It’s been a hectic month. I feel almost guilty saying that. Call it survivor’s guilt. The revolution has not gone well for the people of Iran, yet they remain an inspiration for us all, and they do not give up. Their change will come. It is plainly inevitable. The old guard is senile and has lost its moral authority, and the rest is in the numbers. Over two-thirds of the population is under 30 and well educated (with a near 100% literacy rate). Such numbers do not bode well for any group of authoritarians, and authoritarians thrive on fear and ignorance whether they be religious leaders in a far off land, or busybodies in small town America. It’s only a matter of time until the youth take charge of their nation. But so many have been lost, imprisoned, and face uncertain futures in the near term. Where local media is stifled by the old guard, social media becomes the de facto sole driving force. For it is not simply just a matter of information sharing, social media has in fact become a force unto itself, its own political presence with its own set of unexpected consequences, so much awareness focused in such an acute manner eliciting its own sense of self awareness in both the participants as well as the observed. Without the interplay of this dynamic one can only wonder how much worse the brutality and oppression would have been (see #IranElection, #gr88, etc.).
Twitter continues to champion social causes elsewhere. In mid-July twitterer’s became aware of the City of Oxford, Alabama where the city fathers have offered up an ancient Indian tribal mound to Sam’s Club to serve as fill dirt for a new store (see http://bit.ly/Z9eKU). Sounds incredible I know, but they did. And this is the largest such native American mound in the Southeastern United States, estimated by archaeologists to be approximately 1,500 years old, making it older than Islam.
Built stone by stone by an aboriginal people without the benefit of horses or oxen, each boulder was carried to its resting place by hand, clearly a point of devotion and likely for centuries forming the spiritual focal point for the inhabitants of the region likely containing untold artifacts, perhaps human remains… and the City of Oxford found fit to offer it up as an enticement to commerce, something that Sam’s Club likely neither requested nor even needed, and in the broader sense, something not the city’s to give. One can only assume that the area’s current residents’ eagerness to be rid of this mound could only be motivated by their consideration of it as an eyesore, a blight upon their otherwise Utopian vision of strip malls and travel lodges.
The University of Alabama and the Preservation Society of Alabama advised against demolishing the site but the city went ahead bulldozing and tearing into its foundations. Of course the local authorities trivialized the entire matter saying the hill had simply been used for sending smoke signals, hence the name, Signal Hill, but University archaeologists had already determined otherwise.
There is a reason authoritarians resent the educated. They don’t like to be contradicted or held to account, especially when they’ve been found guilty of offenses they would have gleefully prosecuted others for had the circumstances been reversed. So the twitter “Virtual Protest” (which continues) appears to have had an impact, with the city fathers and Sam’s Club public relations going into defensive mode, at least temporarily.
Oxford Mayor Leon Smith continues to flatly deny the mound is man made (we’re not sure where Mr. Smith derives his knowledge of geomorphology, but it’s been contradicted by University archaeologists who characterize Smith’s suggestion as bizarre and asinine). Adding to this is City Project Manager Fred Denney’s statement that he never suggested using the site for land fill in the first place (although this is contradicted in several different AP accounts), and the City’s continued refusal to allow any local media to access the site (sound familiar?), and what you end up with is a picture of a city government in apparent full retreat. Only time will tell. It seems safe to say that if the twitter fueled Virtual Protest were to cease, the mound would disappear (see http://bit.ly/e46yC #NoSamsClub, #SacredMound, #NativeAmerican, etc.).
A third social movement new to the twitter scene is The Oneness Day Petition promoted by Yoko Ono already signed by such notables as Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson, Joe Vitale, Deepak Chopra, Timothy Freke and Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A group called Humanity’s Team has set out to collect 50,000 signatures with the idea of persuading the UN to declare a Oneness Day, described as, “a day set aside and embraced by individuals, communities and nations for humanity to celebrate, discuss and experience our commonality, while still acknowledging and respecting our beautiful cultural diversities…a day to unite in Oneness for the greater good of the Human Family.”
I’ve signed this petition and am pretty excited about the prospect. Creating such a day effectively creates a high profile point of focus for people all around the world and that is after all what this is all about (awakening the world mind, and it’s all about focus).
Of course I’m just one of many who would be chafing for more than just a single day each year (world meditations are popping up all over the place, #MeditateMonday on Twitter, and Pete Brach’s Twitter Meditation For World Peace to name just two), and having to pick just one day begs the question as to which day the UN or Humanity’s Team would end up picking.
Now I’ve always been kind of partial to the Winter Solstice, that shortest, darkest day of the year, but then choosing that date for Oneness Day would be to put it smack dab in the middle of the Christmas holidays, and perhaps worse yet (at least for the short term) would carry with it the built in distraction of coinciding with the end of the world planned for 2012… I know… it’s all just too precious… the things people find time to worry about rather than simply wake up (oops… I see another blog entry LOL).
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