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From the Soil Blossoms Rise

The American Dream has dripped through the cracks. Like liquid neatly filling fissures in the gravel and dissipating, our concept has perished without a sound. It was a concept once defined as having the opportunity to attain vast success and happiness regardless of ones background. The house, the car, the family, the money, what have you. Despite these claims of glory in defining the American Dream, it is a debilitating truth that the dream has devolved into a pursuit of the most basic liberties and securities one could expect to receive in this land. From the government invading privacy, to secure safe retirement, down to simply trying to survive in a pool of income inequality the American has been reduced to a struggle to get by, rather than climb to the top.

Those pursuing the American Dream have refocused from success incomparable to safety and security in a country where perhaps the guarantee is not so profound. The definition of success in pursuit of the American Dream has been less focused on things such as a nice car or a nice house, but instead for financial security. It is nothing short of appalling that a dream once defined as having a home you could be proud of has been torn down by economic turmoil and uncertainty into a hope of simply having a home at all. This modesty suddenly prominent among Americans can be argued to have rooted from the economic inequalities prevalent in our society, for example the big house and shiny car are no longer so commonly being seen as attainable by all, but attainable by all in a particular economic and social caste.

Many Americans abandon the pursuit of  success for a pursuit of security with the former not being such a grand guarantee.  As citizens of this country we must ask ourselves what can be done to avoid a fate of working deep into our old age just to spend our final years as we spent the early ones: just getting by. A call for a refinement of social security and the safety of personal investments must be made in order to challenge a vicious cycle of lost money in a void of mismanaged borrowing and sharing.

The American Dream is no longer and ideal defined by glory as once was ascribed to it in the past. Gone are the days of pursuit of happiness, but instead we usher in new times of managing to beat a system with the intention of infringing on the liberties and refuges once promised by the very same system. No longer a dream of attaining success unparalleled in the face of possible hardship, but a vision of overcoming guaranteed hardship without destroying oneself in the process. As a nation projecting such complacency with its circumstances, we are charged with the blame for not standing up and calling for reform when the problems were not elevated to the dramatic scale they have reached today. Whether we want this to be our new definition of the American Dream is up to our discretion, it is vital as those having to live within the system to decide if the dream need be changed from one of survival to one of triumph. -Shivite12

A Green Apple Until they Painted me Red

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Yesterday a colleague of mine and I got into a minor spat concerning the blanket surveillance tactics utilized by the National Security Agency. (Previously touched on by UnfoldedOP here) Both parties brought up valid points, yet he had one question that stuck with me, for its one I’ve heard asked often since the exposure of these programs by Edward Snowden: “I’ve got nothing to hide, so why should I be against spying measures that ensure my security?” 
Let’s first tackle that vagueness, what does it mean necessarily that you have nothing to hide? For the purpose of argument we’ll apply the simplest definition: having no plans to break the law or harm the general populace. The error with this mentality is that although we’d like to believe in consistency, people, government, and life as a whole do not tend to take the path of little alteration and least resistance. Most consider themselves law abiding citizens, the definition of which is subject to change each year as laws change. Take, if you will, the Russian American population during the current international struggle we find ourselves. Should the United States want to keep a closer eye on their Russian citizens they need only manipulate the info gathered by the NSA, in this circumstance no longer being used for anti-terrorism, now just the broad term of national security. In the 1940’s Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and at home we responded by accusing the Japanese American population of espionage as we rounded them all up into camps, because whats a safer place for your citizens than locked up where they cant compromise your other citizens, a distinction that should try to be avoided by the American Government if it truly wants to serve all of us equally. These Japanese Americans simply had to be registered with the government as japanese to be included in this stain on our nations history.Mass surveillance becomes a problem once it has left the realm of security reassurance for the public, and entered the realm of “tool of the state.” As reported by Human Rights Watch, concerning a similar situation taking place in Ethiopia, “authorities use access to mobile data and call recordings to harass and arrest people they believe oppose the government,” and granted at this moment in time America may not be spooked enough to look past the mass persecution of people in the interest of “security,” but September 11th, 2001 we were absolutely spooked enough and all it took was one attack. When the Boston Marathon bombings took place Mosques around the country felt an uneasy atmosphere surrounding their sites, with a suspicious population circling about with various accusations for the Muslim community. And what if the next attacker is of Irish descent? Or an extreme baptist? Our information is only safe in that massive meta-database so long as a member of our community, culture, or social circle is involved in activities disapproved by the government. Instead of waiting to get up in arms about the spying until the government has targeted you only puts the problem on the back burner, acting now allows for immediate remedy before a greater burn is felt.  The government of the United States having this mass surveillance capability is detrimental to our progress as a nation, for controlled growth by a ruling class becomes a stronger reality each day the NSA is allowed its blanket surveillance. Here’s to hoping Obama follows through on an end to these programs, and pushes towards a more positive international tomorrow. Cheers. -Shivite12

HRW article concerning Ethiopian Mass Surveillance, a great read: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/03/25/witness_price-mass-surveillance

The Cold Shoulder

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Today a friend and I discussed the humanitarian crisis in Syria. As we delved deeper into the labyrinth of government kidnapping and extremist jihad ideologies, frustration at the desperation of the situation began to reveal itself on his face. He asked me finally, “why is the rest of the world getting involved then? Even its neighbors attack(Israel and as of yesterday Turkey) when the conflict spills in the slightest, why don’t we just let them eliminate each other within their borders secluded from the rest of the world?” I was awestruck at the notion. The answer I gave was pitiful.
“Because that isn’t the right thing to do.” What a joke. Well now I wish to address this question after some time letting it bounce around in my head.

1. Why isn’t that the right thing to do? When a nation experiences prolonged and costly turmoil, the road to recovery tends to be a long one fraught with despair reminiscent of the conflict itself, as was seen with the fallout of the Spanish Civil War. A steady simmer, as evidenced by the current protests taking place in Spain, remains present among the populace and wears on their nerves considerably. Allowing this to happen in Syria, then the next country and the next, only furthers the precedent of insubordination among the cooperating international community.

2. So what? The strongest countries will prosper. A domino effect of countries experiencing civil strife fueled by mercenary forces can spread easily, and despite any interest in war games, civilians are forced to handle the fallout. Why allow Syria to continue to fall deeper into conflict until a nation and a race are practically wiped from the Earth? Further, no country is immune to civil strife and eventual downfall, as even the most powerful nations have internal problems only further stoking the fire.

3. What kind of fallout could be so bad from a civil war that it calls for international intervention? Picture an entire generation of people with missing families, limbs, education, money, homes, trapped in eternal poverty in their war ravaged home, in a prolonged humanitarian crisis that could have been avoided. Then to add to the problem, millions of Syrians will flood the world in a bid to escape a horrific experience on the home front. While I personally couldn’t blame them for wanting to escape such atrocities, its recognized that many countries wouldn’t be quite so receptive to a flood of refugees, atop those that have already ran from the conflict. Why allow things to spiral to such a height? The world powers must address this conflict and come up with a prompt and reasonable solution, for this blasphemous slaughter has dragged on long enough. So why isn’t ignoring the problem the right thing to do? Ignorance is only bliss as long as your conflict isn’t the one being ignored. Is enjoying brief ignorance and avoidance worth letting the fire spread to our allies, let alone ourselves. Action now can prevent greater action later.
-Shivite12

 

Tigers and Lambs

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Are economic sanctions, pinpointed and limited, enough to slay the Russian dragon that has made a spire in southern Ukraine? With a leader willing to okay a land-grab of such grandeur, atop signing the original law into place permitting military force in Ukraine for the broad purpose of “defending Russian-speaking citizens,” is the questions really worth asking at this point? Even with protests of the movements at home the Kremlin appears to be feeling little to no pressure on the national and international front, more or less providing a green light for further violations of sovereignty by other big global players. Human Rights Watch(HRW) reports there has been a “crackdown on free expression and assembly,” while hundreds have been detained “in some cases arbitrary and others by unnecessary force,” principally within Moscow. Could this be Russia back on its way to the Stalinist style power trip fueled by a corrupt government? Putin’s behavior does not bode well for any members of the international community. The precedent of little to no consequence in the face of a hostile takeover of a neighboring country sends a message to other countries with a bone to pick with others that their actions will hold no consequence. While the world makes the call to Putin for an end to the chaos he has unleashed, the spotlight should also accommodate leaders of the EU and US to provide true punishment beyond weak economic sanctions. If the opposing world powers cannot bare their teeth in the face of aggression, how long will we wait before the next snap of a twig that brings the wailing lamb to the jaws of the tiger. -Shivite12

HRW article here: www.hrw.org/news/2014/03/18/russia-government-tightens-screws-after-sochi

You can donate to HRW here: www.hrw.org

The Pit; Syria’s Freefall

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While perusing the news yesterday I came across this article in The New York Times, touching on a concern I’ve had in recent months: how has the conflict in Syria lasted as long as it has? The reasons vary from the religious zeal of extremist ideology to the steadfast pursuit of power by the Syrian government lead by Bashar Al-Assad. In high school I recall learning about the tragedy of the Holocaust, and in my own case the plight of my Native American ancestors(though the information was substantially minimal I don’t mind noting.) When we were educated about these falls of man the underlying theme seemed to be that as a people we had a responsibility to never again let such travesty befall our fellow being. Yet here we stand idly by as a nation burns, children are left homeless, dead, or diseased in a conflict that’s no longer able to find a unifying cause outside of the lawlessness that plagues the land. As explained by Anne Bernard:

“It is not as if the world has no evidence of Syria’s ordeal, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people. Syrians have issued a sustained, collective cry for help from what is now probably history’s most-documented manmade disaster. They capture appalling suffering on video and beam the images out to the world: skeletal infants, body parts pulled from the rubble of homes, faces stretched by despair, over and over. Despite that, to the bitterness of Syrians, the world’s diplomatic attention is drifting. Even as Syria’s epic suffering is remaking the human geography of the Middle East and beyond, initiatives to ease the crisis have sputtered and failed to offer effective help. Already tenuous hopes for an internationally brokered peace settlement have further faded as Russian-American relations worsen.” -Anne Bernard, The New York Times

While the world watches Crimea, and the newfound Russo-US relations that are bound to follow, what will come of the chemical weapons disposal deal brokered by Russia and the US? What will come of Putins support for the totalitarian Syrian Government, let alone the United States’ for a rebel movement now principally inhabited by Jihadists? Whatever your poison, raise a glass in the hopes Russia and America can once again settle things amicably without having to dredge up cold war diplomacy. Evolution only moves forward right? -Shivite12

(Title link leads to Anne Bernard’s stunning piece on the Syrian crisis)

Shameful Performances

Shameful Performances

Yesterday, Crimean citizens voted in a landslide 95% majority, to secede from Ukraine and align itself with its previous ruling power, Russia. This particular piece of democratic action has been at the center of the global stage since protests climaxed in Ukraine in January. Since then events have continued to escalate, almost setting off a bloody conflict between Russia and Ukraine amidst a myriad of provocations. The Ukrainian government, however, was wildly put off by the secession, and like the United States, Japan, and other western powers refuses to recognize the democratic(that some would argue corrupt) process that took place in this southern coastal region. I find myself haunted by many questions in the aftermath of the vote, with two in particular unable to leave me be. The first is for Vladamir Putin of Moscow’s leadership, I ask: With all the protests outside the Kremlin, and the economic sanctions placed on you by the U.S. and the E.U., was it all worth it? I speculate you miscalculated and now sit with an entire caribou kicking and screaming on your plate rather than the delicious flank you were awaiting. Eat up. And a question for the desk of POTUS, Barack Obama, Is military dominance in the world worth running to the rescue of every European country that experiences strife? And on top of that is it worth our international reputation to turn all red in the face with Russia when our international rhetoric is already filled with lies and double standards(I.e. Russia violates Ukrainian sovereignty, which we proceed condemn, yet we violated Iraq’s among others)? Hypocrisy rarely benefits the international community. -Shivite12

Putin’s Poker Face

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Let’s be transparent with ourselves reader, we understand Russia’s global image. One of rigidness, adaptation in harsh circumstances, tough demeanor, the list goes on. Let’s face it during this chaos in Ukraine Vladamir Putin’s PR team has been banking on the “tough Russian,” and “non-negotiable James Bond villain,” look. Yet this show of muscle from the Kremlin since the occupation of Crimea has done little to boost international faith in Russia. The Kremlin would do well to ask themselves this: What kind of economic sanctions is Crimea worth, and in the fallout should they choose to dominate the region what will be their next move? -Shivite12

(Title link leads to Daily Beast article discussing the risks Russia undertakes with their decision to occupy Crimea)

A look at economic consequence

When examining the Syrian conflict we often become enamored by the bullets flying and the mess of politics that surround it. I was particularly drawn to this video due to its portrayal of a lesser known victim: those burdened with the economic fallout. Jordanians find themselves trapped in a paralyzing economy clogged by a massive influx of Syrian refugees, pouring into Jordan to escape a likely demise. The conflict in Syria shows little to no signs of losing momentum, a foreboding sign of only greater casualties and human rights violations to come. Let us once again hope for an end to this strife before 2015. -Shivite12

You can donate to SaveTheChildren here: http://www.savethechildren.org

Second a Day; Save the Children UK

Heartbreaking video by Save the Children UK. Touching on a previous point it is easy in the west to distance ourselves from conflicts abroad, yet as is portrayed in this video even places like the UK can fall to the plight of man. Take a second to watch and consider the consequences when events like this are continually escalated with no intervention by the international community in states such as Syria. If the destruction won’t end now, then when? -Shivite12
SaveThe ChildrenUK: twitter.com/savechildrenuk
http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/

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