Saturday, April 16, 2011

Loneliness and Revolution Part II

There are ample examples in history demonstrating that people revolt not for being taxed heavily, not for being rudely treated, but because they are not allowed to speak out for themselves, they are not permitted to voice opposition against their leaders, let alone participate in government affairs.

Before the American Revolution broke out, the colonists had resisted taxation extensively. They successfully won repeal of the Stamp Act. They smuggled goods to avoid the Sugar, Tea, and Townshend Acts. In the end, their chief complaint against the Mother Country was "Taxation without Representation!" They objected not just to the taxes, but having taxes levied on them without their consent.

The American colon its wanted to be heard, they wanted to have a say in their governance, including taxation. Even following the hostilities at Lexington and Concord, the Second Continental Congress extended "The Olive Branch Petition" to King George III as an attempt to smooth over relations. When the King refused to consider the legitimate demands of the colon its, the American people fought for their freedom to govern themselves, by their own consent.

Consider other, more recent revolutions in history. Despite the widespread conditions of oppression, limited access, and poverty, what instigated populist uprising was the government's refusal to let the people be heard.

The 1830 Revolution in France--King Charles X had shut down the major newspapers before demonstrators took the streets to remove the Bourbon Monarchy once and for all: July 30, 130, Revolution across Paris gives way to the July Monarchy.

The Revolution(s) of 1848--From January to early February of that fateful year, intellectuals and journalists convened in banquets throughout Paris to denounce the unjust laws which were preventing assembly and failing to help the poor in the country. When "Citizen" King Louis Philippe shut down the banquets, the French People take to the streets. Another Revolution overthrew the Provisional government not even four months later.

Now consider the Jasmine Revolution. The spark which set of the political upheaval still engulfing the Middle East all began with one fruit vendor. When complained to the civil authorities after a government official unjustly seized his fruit stand, the police beat him up. Finding no other means of making himself heard, the vendor doused himself in paint thinner before the ministry of his home town, then cried out "How do you expect me to make a living?!" and set himself on fire.

His desperate act of outrage moved his own countrymen to speak out. The nation, which refused to hear him, not had to heed the condemnation of the people which it had for so long oppressed.

Social media throughout the Arab World has allowed young people to communicate without being caught. People from Libya and Egypt to Syria and Bahrain now are rising up, demanding to be heard. Despite having endure extreme privation and humiliation at the behest of their leaders, they are now no longer content to be hushed. With the technology and momentum on their side, the Arabic peoples no longer endure suffering political oppression in lonely silence.

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