What have always been the perfect conditions for social revolution? France in 1789, Russia in 1917? Gaping inequality between the haves and the have nots. Back in 2005 my book The Translucent Revolution has a chapter on Spiritual Activism. At that time, we did not know, when, where and how. But we knew that an uprising was coming sooner or later. Now it is here, and we have the possibility to set things straight.
Here is what I wrote in 2005:
Thanksgiving dinner. Your whole family is there: parents, children, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws, your closest friends. Look at your plate. It is piled with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, ornately carved vegetables, rich gravy. You’ve got several glasses of different European wines in crystal glasses. Exotic seaweed salad, imported from Japan. On a nearby table are many different kinds of dessert. Yes, all for you. Now imagine that the people seated closest to you didn’t do quite as well. They each have a microwave turkey dinner, $3.99, from Safeway. And Coke. The rest of the table really missed out. Some have bread or gruel and water — contaminated. Some have nothing.
Could you enjoy your meal under these conditions?
More than two billion people in the world live on less than a dollar a day, while the CEOs of many big corporations make millions of dollars a year. Eighty-five percent of the world’s wealth is held by one percent of the world’s population. A 1998 United Nations report shows us that the cost of compassion and balance is far lower than we might think. Universal worldwide access to clean water and sanitation would cost $12 billion a year, less than the amount spent on perfumes in the United States. Basic health care and nutrition for everyone would cost $13 billion, less than the annual spending on pet food in the United States and five percent of the cost of the invasion of Iraq.
The imbalance between the haves and the have-nots also exists within the United States. In 2000 the wealthiest four hundred families in the States made an average of $29 million each, which would require the combined paychecks of 504,600 retail clerks to match. It is this kind of disparity that led to revolution in Russia in 1917. As the gap continues to grow worldwide, logic tells us it will end when the disenfranchised finally say “enough,” ushering in the collapse of the economic system we now have — another indicator that life as we know it may be in for some bumpy times.