Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Revolutionary Momentum

Last night's Democratic debate in South Carolina and the worries of the country both reflect a profound sense of pessimism at the state of the American economy. Today's stock market woes indicate that, at minimum, we have officially entered a period of at least mild recession. This news comes as no surprise to many. To what degree and how long our monetary woes will be in force no one can say for sure. Indeed, I have read many different perspectives on the nature of this growing crisis and no one seems to know how best to address it.

Today's news makes a decided impact upon me, leaving me feeling deeply ambivalent. A study of history will reveal that all revolutions and revolutionary changes occur only in times of economic turmoil. The very issues we bloggers have been lauding and trumpeting in the face of an, until now, unbelievably apathetic populace may very well find some large degree of support among all members of society. We might find our ranks swelling now if catastrophic financial panic grips this nation. The irony of many is that it is only now that we are collectively hurting in ways we may not yet even fully comprehend--only now the necessary reforms we have been demanding for months, if not years, may come to fruition.

Change is the underlying leitmotif of this election and on the hearts, minds, and lips of most of us. We may very well yet see reform, and reform to a degree that has not been seen in years. Cynics will discount this statement and have good reason for doing so. I admit openly that there is a part of me which has learned to distrust the increasingly unproductive and self-serving manner in which our government has functioned for quite some time. The masses are clamoring for reforms and relief and whomever is elected President will hear these cries reverberating from people of all incomes, backgrounds, and walks of life. He or she must take care to take into account past mistakes, vow to not repeat them, but also formulate new solutions to address our changing times.

I am also reminded that this country was founded upon ideals and ideas. The United States of America as a concept was itself the product of a group of Enlightenment-era leaders who formed something unprecedented in human history. What they wrought should always be seen as a great social experiment, one formed by flawed human beings with the best of intentions. Any idea, any ideal, any proposal composed by mortals will be inherently imperfect and insufficient. That is our very nature. Though we strive to find a state of governmental perfection, it is highly unrealistic to expect that we will ever reach it. Our best efforts sometimes prove disastrous in the end and unforeseen consequences befall even visionaries. What we will be dealing with for the foreseeable future will be something both as old as humanity itself and new and unprecedented; it will test the parameters of the idealistic notions upon which our society is based. May our guesses, schemes, theories, and suppositions prove to be the correct ones. May we understand also that if they are not, this may not be any fault of our own creation, but the merely the way of the world.

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