war student organization. With this decision, I unknowingly joined a nation-wide movement that was building momentum toward a revolutionary moment.

We founded an organization at Swarthmore College called Why War? and adopted the motto “Question the war.” Our position was simple: 9/11 blindsided us, and we need time to reflect before we’ll know the proper response. However, when it became clear that we had to fight to have our voices heard, we turned to protest.

I remember the mood in 2003 when 38 million people worldwide gathered to voice their opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq. On the streets of New York, we felt that we had finally accomplished an organizational feat capable of altering the future. I watched as my friends broke through barricades, and I refused to move as police horses charged a blocked street, nearly trampling my head. The revolutionary momentum was at a peak – it felt like anything was possible, and that a new world was truly within our grasp. How could the world leaders stand against us when we were able to organize and synchronize protests on every continent in the world?

But our movement didn’t stop America from invading Iraq. The much-heralded “Day X,” a day of civil disobedience that was supposed to sweep the nation, fizzled out without noticeable achievements. Our failure to prevent the Iraq war dealt a blow to our confidence and our momentum dissipated.

Although the Bush administration was able to stem the tide briefly, it did nothing to weaken our vision – merely driving us underground and making our present resurgence more powerful. And in place of the naïve hopes of yesterday are the mature demands of today – voiced in whispers in our hopeful hearts, a dangerous conspiracy to outlast the regime, to maintain our youthful exuberance but temper it with wise consideration. We’ve seen enough in the seven long years since 9/11 to know that we were right to question the war and to trust that, inevitably, we can change the future.

Our momentum is growing. Bush is done, consumerism is collapsing and the patricians are dancing for plebeian votes. On the horizon appear presidential candidates who claim to be the source of our strength, but who are merely the symptom of the revolutionary thrust picking up again in America. We’re optimistic for the future and willing to be inspired, but too skeptical to respond to the rhetoric of “Hope” and “Change” with our whole hearts. So we let them do the work of encouraging demands for change, knowing full well that we will carry their promises further than they intend. What we hear is not what they’re saying. What we’ll accomplish is not what they envision. By playing for our votes, the establishment only helps us see the questions that are off limits and the positions that are deemed impossible.

In martial arts classes, timid students are taught to put their fists through solid wood by punching through the barrier. The target is not the wood, but the space behind the wood. Likewise, in revolutions, momentum is not meant to stop on a specific day, but to carry through to the other side. The barrier is the limitations of what has been declared possible. We’ll overcome it by imagining, demanding and achieving the impossible. In the weeks and months ahead, we will see America’s revolutionary momentum build and, with wise youthfulness and experienced imagination, we will learn to pierce the mental barrier that stands between the tired allegiance to this world and a passionate building of the next. Our target is not the election, but a time beyond the election, when our mental preparation will combine with our political momentum in a revolutionary moment that ushers in a storm of change.

_Micah M. White is a Bingington, New York-based writer and activist, who is currently pursuing a PhD in Media and Communications at the European Graduate School.

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150 comments on the article “America's Revolution”

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Redking

Its hard to start conversations in public places now since people always have earphones in their ears. Instead, people are dating online because when people go out now, they're not really in the moment, but instead grasping onto their phones awaiting those precious texts... very strange if you ask me.

sloflo

The shit about being a technoslave is A. its all around you - do you not have a small urge to look at your phone when someone else is on theirs? B. Its' the norm, as some others have said you CAN be excluded from your friends and family if they cannot contact you via email or facebook. C. Interacting in person is out of stylenow i wish this was different but it started long before computers and blackberry's. I remember when I was a child I would sit on the home phone for hours with friends who lived a few blocks away. To repersonalize ourselves we need to get comfortable seeing eachother in a new light...ie sunlight! D. Its easy and convenient, email or msg someone and your done, no dialing, no waiting, no unwanted lengthy convo's, no awkward silence/goodbye, no need to be human we got emoticons for that!
I have conflicting views about being a technoslave. I love being able to jump online and catch up with friends/family acorss the country, I love being able to share pics in one click, I love all the info at my fingetips! However the price were paying may be too large for the things i love. My biggest compliant is technoisolation. These advances are tools not LIFESTYLES.

Paige

I don't have a phone. I have email and use skype, which are free and nonpolluting. I had a cell phone for about eight months and felt like I was on a leash. They are certainly convenient, you don't have to make definite plans anymore. The thing is, I don't mind making definite plans, my freedom is worth that small sacrifice of time and energy. But most people love their cell phones, which is fine, as long as I don't have to have one. One request, though: Please don't get irritated with people who don't want cell phones! Just make definite plans with them, it's not that hard. I hate it when people expect me to rush out and buy an expensive, unnecessary luxury item that causes brain tumors and very toxic garbage, just for a tiny bit of convenience.

S. Wolf

I keep thinking I should write a book titled SLAVES TO CONVENIENCE but this piece sort of beat me to it. I'm not sure what's sadder. That people are turning into mindless drones unable to do anything for themselves and trusting inherently unreliable technologies to do it for them, or that they've allowed themselves to become utterly addicted to gadgets which they'd probably never even heard of 15 years ago and yet now claim they can't live without. Note the Crackberry breakdown some months ago and companies panicking and individuals going into withdrawal because it didn't occur to these idiots to just go over to a pay phone and call in that way. And when the breakdown was over, had they learned anything from it? Nope, right back to using those undependable contraptions. Me? No cell just a 'real' phone, no Crackberry, no iPod, no ... I do have computers it's my job but no portables. Just desktops which stay at work or at home. When I leave the house, I'm happily free of such electronic leashes. it's quite liberating. If people need to get hold of me, they just call again later. If it's an 'emergency', that's what 911 is for.

Cooke Monster

Yes we have become enslaved in this technoligical era but what is more disturbing is the effects it has on our choices of communication. Nowadays, one would rather suffice to email or a text message to apoligize for something. People are using technology as a wall to hide behind. Personally I believe a face heart to heart face to face apology speaks volumes more about your sincerity compared to a 5 second text using a cell phone.

Michael

I admit that I use the internet on a daily basis for email, banking, entertainment and research, but I hardly believe that Im addicted in any serious way. The ability to access a vast amount of information at a moments notice is absolutely astounding and wonderful, and I do understand that to some degree it has created latent consequences that are both positive and negative, but it must be understood that our postindustrialnes s will force us into a new forum. The printed word, the radio , the television, the internet and wireless communication systems are obvious and natural technological evolutions and the ramifications of realization only has to look upon the multiplying dimensions that each has brought to our lives, namely commoditization industry. In my opinion, the culture of lifestyle consumption has ever so gradually coopted a forum that served to connect and inform the masses. The only difference the internet advertisements have over television is the speed, amount and accuracy that it targets its market.

hymae 99

I wonder. I've contemplated going a week without any technology, from cell phones to tv to video games, in an attempt to essentially 'detox' my mind of all the influence the media seems to have on me. But i found myself justifying the significance and importance of music. I wanted to keep my laptop, but only for music. shut down my wireless router, and unplug the boob tube. But, and this is a serious question i hope someone responds to, is my love of music among the things this author is talking about? Is music and i mean good, independent, free thinking music another form of control over me, something to worry about?

flock of birds

The previous comments strike me as a case in point of how internet technology can provide a forum of thoughtful communication. There may be one more step involved in terms of communicating face to face that we can write about doing this but it can be more of a challenge to practice it or to ask others to do the same while they are interrupting the conversation to answer their cells. It seems that techno addiction is to be added to the constellation of other modern illnesses, especially those that make a profit for someone. These someones seem to have discovered that one leads to another: addiction to visual media helps to create a mindset for addiction to whatever Pharma's latest pill is. It is all based on externals anything to get us away from our inner selves, because that would mean that we might apply some critical thinking about what is really going on around us, as some of the above comments have mentioned. We tend to go to extremes when there is no center. I walked out into my yard and realized that this year there is no hum of bees in the new blooms. I find this disturbing. What can be done?

delta sleep

if you're going to slap down a list of potentially serious maladies caused by technology, you at least owe us the dignity of a citation for those claims.

Anita

sorry guys, music is the answer, so im hooked proudly. dont have a cell phone, no use, ill never hear the thing.

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