As I drove home, after picking up and dropping off my mamushka and baby sister (age 17) from the Los Angeles International airport, I lowered the window of my 2003 Ford SUV and savored the fresh winds trickling through the post-rain midday sunshine. On the corner, I spotted an aged, tattered American Flag waving listlessly above a rusty yellowed 89-cent store sign. I felt then, in my bones, the blessed luck life had dealt me.
How truly lucky I am to live in a country where I can work towards and for my dreams : Where I can brazenly express my sexuality and personal beliefs : Where I can live as an independent woman without obligations to a man : Where I feel free to discover myself and be wholly me.
My internal dichotomy lies in the fact that I’m simultaneously a staunch liberal and proud American citizen. I’m grateful that my Cuban family, and by association me, aren’t stuck in Castro’s oppressive regime where material poverty and worse, lack of basic human rights drive many to madness. An existence so overbearing my grandma has described it, “The stress overwhelms you to the point that … Every night it felt as though the sky were falling on me … ”
That being said, I’m not blind to the injustices mi querido US of A imposes on other nations and their people. Most days I feel towards the United States like I’d imagine the daughter of a big 1930s mob boss might feel — Grateful for the protection, care, and opportunities he affords me yet heartbroken and angered by the criminal brutality, the cruelty he wields upon others that stand in his way.
As I drove closer to home, I was filled with a sense of relief that only Home can breed. Home: Where I snuggle into my bleach-stained worn soft pajamas, crawl under the warm covers of my perfect humble little bed, turn on the space heater, and write all night — If I want to. Yes …
While basking in that relief, I began thinking about all the women my age in Tunisia and Egypt that could not do the same.
Their corrupt, oppressive, and greedy governments have created morose and hopeless living conditions, which have most likely kept them from experiencing this type of relief. In Tunisia the Ben Ali regime for 23-years and In Egypt the Mubarack regime for 30-years. Dictatorships financially backed by my U.S. government for reasons that are best summed up by these two articles: Tunisia & Egypt. Long story short, we basically backed them to gain the usual: Power & Money. NOTE: Although I’ve linked the Tunisia & Egypt political history summaries to Liberation, which is a socialist newspaper, I do not identify as a socialist or a communist or a democrat or a republican or a capitalist or a viking. I do not belong to any political party. I am loyal to my personal ideals and ideas, which are in constant development over time and age. I merely referenced that paper’s summaries because I think they give a pretty accurate description of what’s been politically going on in those regions over the past 30 years.
Anywho, I know that governments have been and probably always will be corrupt. That isn’t new news to me — the child of disillusioned ex-communists who fled the island of Cuba after the communist revolution THEY SUPPORTED won and turned its back on the Cuban people for … dun dun dun … Power & Money.
The futility of pointing out the obvious is creeping in on me, but I’ll do it anyway:
It hurts to have your country — a place where you enjoy so many priceless liberties, where you’re allowed to exercise most basic human rights such as freedom of speech (for the most part. okay, the USA ain’t perfect, but we’re doing better than Egypt ovah’ here!) — support the repression of millions of other peoples’ basic human rights. Knowing that the people you helped elect to office suppress other folks’ right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness … well, sucks. Yeah, the gas I put in the SUV I drive (which I make up for owning because I help ALL my friends move so don’t gimme grief bout’ it’), has cost an entire country of people the special sense of relief I enjoy when I arrive home.
Government. Government’s only role is to serve the welfare of its people and represent their interests & values on a global front. That’s IT. To help ensure the greater good of the whole, to protect the basic human rights of every woman, child, and man within its borders, to represent their values and principles in foreign affairs, to establish a system where by its citizens can live healthy and liberated lives. It’s not as vague as it sounds. Really. Affordable healthcare and quality education for all. Tax the super rich, allocate more money away from the military and toward public education and mental health programs, stop punishing the middle class with bogus tax hikes, stop destroying and preventing democracy abroad, ETC. You get the drill. I’m not a politician. I just know what makes sense and matters to me.
First and foremost, above all, FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION. Secondly, the opportunity for quality healthcare and education for all. Thirdly, the opportunity to earn a fair living for all. Fourthly, respecting the RIGHT of every other nation to do the same for their people.
A 24-year old college-graduate set himself on fire to show his Tunisian government how BADLY its citizens needed it to change.
Inspired by the victorious Tunisian revolt, the Egyptians too protest their dictator Mubarak. According to The Associated Press:
“This is the revolution of people of all walks of life,” read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. “Mubarak, take your son and leave,” it said.
Isn’t the role of government to serve the people? If the people don’t want you — LEAVE! SERVE THE PEOPLE! Don’t shut off their bloody internet, you bloody sociopaths!!!
Other important tidbits of information about the revolt in Egypt as relayed by The Associated Press:
Egyptians were emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia — another North African Arab nation, and further buoyed by their success in defying the ban on gatherings …
One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped apart a picture of the president.
“To hell with Mubarak; We don’t serve individuals. We serve this country that we love, just like you,” yelled another soldier to protesters from atop a tank scrawled with graffiti that said: “Down with Mubarak!”
An ARMY CAPTAIN ripped the picture of his own “president.”
NPR reported on January 29th:
… protesters have been receptive to the army, cheering soldiers and welcoming them “like heroes,” said NPR’s Nelson. Many are standing on top of tanks with soldiers, as if they’re on the same side though the army is still being deployed by Mubarak.
NPR reported on Jan. 28th:
“We don’t want him! We will go after him!” demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: “Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!”
The Internet blackout in Egypt shows that a country with strong control over its Internet providers apparently can force all of them to pull their plugs at once, something that Cowie called “almost entirely unprecedented in Internet history.”
Yeah President Obama, it’s time to stop our cash from flowing to the Mubarak Dictatorship. If you’re going to keep puppet governments all over the mid-east could you at least have the decency to pick ones that grant its citizens the basic human rights we enjoy here in the US of A?
Ugh. Okay, governments are going to be corrupt. People with power and money often turn into greedy green-eyed monsters that do brutal unjust things to augment their power and money. Politicians are notorious for being beasts of this nature. Okay, fine. I just say: Either A) Let other Nations rule themselves & keep out (which will sadly never happen) OR AT LEAST B) Support puppet governments that watch out for our western interests WHILE implementing democratic rights for their people like the ones we Americans enjoy.
My heart goes out to the Tunisian and Egyptian people. May the governments that rise to power in the absence of their crumbled and crumbling dictatorships serve them better. May they not end up with extremes like Fidel Castro or Mubarak. May humanity have mercy on itself. May politicians that actually serve in office grow A HEART and employ the principles they profess to value.
After all, everyone’s one hell of a saint on the campaign trail. May politicians one day embody in practice what they profess to stand for on podiums.