Flickr image By Mike Miley
Have you ever experienced that feeling just before a massive storm hits, as the skies darken, when you can feel a mounting pressure and intensity in the air, and there is this eerie silence; when you know it's going to be a bad one but you don't know exactly when it's going to erupt? The American people, though greatly stressed and frustrated remain passive, submissive and largely silent. But is this, in reality, merely the calm before the storm?
Every since the housing collapse triggered the recession that began in 2008, millions of Americans have been battered and beaten down, struggling to find jobs and stay afloat during this dire crisis in their lives. They watch as this government that should be attacking these problems has become totally dysfunctional, collapsing under the weight of a broken and corrupted political system.
But with all this pain and suffering, personal setbacks and the prospect of more and more of the same, the people of America remain in a form of semi-paralysis, full of fear and apprehension, but not protesting; seemingly unable to vent their mounting anger.
Those in the field of psychology would tell us that this is not a good condition. Keeping things inside, allowing problems to fester without relief, can be extremely harmful, both physically and mentally. People under such stress and tension in their lives often come to the point where life has lost its meaning and that's when unexpected things can easily happen. What are the people of America to do, where can they go, who can they turn to in their greatest time of need? Can they continue to wait and hope that this president or this Congress will respond to their needs?
Two major factors have the potential to trigger a societal eruption in America; jobs and food, both necessities of life. We all know about the never-ending jobs problem but there is another rapidly escalating problem involving food. Right now there are about 45 million Americans living below the poverty line and about the same number dependent on food stamps. The combination of a lack of jobs and the inability to pay the increasing prices for food are forcing more and more people into poverty and on food stamps.
And there is yet another factor that could bring on a storm of protests and rioting. Suppose the GOP maintains control of the U.S. House of Representatives, wins the presidency, and then begins to dismantle entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare? Or suppose that President Obama wins a second term and joins the Republicans in making significant changes to these entitlements, as he previously indicated "were on the table?" Then I believe there will be a societal explosion in America, the likes of which we cannot imagine.
Is there anyone who thinks that this kind of civil disobedience and protests can't happen in America, that this nation is somehow immune from them, that the people under such immense stress have infinite patience and can continue to remain in a state of frustration and desperation endlessly? We need only look at what's happening in other parts of the world and we may find our answers to these questions.
The Middle East protests came out of nowhere after social unrest erupted in violent protests in Tunisia that spread into Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and surrounding nations. These were followed by a series of violent protests in London that have taken place over the past year; protests of dissatisfaction over increases in student tuition and government austerity measures. Violent, continuing protests in our very close ally, Britain, are an ominous sign that they can also happen here in America.
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