Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness“, a cherished phrase outlined in our Declaration of Independence is markedly and universally regarded as the essence of the basic rights afforded to each American. Plus there’s no denying that it rolls off the tongue ever so nicely.

In the US, it seems that while these three simple staples are inherently part of our culture, along with them, another fight is underway: to get more money for the hardworking American and to demand more accountability for those in power. The current Occupy Wall Street movement (and other Occupations throughout the country) are prime examples of how the American people are decidedly taking the Declaration’s most memorable phrase and manifesting it into their own destinies. The cry is pressing; government needs to be held liable for our current economic condition.

Across the pond, however, with the rise of what is being dubbed The Arab Spring, it seems that people are fighting too, but for things that the US luckily already has: basic human rights and a stable democratic government. With the ousting of Egypt‘s Mubarak, Libya’s Gaddafi, and the countless other civil uprisings all over the Middle East and Northern Africa, the people are finally speaking – and it’s louder and clearer than ever before. Nevermind a raise in wages or an explanation for why the mortgage bubble burst; they just want to be able to live under relatively peaceful conditions as human beings without fear of being beheaded or stoned. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

Still, what makes this time in our global environment most interesting is how similar these movements actually are in their fundamental purposes – even though they are so very different in their cultural foundations.

The US government has long been in bed with Wall Street, Big Business and the richest 1% of the population. There’s no secret there. And the Arab governments have long been in bed with the US, with much of their military and weapons-funding funneled directly through countless US administrations (both Dems & Reps are guilty on this one). So what we essentially have is this:  a governmental gang-bang with the “Do Not Disturb” sign indiscreetly hanging outside the door while both the American and Arab people wait outside with housekeeping.

Obama Administration: Arab People, You Deserve Better! American People, .. Uh… Sorry, We Got Nothin.

Baffling still is the unrelenting endorsement for the Arab uprising by the current US administration; an unwavering support for the military to step aside in countries like Egypt – allowing the people to put in place their own civilian-run government via a fair, democratic electoral process. Not to mention, another manipulable US ally in this unstable region wouldn’t be too shabby of a by-product. The US government’s consensus: hooray for the Arab Spring!

Conversely, the same US administration is producing an all but mute stance on the OWS movements that are taking place in their own back yards. No real response or tangible explanations are being offered to the American people, and the protesting is largely being ignored by top administrators. (coyly saying “we’re working on it” doesn’t really count either). Any response that’s not a muddled, ambiguous retort is one of complete cynicism. GOP candidates like the smug Newt Gingrich even go so far as to criticize the Occupy protestors by saying to “go get a job right after you take a bath”. Ah, eloquent words indeed. Especially coming from one of the dirtiest, corrupt hypocrites in all of US governmental history.
The fact is, no administrative support is going towards the uprisings that are occurring here in the US, but plenty of support is being ushered towards the Arab people who are rallying with a similar volume. Which brings me to:

So Egypt, Where’d You Get All That Tear Gas? Oh, Wait…

As Egypt’s unrest continues to swell, and more protestors are killed or injured by military forces and riot police, the question inevitably arises: where did all the tear gas, rubber bullets and nerve gas even come from?

Surprise, surprise. And by “surprise”, I mean “totally not a surprise”.

As much as the US claims that it supports the Arab Spring, and uprisings like that in Egypt, one wonders how the weapons being used against the very people who the US government is supporting are the same ones graciously supplied to the corrupt governments that the US actually helped put in place? Deep is the rabbit hole, indeed.

The simplified analysis here would be that, foreseeing the reality that Egyptian people have simply had enough, the best move for America would be to align itself with the winning side. It’s not just smart politics, it’s a safety mechanism the US has learned to utilize all-too-well over the years. So while Mubarak and Gaddafi were once very close US allies, now that their incredible unpopularity among their own people has removed them, best for the US to denounce these jokers and cuddle up with whomever’s next. In many cases with the Arab Spring, this means a civilian-installed leadership; most likely un-akin to what the US is used to dealing with. So good luck there.

But What About Here At Home?

As an Arab, I am extremely happy to see the tangible overturning of unethical Middle Eastern governments (aka dictatorships/tyrannies) and witness the people finally taking matters into their own hands – however dangerous the obstacles may be. There are generations of depravity to make up for, and so it will no doubt take just as long to establish something new and better; but there is a unified voice finally being heard, and that’s something that’s indeed long over-due.

But as an American, I am extremely disappointed that this same gusto for change hasn’t resulted in a more productive governmental transformation here; one that truly brings into question practices that are inherently damaging those three vital pieces of what we’ve collectively come to call our rights as Americans and that are outlined in our precious Declaration. If we are truly to set an example of how freedom of speech, peaceful demonstrations, and the right to organize are core principles that we wholly stand by, then we’d better start showing off our stuff right here at home. The spotlight is on and all that’s audible is the sound of crickets.

What are becoming evident now more than ever, especially through these movements, are the similarities shared between Americans and Arabs – revealing just how much of a cultural bridge exists between both worlds at the most elemental level. We are all in a similar pursuit: that of happiness.

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