We are currently experiencing a period of
significant cultural change. It’s exciting, widespread and somewhat
intimidating because of its magnitude. This collective transformation is
sweeping the nation, maybe the world. And there’s something altogether unique
about society’s seismic shifting.
|Why is this message so threatening?|
It’s not just occurring within the boundaries of social justice either. It’s impacting numerous political and economic sectors too. In the process, it’s unearthing traditions and behaviors that once were firmly cemented in place. The result? Hope for some. Uncertainty for others. Fear for a great many.
The causes are many and complex but the so-called Arab Spring is the global flashpoint. The events of Arab Spring, which took place half a world away in 2010, consisted of a wave of protests, demonstrations and civil unrest in parts of the Middle East. All were rooted in the dissatisfaction of the people with the status quo. Oppression seemed the common thread.
the same here in the States. For instance, the Black Lives Matter movement is a
grassroots campaign that’s galvanizing African Americans and their supporters
across the country. Its origin stems from the 2013 acquittal of George
Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. It has since evolved to more
generally protest many law enforcement agencies whose militaristic (some say
brutal) policies disproportionately target African American men and women.
|One theory of change|
On the economic front there’s Occupy Wall Street. This movement started in 2011. It illuminated protesters’ perceptions of, and attitudes about economic inequality in general, with particular emphasis on income disparity. The movement received global attention and inspired the broader Occupy movement against social and economic inequality worldwide.
Of a more personal nature, marriage equality awareness has surged in recent years. Known more commonly (though perhaps not as accurately) as same sex marriage, change on this front has centered lately on the LGBTQ community but the disabled community has also been affected. Only a couple months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
|Make room for all identities|
And let’s not forget about this nation’s policy (and make no mistake, it’s a policy) of mass incarceration, an institutional issue seemingly driven by the crime. Yet with the crime rate trending down, growing evidence points more strongly toward a broken, racist criminal justice system as the culprit. And it’s bookended by plain old fashion capitalism in the form of corporations running our prisons.
All this change is not without backlash. And it’s showing up in often weird, dysfunctional ways. For instance, the political landscape is unrecognizable. Presidential candidates are flippantly mocking each other and employing communication strategies more akin to reality TV than substantive, issues-based messaging. Surely it cannot last. Or can it?
|Time to change our criminal justice system|
This progress, while many welcome it, also is taking a toll on our collective psyche. It’s hard to keep up. I’m all for it though, especially if it ultimately results in increased compassion and empathy among those of us who (consciously and unconsciously) oppress others.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.