Activism

Bad guys winning

Looks famil­iar, doesn’t it! 

And well it should!  Whether Repub­li­can, Demo­c­rat, Green, Lib­er­tar­ian, Tea-Party con­ser­v­a­tive, Occupy lib­eral – or some­where in between – all of us wit­ness the above almost daily…and almost all feel plenty of unease about tomor­row. Democ­racy can at times feel unwieldy…it’s true…but it is how We, the Peo­ple par­tic­i­pate in our polit­i­cal sys­tem, what the ancient Greeks referred to as the “man­age­ment of the affairs of the city.” Today we find our role in our democ­racy being snuffed out, crushed by the influ­ences of extra­or­di­nary sums of money, unchecked cor­po­ra­tions and their pow­er­ful lob­by­ists, and – yes – even our own polit­i­cal parties.

The tug-of-war above? 

The car­toon has it right. We’re los­ing and los­ing badly. And it is a cer­tainty that if We, the Peo­ple don’t come together – to fight and win against big money, big cor­po­ra­tions, polit­i­cal par­ties and the power they wield, we will – make no mis­take – lose our democracy!

In the midst of the bru­tal ten­sions between polit­i­cal par­ties, eco­nomic classes, races, unions, envi­ron­men­tal­ists, sci­ence deniers, etc. we are, after all else, more alike than we are dif­fer­ent. We want to feel safe as we walk our neigh­bor­hoods; we want enough to eat, a clean safe place to sleep at night, edu­ca­tion for our chil­dren, access to med­ical care when we’re sick or infirm. And for those ben­e­fits, we’re more that will­ing to tackle a job that pro­vides suf­fi­cient income to take care of basic needs.

Where is that white knight when you need him?

We all HOPE some­one or some­thing will inter­vene – a dif­fer­ent pres­i­dent, a new con­gress­woman or sen­a­tor, a magic fix to the world econ­omy, a fig­u­ra­tive shin­ing knight on a pow­er­ful steed. Then we’d surely live hap­pily ever after and with­out a need to get our hands dirty.

The plain truth is this:  as cit­i­zens of this land it is our respon­si­bil­ity – to be knowl­edge­able and intel­li­gent, in touch with what is hap­pen­ing around us – every day. It is our respon­si­bil­ity to stand up, to speak out with clar­ity, not in hate and arro­gance and igno­rance. It is our respon­si­bil­ity to elect smart, cre­ative, hon­est indi­vid­u­als who care about oth­ers, about inclu­sion, about the future, and who in most cases will make bet­ter deci­sions than those dri­ven by greed, cor­rup­tion, nar­row ide­ol­ogy, reli­gion, or polit­i­cal strategy.

The Break­down? 

It starts with the ruse that your voice and vote count. In truth, through a con­trivance known as Ger­ry­man­der­ing, the two major polit­i­cal par­ties – by manip­u­lat­ing vot­ing dis­trict bound­aries – divide vot­ing con­stituen­cies so that their can­di­dates can­not lose. Instead of vot­ers select­ing their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the polit­i­cal par­ties select their vot­ers! They care­fully screen out those who don’t sup­port them.

Ger­ry­man­der­ing isn’t new. It was first reported in the Boston Gazette on March 26, 1812.  The word emerged when Mass­a­chu­setts state sen­ate elec­tion dis­tricts were redrawn, under then-governor Elbridge Gerry, to ben­e­fit his Democratic-Republican Party.  Once the map­ping was com­plete, one of the con­torted dis­tricts was said to resem­ble the shape of a sala­man­der, hence the deriva­tion of the term “Gerrymander.”

The_Gerry-Mander

And then comes the money… 

It buys access to your elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives – those sworn to rep­re­sent you and me – both when they run for office and once they are elected. It buys the pro­pa­ganda you watch on TV, lis­ten to on the radio, and read on your iPhone. It buys the elec­tion of those who don’t care about democ­racy or about We, the peo­ple. It buys bad air, unsafe food, toxic water. It buys war, inef­fec­tive pub­lic edu­ca­tion. It buys the lob­by­ists for chem­i­cal com­pa­nies, the fos­sil fuel indus­try, and for big banks. It buys votes and politi­cians and judges. And it keeps on buy­ing them.

Sup­pose we redraw the sce­nario to look like this?

wethepeopletruthcropped

Now we’re talk­ing turkey! Would this not warm your heart? Would it not cause a new-found belief in democ­racy of, by, and for the People?

Can we get there? Can We, the Peo­ple win this tug-of-war?

Yes, absolutely…but YOU must believe in your own awe­some power. Author Alice Walker says, “The most com­mon way peo­ple give up power is by think­ing they don’t have any.” Don’t fall into that trap! YOU COUNT! But only if you speak out! Stop hop­ing some­one else is going to make the world work. It’s YOUR DEMOCRACY!

  1. Do your home­work – read, watch, lis­ten, study, ques­tion. Be a thought­ful skep­tic; keep your eye on the pea beneath the shell. Get together with oth­ers, share views, ideas, vision…but do so with intent to under­stand, to find solu­tions. Be will­ing to make peo­ple uncom­fort­able, but don’t humil­i­ate them. They are the next con­vert in the line. Give them space to con­sider your discussion.
  2. Learn to see the truth, be coura­geous enough to speak it, pas­sion­ate enough to com­mu­ni­cate your heart. Write & speak with clar­ity & intent, com­mon sense, integrity, hon­esty, and humility.
  3. Com­mit to being an activist, to encour­age oth­ers to think dif­fer­ently (about their own con­di­tions). Protest to show your dis­plea­sure and/or indignation…at town halls, politician’s offices, at state & national cap­i­tals. And know this — with­out lots & lots of us in the streets, NOTHING will change!
  4. Stand together – for that which is right & fair, not because some­thing has a future capac­ity to make money.
  5. Care pas­sion­ately about tomor­row, even if you won’t be here. Don’t expect that you will see the END, but fer­vently believe that every­thing you do is a nec­es­sary step in the journey.
  6. Do it today! Tomor­row will be too late. If you don’t fight for what is just and right, you deserve what you’ll get!