Current events unfolding around the globe portend a world in tremendous upheaval. The ongoing struggles to remove autocratic regimes in the Arab world, popularly known as the Arab Spring, are bringing hope of freedom and democracy to – until recently – unimaginable places like Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Libya.
In Europe, the economic crisis within the European Union has led to outbreaks of social unrest in Spain, England, Ireland, and Greece. We are told by European leaders and financial experts that a major economic collapse looms.
And now, finally, we are seeing American citizens take to the streets in protests against corporate greed, government corruption, unending wars, unsustainable energy policies, the rising disparity in income between the working class and the rich, unemployment, and unaffordable health care.
The United States has a long history of protest marches for causes of social justice. From the Women’s Suffrage movement to the Civil Rights marches and anti-Vietnam War protests, when government fails to heed the will of the people, we have exercised our constitutional right to assembly and free speech. The largest national protest gaining popularity is the Occupy Wall Street movement that is drawing attention to the banks and financial institutions that were deemed “too big to fail” and were bailed out at taxpayer’s expense. Every major city in America is experiencing some form of street protests or rallies. In every instance, college students are playing a major role.
Americans are totally fed up with politicians from both parties for putting the needs of the wealthiest one percent of this country before the needs of the rest of us, the 99 percent. The average American does not believe the rich are paying their fair share. Working people are tired of hearing national leaders tell them multinational corporations “are people too,” or even worse, hearing their company executives tell them, “Just be happy you have a job.”
We see the poverty statistics rising, families living in cars, war veterans committing suicide, food banks being overwhelmed, and homes being foreclosed.
Those of us blessed with a chance for a hard-earned college education expect and deserve to enter a workforce where we can find employment doing something more rewarding than being an assistant manager at a fast food restaurant or some retail shop at the mall. We all have to accept responsibility for the mess we are in and commit to making the world a better place.
–We can no longer afford to elect people who are nothing more than representatives of corp-orations like Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil or Goldman Sachs. We need to stop buying cheap plastic junk made in China and start making quality products right here in this country. We must demand jobs with decent livable wages so families can survive.
No matter what our status or our role is in society, we have a right and a duty to make our voices heard. I hope my fellow students at Francis Marion University care about the events that are unfolding in our country. Whether you agree or disagree with me on the importance of taking to the streets, you deserve to have a say in your future. Please make your voice count.