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Letters from Downunder

Why is there so little rebellion?

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

"Here I stand. I can do no other"
Martin Luther, 1517

(4/2013) The name of Martin Luther will be forever in the history books. His defiance of Roman Catholic teachings, corruption, and the indifference they had to the plight of the vast majority of people made him one of the greatest reformers of all time. The theses he put on the door of the church in Wittenberg were seen as a declaration of defiance, frustration and purpose. They became the rallying flag of reform, compassion and righteous faith to a world in sore need. His courage and determination are bywords, even today, and he is rightly honoured.

He could, however, not have done it alone.

Every lasting reform, every meaningful change takes the will and determination of one person and the support of thousands or even millions - who most often have no idea what they are helping set in motion. Luther took the existing widespread anger, rebellion and disillusion with the Catholic church and distilled it; His stance was both practical and symbolic, and it is the symbol that is used to galvanise support, that becomes the beacon, the rallying point at which a stand is taken, suffering endured and the flag of liberty raised. It has happened many times throughout history, and it needs to happen again.

It is not only the purveyors of oppression who resist reform, but many citizens in their grip - for what such folk have is to them the norm, something they are used to, and although it is not always comfortable or pleasant, change could bring worse things into their lives - or so they believe. And, as the purveyors are in a very powerful position, often being the ones in control, it is daunting to take a stance against them. Life is made easier by going along with them, for otherwise the price they exact can be the forfeit of that life, and if not that, then reputation, livelihood and influence. Yet such deterrents are never enough when it comes down to the wire. When rebellion gets enough of a head of steam it takes annihilation to stop it. The self-interest of the oppressors is, in the end, just that and no more: Self-perpetuating interest, never the greater good, never the overall benefit of the community, the country, or of humanity.

In such circumstances the view from the ground is always two-dimensional. It is very hard to get the 3 D scene - it's not until we fly around the globe, for instance, that we get some idea of its size, (just travelling across the country can never show us), and likewise we may know a problem exists, but cannot gauge its extent and the damage it does at home and abroad.

Many people from around the world, who can see the wider picture more readily than average citizen, despair at the problems that beset American society today, because they know full well the intense honesty, great moral responsibility and and simple goodness of the great majority of voters. They hear the cries of anguish over the callous, rabid slaughter of innocent children, and despair at the heartless response of the gun lobby who place profit above all else. They cry over the bombing of civilians in countries deemed enemies of the state, and cringe in horror over the extreme torture of those who may, for even tenuous reasons, become associated with nebulous groups who are termed terrorists by a government that has lost its direction, its ideals and its right to be respected.

If ever a figure like Luther is needed, it is now. There may well be someone who could fill the role, but the will and groundswell of support has not happened. Many non-Catholics fled the church's persecution before Luther got moving, but that is unlikely to repeat itself today in the U S A because it seems that there is simply too much comfort, lethargy and bewilderment there. Programs to get the economy moving, reduce unemployment, and the screaming petty fights in congress over taxation and the power of government fill the airwaves and screens. Justification for frenzy over supposed possible attacks on American soil by the enemy of the day are not allowed to be criticized in meaningful ways, yet it is still the reason for the expenditure of untold billions to ensure that anything like it cannot happen ever again. But armaments and aggression are not the answer. Neither is the installation of fear. Fear does not garner respect, but produces hidden ways of retaliation. The war on terror is actually a war of terror, and no country, no person is safe from it if they dare demur or fail to fully cooperate.

The picture that emerges is of a well-dressed loudmouthed giant threshing about on a stage trying to deal with all manner of abuse from gnats, pickpockets and foreigners. A figure that was humiliated and horrified by an act of terrorism, whose response was the use of irrational and unsustainable aggression, denial of civil liberty to many at home, and the closing of perceived loopholes afterwards. The audience looks on, horrified, scared and sad, wishing it would stop. If it weren't so terrifying it would be piteous. Attempts to preserve its safety lead to more perilous conditions; dependence on armaments manufacture for employment only lead to self-destruction, and being the preeminent consumer society leads to printing money to pay employees and local debtors , which in turn leads to the very steep downward slippery slope of foreign domination.

It doesn't matter where the blame lies - that can be debated forever, and will not change a thing - but why is there so little rebellion over the state of the nation today? Sure, the press is not very free, but there are so many other ways of catching and joining the waves of revulsion - unless, of course, they doesn't exist, that you are all too scared to speak out, too comfortable in the pink glow of complacency, too ignorant and carefree - and the goodness and morality on which a society depends for continued existence are in fact just a veneer. Tell me that isn't so, that you want to see reform, that you want to work towards a peaceable world, not just a nation that is constantly looking over its shoulder to see who is creeping up on it holding a WMD.

Raise the flag and a Luther will emerge. Send the signal and the rally will begin. You are a great nation. Take a stand, and help us respect you as once we did.

Lindsay, Down Under.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker