Common Sense Questions for 2016

As we enter 2016, there are many concerned citizens asking themselves if this New Year is actually a new beginning. Will the 2016 Presidential election mean tangible change to tackle income inequality? Will 2016 follow-ups to the 2015 intentional COP21 Climate Change Conference lead to genuine and lasting results? Will more people come to understand that Black Lives Matter in 2016? 

In this first month of our new year, anyone who dispels the notion that a new year has the potential to incubate progress should take note of a historical event that happened on this very date. Thomas Paine anonymously published a rebel pamphlet questioning the status quo on January 10, 1776. The publication, Common Sense, is widely credited with raising awareness about a problematic status quo and helping to stoke the American Revolution.

Now 240 years later, we are wondering if revolutionary questions need to be asked once again. For example, just 158 families donated nearly half of all 2016 Presidential campaign contributions to date. So we ask, is our electoral system as fair and open as the nation’s forefathers had initially implored? 

Congress voted to lift a 40-year old ban on crude oil exports in order to help spur fossil fuel trading in December 2015. Coincidentally, the very same month that the U.S. government signed a global climate change accord to take bold climate action. So we are left to consider, is our leadership really following through on their pledge for climate justice? 

And after months of protests throughout 2015 to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, Chicago politicians still spent 13 months delaying the public release of a video showing a white police officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald, an African-American citizen. So we must question: are local, state, and federal leaders actually heeding our calls for equality and reform? 

Questions of this nature are often complex, controversial, and multifaceted. But rather than overlook or oversimplify these calamitous issues, maybe we are ready to make 2016 a year of nationwide introspection. A year in which we resolve to ask: how far have we come since the 1776 Declaration of Independence was signed, and what work remains in our nation’s pathway to progress? 

Perhaps 2016 will stand as a year when we dare to open the pages of A Rebel’s Handbook once again in order to confront the quagmire of our problematic status quo.