When I was in college we protested. A lot. We protest the start of wars, we protested speakers on campus who we disagreed with, genocide, social injustice, and in one instance, we protested not being allowed to keep a grocery cart we had somehow procured, decorated and stored on the first floor of our dorm. These protests took time, we made signs, we spoke to others about our cause, we started clubs to stand up for these issues. We were deeply passionate, convinced we could change the world.
Somewhere along the way, the protests stopped. It wasn’t that over night we began to agree with everything going on in our society, it was just that we got busy with life. We stopped feeling effective. We became apathetic. To quote John Mayer, we were waiting on the world to change:
Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it.
Last night I attended Kabbalat Shabbat [Friday evening] Services at the site of one of thetent protests in Israel. This protest involves demonstrations, rallies, and people sleeping outside in tents in parks as a peaceful protest of the cost of housing. These protests are peaceful, but demand change, as Amos Oz stated in Ha’aretz:
The heart of this protest is the affront and outrage over the government’s indifference to the people’s suffering, the double standard against the working population and the destruction of social solidarity.” Mr. Oz added that “the first thing these demonstrators are saying, even before ‘social justice’ and ‘down with the government,’ is: ‘we are brethren.’ ”
I do not know enough about Israeli politics to have an opnion on these protests, but as I sat underneath a tent, with the slight Jerusalem breeze around me, quietly meditating and praying I could not help [ethnocentrically I suppose] thinking about my country. My country where boldly claim that the people have a voice, that we have the power to change and shape the country. Is the change we want this partisan split? When did we become so divided that we cannot pick leaders who can work together, and why do we elect leaders who can’t leave their partisan baggage at the door? This week we lost our AAA credit rating for the first time in the history of our nation, subsidized graduate student loans are being eliminated .
Now, this is not do say I disagree that Pell Grants are more important [they are more important], and hey, maybe I am over educated, but, when did our country get to this point? And, more importantly, why didn’t we the people stop it?
Is this a matter of apathy, being frustrated, or truly being powerless? How did the country get to this point, and what will it take for people to be able to sit at the table, stop pointing fingers, and compromise (and not at the last possible moment).