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Friday, September 12, 2008

Sparks and Flames

Throughout human history, there have been specific events that have shifted the course of social evolution in an entirely different direction. These events have included occurences such as the Boubonic Plague, the Middle Ages, the Renessaince, the Industrial Revolution, both world wars, the introduction of atomic weaponry, and the ongoing struggle for rights of life that are universal and blind to race, religion or social, sexual, or political orientation.

However, we are now on the brink of an endgame, which may not be a specific event, but rather the converging of a seemingly infinite web of events. Although we as a people have avoided a full scale war or cataclysmic event , the endless small scale conflicts, environmental disasters, and the increasing rate of social entropy are beginning to take a toil on our minds, our resources, and our ability to bounce back from everything that we (either consciously or inadvertently) throw at ourselves.

Nonetheless, good-hearted yet overly idealistic people still try to stem humanity's march towards oblivion. They travel to distant and impoverished countries, build schools, irrigate fields and try to educate those who are "less fortunate". Although I commend the tears, sweat and in some cases blood that has been shed by those with more for the sake of those with less, these efforts cannot be more than a stop-gap measure.

Change has to come from within. While it is understandable that a down-trodden people, beaten down both by life and by those who have defined themselves as "masters" may not know how to assert their place in life, having change (improvement?) brought to them is not the answer. The only action a foreigner/outsider can take is to provide the spark to fuel the local awakening. I refrain from saying revolution, because that word has a . . . tainted history.

Semantics aside, those who need change must work for it. They can be shown an alternate existance, they can be inspired, given a shoulder to lean on or a helping hand--but they can not be given.

In order to cause lasting change, people must strive and fight for an idea. An idea does not die--it is difficult to attack, hard to erase from the memories of those who struggled for it, and most importantly, and idea will give strength beyond food, water, shelter, economic development, etc. People are mortal--those who fight for what they believe in may die, but if properly nurtured, an idea will live forever.

In every oppressed people lives a dormant explosive force, that if triggered, has the potential to unleash an unstoppable wave of change, the potential to spawn progress, and the potential to shatter the status quo. Once the latent fire hidden inside all abused and battered people burns steady, once oppressed people begin to think, act and dream for themselves, it is time for those who provided the spark to step back.

Further meddling by well-meaning but usually ham-fisted outsiders only serves to dilute the sense of "we did it."

A feeling of "they helped us" cannot survive for long before social decay once again takes hold. While we all might be destined to spend our last days fighting to the death over the basic necessities of life, I know that I personally would fight much harder for I or we than for a foreign ideal or outside perception of "right."

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