I believe we have come upon a proverbial fork in the road where the choices we make now will either plummet us into an ever-darkening decent toward chaos or, if we wake up and act, lead us to the society we proclaim to be the ideal we yearn to achieve. The time has come for us to alter our course. Continuing with the status quo is no longer viable, and will only lead us further into darkness.
Yes, those are dire words. Yes, they invoke imagery that many will challenge as over-dramatized and simply used as an attempt to gain attention. Let us explore, somewhat briefly, a handful of the key points that support such a foreboding tone:
American Rights / Human Rights
“To count by race, to use the means of numerical equality to achieve the end of moral equality, is counterproductive, for to count by race is to deny the end by virtue of the means. The means of race counting will not, cannot, issue in an end where race does not matter.” -- William Bennet and Terry Eastland, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (source)
Until we remove from our vocabulary such ridiculous phrases as "Black Rights," "African-American Rights," "Women's Rights," "Children's Rights," and any other moniker that is not simply Human Rights (or, I suppose, we could continue to use "American" or "Civil"), we will never truly achieve any progress in eliminating racism, bigotry, or whatever term of bias you would like to use. It simply cannot happen. Do you get that? It is impossible to eliminate bias when we introduce it simply by describing some sort of bias in the name. The same holds true for organizations, entertainment, media, clubs, pageants... any introduction of a separate item specifically catering to one group and excluding any other group, by its very nature, perpetuates bias. It is time for change.
Political Agendas and Government Failures
"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." -- John Adams, from Bartlett's Familiar Quotations
Our government was founded on a set of ideals that we have effectively destroyed: a government of the people, for the people, by the people. We now have a system of government that is run of the elite, by the elite, for the elite. Further compounding the issue, we now have such a complex and over-reaching governmental "machination" that even those with the best intentions merely become absorbed into the bureaucracy. It is time for change.
Education and Intelligence
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." -- Plutarch, from Wikiquote
Our approach to education is far too singularly focused on memorization and attempting to pass national standardized tests. Throughout my entire academic career I found only a couple of classes that attempted to stimulate the mind, and those were merely the result of teachers who understood the concept of true education as opposed to any guidelines or attempts by the institutions to fulfill their true purpose. It is time for change.
Common Sense and the Loss of Innocence
"That's what it takes to be a hero, a little gem of innocence inside you that makes you want to believe that there still exists a right and wrong, that decency will somehow triumph in the end." -- Lise Hand, quoted in The Truth in Words : Inspiring Quotes for the Reflective Mind (2002)
We live in a constant state of self/socially-induced naiveté. We prefer to think of it as a state of innocence, and yet I can honestly say that we have lost our collective "innocence." We see right and wrong in action every day and, for the most part, we pretend it doesn't exist or we look the other way. We see the problems with racism, with the state of human rights, with the actions and inactions of organizations and our government, and we still hold to the misguided notion that someone else will come forward and solve our problems for us. We must act. We must step forward and become the heroes we long so desperately for in these times. It is time for change.
Challenging the Status Quo
"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." -- Apple Inc.
There really is nothing to add beyond the idea this quote captures. To borrow another line from the same marketing campaign, the concept is that we must "Think Different" if we are to move forward.
I do not believe I have all of the answers. I do not believe any one person has even half of the answers. I do believe, however, that it is time for us to quit sitting idly by and watching our nation, our society, our communities, and in many cases even our own households continue along the slow, downward spiral we find ourselves upon now. It is time for change.