"Until they have become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious"
- George Orwell
We are here today in a search for knowledge. I think all of us want to learn about each other and even ourselves. But I find it curious that so few of us wish to know what the government is doing. Today, as we speak, our legislators our making decisions which will ultimately effect our lives. Yet, we do not seem to care. Is ignorance bliss? I cannnot believe that or we would not be here today. But how many of you know how many Justices are on the Supreme Court and what their names are? What is the issue on the Hill today and who is lobbying for and against it? I can't pass judgement on you because I too am guilty of ignorance.
The people of the United States have not been in touch with their government for a long time. Even during 1930s people thought, as some do today, that they could live comfortably off their Social Security Checks. Now our elderly have no money and many have low standards of living and poor medical care. It was never fully explained to them just what Social Security was. It was their responsibility to ask.
Can anyone tell me the difference between Soviet propaganda and a United States press release? Or Libyan Terrorists and American Commandoes? A lot of people probably could tell you. They would say that the government hides nothing and lets us draw our own conclusions and that the Soviets are always bias. They would say that commandoes were brave men, highly skilled in demolitions, used for dismantling enemy installations. A terrorist is scum who uses car bombs and kills for obscure political groups. Of course we know that depending on your point of view there is no difference. But people accept what the government tells them. This can't go on. Believing without thinking is criminal.
So what is the impact of letting the government make my decisions for me? What will not knowing who votes for what and when hurt me? Lot's of people knew of the problems with Savings and Loans. But no one seemed to question or inquire into its "questionable" actions. No one seemd to notice the large amounts of money appearing in legislators bank accounts, coming from the S&ls. And now it will cost the taxpayers 225 billion dollars to bailout these bankrupt institutions.
No one seemed to question the Red Scare of the 1950s. In 1946 a Soviet spy-ring was discovered in Canada. Rumors started to fly about officials being "commies" and they were aiding the evil socialists. President Harry S. Truman established the Temporary Commision on Employee Loyalty. By the time the commission had finished investigating over 3 million people, 212 were dismissed and another 2000 forced to resign. Senator Joe McArthy had a list of 57 people, all who were supposedly communists. It was rumored he had a personal list of 205. Senators resigned, actors couldn't get work and unrest was created in local government. While all this was happening almost no one stood up and said, "Why?"
Ah, but I see you are not impressed. Let me try to demonstrate something you might be able to relate to better, censorship. Our decision to not interfere has let the government slowly censor us. They use words like "ratings" to cover up their true purpose and justify it by "protecting" us from "offensive" material. Most likely you have heard of the proposal for "record labeling". Recently the rap band 2 LIVE CREW was banned in the state of Florida. No records or concerts, no t-shirts or buttons from this band will be sold their for a very long time. They were "offensive" and the government felt that they were not "fit" for listening. The government has in effect, told the people of Florida what they can and cannot listen to. I have not heard of anyone doing anything about it.
As the Supreme Court passed judgement that flag burning was a right of free speech Congress went into action. They proposed an amendment to the Constitution to save "Old Glory". Flag burning was an "insult" to democracy. It was "offensive" to our way of life. If this amenment were passed would the government be allowed to outlaw all "offensive" material. Would books like 1984, ANIMAL FARM, A BRAVE NEW WORLD and WE be burned. Would people caugh listening to John Sinclair with MC5 be arrested. And most importantly, would anyone care.
I would certainly hope so. But as I watch the world operate I do not believe so. As society is today, the only thing that counts is "me." Unless some government action has a direct affect on you, it is none of your concern. This is the way the world works today and probably will work for quite awhile. If a problem affects a certain intrest group we do not support them because it is not our problem. And when a problem effects you no one supports you because it is not their problem. Slowly the government gains control, passing a law here, sending money their while no one is there to stop them.
Is their an end to this madness? Yes, but it begins with us. We must take an injustice against an individual and fight it as if it were our own. We can no longer be content with climbing to the top by throwing others off the ladder. We must not only do what is good for us but do what is right for us. And over all we must care.
I am going to tell you a story that my father told me when I was younger. He told me a story about a man who was interviewed by American Reporters after the liberation of the Concentration Camps at the end of World War Two. They asked him how they could let their country go so far. He said:
"First they came for the Jews. I was not Jewish so I say nothing. Then they came for the rich. I was not rich so I say nothing. Then they came for me. And there was no one left to say anything anymore."