The Arab Spring is the 21st Century’s defining moment thus far. Not even Sept. 11 will have as much of a global impact as the revolutions blanketing the Sahara.
Thousands of protestors have died at the hands of unrelenting leaders. Dozens of governments are struggling to hold on against their citizenry. Imagine if 10 million people flooded Washington, D.C., demanding an updated constitution and not leaving until top officials resign.
The revolution bug is spreading pollen all over Europe, Africa and Asia. However, the winds of change have remained isolated on the other side of the Atlantic. But why?
Let’s rewind two years.
Newly inaugurated President Obama addressed the Muslim world at Cairo University in 2009. He promoted democracy from within and less than two years later, the leader of that nation was ousted by the populace.
His exact words were: “I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country—you, more than anyone, have the ability to remake this world.”
Months prior, Americans heard the word “change” and expected the Chosen One to provide it, but the Arab world digested the words literally and took change into their own hands.
Groups of educated youth hit the streets in an effort to change society. They used Twitter and Facebook to organize and spread messages to the world. Though the government tried to shut off the Internet, information was too resilient. The Internet’s coming-of-age party is officially underway.
Social media sites—created in the United States—coupled with an historic speech by the president of the United States stirred an entire region to revolt. Yet the citizens of America, where these ideas and technologies emerged, remain unmotivated. So, what’s the difference between the Arab nations and ours? Sadly, unwavering apathy.
The income distribution is wider than it’s ever been. Indebted students are realizing the insignificance of education if employers refuse to hire. Corporations are pulling in record profits at the expense of lower-paid workers and a stagnant unemployment base. Even Warren Buffet has expressed disgust at how the tax system rewards him for amassing billions.
Florida’s governor has the lowest approval rating of any in the nation. Few would deem his policies “youth-friendly.” Suicide rates among troops are at their highest. The planet is melting. Throw in over 75 years of constant military struggle and the youth have more than enough reason to desire reformation.
Yet, students are distracted by reality television, drunken themed-parties, and frivolous shopping sprees. We’re a generation obsessed with glowing screens, mediated to be unconsciously passive, waiting for the world to change instead of doing it ourselves. Consumerism has succeeded in rendering our generation disenchanted.
Whether voting at the ballot box or with hard-earned cash, our “voice” is a muffled cry compared to activism that once bettered our nation.
The U.S. boasts the oldest, unchanged government in the world, but the worn engine is stalling. Lawmakers have spent two centuries maneuvering the political structure into a jumbled mess of stagnation. At some point, an inevitable tune-up must take place.
Though often stuck in a star-spangled daze, we’re a more mindful generation than any before us. And with every great transformation, the youth are bestowed the power and creativity to remake the world.
So if not our generation, whose?
The Internet infrastructure is there, but enthusiasm and initiation are currently lacking. However, if anyone wants to load a charter bus and head to D.C. with a pit stop at the governor’s mansion to invest in the democratic process and give ancient America a youthful burst of energy, we’ll provide the journalists.