Amendments and Arab Spring

/ 15 October 2012

Before I dive into what two separate things the title of this post focuses it on let me note that this post is part of Blog Action Day 2012: “The Power of We”. Basically the theme is discussing either local groups or global movements of people working together to make a positive difference. This close to the election here in the United States (though I’ll be focusing locally within Minnesota) that will be the local thing I discuss. I’ll also touch on the wider global movement that started with the Arab Spring and included the Occupy movement in the U.S. as the interconnected global movements to touch on. This isn’t a complete treatise on any of these but rather something to get your mind rolling in connection to current events and the other Blog Action Day posts.

The local organizing I’ll touch on is related to the two state constitutional amendments that are on the ballot here in Minnesota this election: One to formally define marriage between one man and one woman only, and one to put Voter ID restrictions in place that would require all voters to hold a valid state id or drivers license for the precinct in which they attempt to vote. I won’t be supporting either of these (the first as it is generally not right and the second because as a college student I myself am part of one of the groups that would be disenfranchised by Voter ID). But I don’t mean to discuss either in real detail, or persuade you either way, here. The point instead is that us citizens have the power to decide which way things will fall. Yes, there are interest groups and legislators that will attempt to persuade you one way or the other, but it is still a general election vote, and the grassroots organizations educating and persuading voters, that make the difference. I’m taking a course entitled “Local & Regional Governance” this semester, and one of the interesting tidbits in that course a few weeks ago was that the only ways for constitutions to get amended is through some process or another that involves the citizens. Laws can come and go with purely legislator and governor involvement, but these more permanent amendments can only come, or go, with the approval of citizens. Thus for better or worse, constitutional amendments that will affect everyone, even if indirectly, are things that require the power of the citizens, the power of we. So come November 6th, vote. It will be important to have your voice heard on every item, regardless which way you fall.

The events that surrounded what later became known as the Arab Spring, and led into the Occupy movement here in the U.S., are the interconnected global movements that certainly exhibit the power of we. I wrote a research paper on the relatively new (at least in the mainstream’s eye) element by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt: social media. These movements truly showed what this new technology can do not only for more accurate news reporting but also for organizing citizens locally and globally to a single (revolutionary) cause. Even before the pattern that was named the Arab Spring became evident these movements were global because of their reliance on social media. We are a global society at this point, heck Blog Action Day itself is evidence of this, and everyone who was made aware of these movements through the internet was in effect a part of them. You can’t deny you had opinions about what should happen during that time, now. One of the points these movements made is that our global population can and will be brought together as one by social media to effect change when the people of any single region (or multiple regions) think it necessary. “We” in this case is the connected global population of our planet.

So, two examples briefly touched on. One very local and with a tangibly connected population spanning just one state in the U.S. Another that correlated the “we” as the global society and even noted actions like the one this blog post is one of thousands in as a similar function. I suggest you reflect a little on these statements, and encourage discussion amongst yourselves that includes the other content being posted around the world today.