Ronan Furuta

When the Citizens Cry, the World Must Listen

There exists a deep dissatisfaction inside the hearts and minds of so many people in our current world. The recent protests around the globe demonstrate the basic flaw with how “the show” has been running since the beginning of memory.

When disgruntled people unite in solidarity, standing up for basic human dignity and the right to a peaceful and prosperous existence, they create a stonewall of strength and conviction, with little need to exert hate or meaningless destruction.

They stand to proclaim the truth about Money and Evil. They see the rotting fruits overripe with “power” and greed. Whether they shout or whisper, the same phrase chorales in unison: It doesn’t have to be this way…

It’s a primary human desire to want prosperity. When this realization becomes embodied in a large group of people, the Old Plan no longer seems like a viable option. People unite in radical solidarity against the bigger, life-denying forces of oppression, greed, and wanton abuses of power. And ultimately, these global protests help us understand the fundamental malaise of human suffering that affects all of us : the illusion of ownership; the lie of individual superiority.

It took this much rotting deadweight to reach the critical mass of our current awareness, and still the scales are barely tipping towards the light. We say barely, because despite the disasters, wars, and the daily doses of homelessness, depression, and oppression, many of us here in the U.S. would still rather use the limited emotion we have left towards crafting the perfect Instagram post, or towards our daily digest of the Kardashians, or perhaps finding the perfect vegan donut shop.

And look, all that is okay, ‘cuz sometimes we simply need to decompress and look away from all the terror and despair. Our emotional filter needs cleaning after accumulating so much junk. Detox! it screams.

Sometimes we have no energy left to be upset at how our society is fundamentally not okay. But there is a limit to how much artificiality and blatant betrayal we can consume before we lose connection to our very humanity.

So for those of us that are curious, below are the profiles of several countries around the world that have recently declared that they’ve had enough. And hopefully, we can find some inspiration to fuel ourselves towards change, one small step at a time:

France

AFP

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: President Macron imposes a controversial carbon fuel tax after issuing tax breaks for the wealthy.
FUELING THE FIRE: High cost of living, disproportionate tax burden on lower and middle classes.
THE DEEPER ISSUE: Infringement on Basic Equality and Livelihood. Lack of trust in leadership.
RESPONSE: Violent protest resulting in 4,000 injuries. President Macron promises tax cuts, higher pensions, and reform of civil service. The country is still awaiting massive reform. The Yellow Vest movement also sparked a slew of other protests:


Hong Kong

The Washington Post

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: Extradition bill with mainland China
FUELING THE FIRE: Decades of undermined autonomy and unfair representation from mainland China.
DEEPER ISSUE: The fight for a true democracy.
RESPONSE: Tens of thousands of protesters initially; grown to 1 million. Removal of extradition bill. Continual unrest between civilians, law enforcement, and government. Demands for inquiry into alleged police brutality.

Israel

Times of Israel

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: 10-year-old Ethiopian-Jewish boy Solomon Teka shot and killed by Israeli police.
FUELING THE FIRE: At least 110 officers and 26 rioters injured; 1309 demonstrators arrested.
DEEPER ISSUE: Economic, racial, and class tensions between the Ethiopian-Jewish community and the dominant culture in Israel. General police inaction and national apathy towards marginalized communities in Israel.
RESPONSE: Continued acts of vandalism, terror, and protest from individuals still outraged from lack of appropriate response from government and law enforcement. Off the heels of these continual tensions, protesters have stood against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demanding his resignation for his indictments for fraud, bribery, and breach of public trust.

Peru

The Washington Post

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: President Martín Vizcarra dissolves the Congress after unsuccessful attempts at eliminating corruption
FUELING THE FIRE: Interim president Aráoz resigns, mass protests across the country after the opposition leader Keiko Fujimori was placed in detention for alleged corruption.
DEEPER ISSUE: The stark contrast between the extended period of political stability in recent past and the current threat to its constitutional integrity
RESPONSE: Keiko Fujimori pardoned. Legislative elections decreed to determine the legality of President Vizcarra’s actions

Lebanon

IPI Global Observatory

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: proposed taxes on gas, tobacco, and web-based phone calls
FUELING THE FIRE: Public outcry against the country’s sectarian political system.
DEEPER ISSUE: Condemnation against nationwide discrimination based on class, gender, and religion; stagnant economy; high rates of unemployment; pervasive corporate corruption; lack of access to basic resources like water, electricity, and sanitation.
RESPONSE: Country is in a state of political crisis. Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigns, publicly supports demands for a government comprised of independent specialists. Protests continue to rage across country. New government formed despite public disapproval. International support for protesters.

Haiti

Reuters

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: President Moïse attempted to end fuel subsidies.
FUELING THE FIRE: Information surfaced about corruption allegations over mismanagement of a Venezuelan oil subsidy program.
DEEPER ISSUE: Worsening economic conditions. Diminishing access to basic resources. Being a country with one of the highest debt ratios in the world. Mismanagement of trust and goods.
RESPONSE: Resignation of President Jovenel Moïse.

Syria

Loop PNG

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: Turkey’s invasion into Kurdish-dominated northern region of the country
FUELING THE FIRE: Outcry against U.S. soldiers retreating the area and terminating their military support.
DEEPER ISSUE: Civilians are in constant stress and terror over deep political unrest.
RESPONSE: Ceasefire agreement. Allegations of Human Rights Violations against Turkey for use of biochemical warfare. 300,000 people displaced from their homes, creating a global refugee crisis. Turkey continues to host millions of Syrian refugees, while also illegally deporting Syrians back to their conflict-ridden country. Nearly union-wide sanctions from EU against Turkey. Deep sense of betrayal felt by Syrians towards U.S. Russia issues humanitarian aid. New agreements for diplomacy being discussed.

Columbia

Time.com

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: Labor union protest against rumors about unfavorable reforms and pension cuts
FUELING THE FIRE: Sparked anger over social inequality, poor education system, and the slow implementation of peace deal that was set back in 2016. Death of 18 year-old protester Dilan Cruz.
DEEPER ISSUE: Discontent over violence against indigenous and social leaders, rising political unrest in surrounding Latin-American countries.
RESPONSE: Initial response by President Duque to hold a national dialogue to address the public demands to improve education, environment, political and corporate corruption, and economic inequality. Protesters still unhappy at the lack of productive response. Negotiations between National Strike Committee and the Colombian government set to continue.

Chile

CIEE

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: Raised subway fare led to social media movement of young people dodging subway fares.
FUELING THE FIRE: President imposed curfew across the nation. Military commanded to re-instate order.
DEEPER ISSUE: Citizens feeling abandoned and ignored by leadership. Rising inequality, poor distribution of resources, growing disparity between wealthy and lower classes.
RESPONSE: 11 killed. The subway fare increase rescinded, 20 dead and close to 2,500 wounded. Government to re-write Constitution. Protesters skeptical about actual impact of such legislative changes; continues to protest.

Iran

Middle East Eye

IMMEDIATE CATALYST: Egregious increase in fuel prices; continued political corruption
FUELING THE FIRE: Government shooting and killing protesters, confiscating bodies to mask the actual casualty count. 1,500 civilians killed.
DEEPER ISSUE: Ongoing economic hardship, human rights violations, deep social inequality, and general mistrust of the Republic, President, and Supreme Leader.
RESPONSE: Hundreds of government banks, anti-American billboards, posters and statues of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, military bases, and 9 religious centers destroyed or attacked. Internet blackout. Protesters are not backing down, continuing to revolt.

Phew.

Though a global sense of solidarity has yet to form across the citizens of our planet’s many nations, technology allows us access to everything that’s already surfaced. If we take a minute to piece the puzzle together, we’ll see how similar the ingredients of each protest are.

Corruption is being exposed, inept leaders are being forced out of office, and policies that largely undermine the well-being of citizens are slowly being overturned.

Do these worldwide sparks of revolution tell the story of our evolving consciousness? Do the roots of these massive cries for change run deeper than the quickly-becoming-obsolete game of politics? The future may provide better answers, though right now there is little certainty.

One thing is clear, however. Tangible results from these protests are proliferating around the world. The people’s demand for more accountability and transparency in national leaderships are impacting legislation in many of these countries. Time will tell when we’ve truly united; whether we’ve truly ignited the collective core of humanity.

How steadfast will the momentum remain…

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