A couple of my progressive friends have been
sending me samples of the outraged emails they receive critical of
Obama and the administration. Finally, I'd heard enough and wrote
back. Here is what I said:
I wonder if "he's a terrible President" or we're terrible at getting involved and STAYING involved with our civic responsibility. NO leader, however well-intentioned, can take people in a direction they're not willing to go. Ghandi said something like, "They are my people, and I am their leader, and I must hurry up to catch up with them." Politics is often described as the "the art of the possible."Yes, of course there are many special interests who do NOT want change (e.g., NJ has more pharmaceutical companies that any other state in the nation, and they don't want laws and regulations that would introduce foriegn competition or jeopardize their profit margins.) When the only voices they hear are the lobbiests, and the only money contributed to their campaigns comes from those with narrow interests, should we be surprised when they are responsive?
WE THE PEOPLE get the laws and the government we deserve (and fear is a powerful motivator--that can be used for good or for ill). It's not the politicians and special interests we should blame, but ourselves. Here's a quote I like very much:
As a country we're just waking up from years and years of civic passivity and cynicism to our responsibility in these matters. We have been short sighted and self-indulgent. True, corporations have spent billions of dollars to convince us that "virtual" is better than REAL. Attendance is down at national parks, museums, historical sites, and live theater. We have hundreds of channels of "free" television. We prefer Disneyland's interpretation of global travel to the real thing. Nobody forces these things on us, we simply go along with them. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco and firearms all become problems because of individual personal decisions.
"History is full of instances where people, against enormous odds, have come together to struggle for liberty and justice, and have won - not often enough, of course, but enough to suggest how much more is possible.The essential ingredients of these struggles for justice are human beings who, if only for a moment, if only while beset with fears, step out of line and do something, however small.And even the smallest, most unheroic of acts adds to the store of kindling that may be ignited by some surprising circumstance into tumultuous change."
Industrial food processors have spent billions convincing us that convenience and speed are superior to nutrition and taste. We have epidemic levels of overweight and obesity among our children: 1 in 3 is overweight or obese and 1 in 4 will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime.
Drinking water is becoming a scarce commodity. The outstanding documentary FLOW demonstrates how what's needed are not billion dollar dams but a million $1,000 water projects at the grass roots. Food security and energy security come from small, dispersed systems.
Somehow we have, as a society, come to think that problems are solved by finding someone else to blame. That is a poor substitute for individual commitment and action for change. Right now, we ALL need to stop criticizing the President and members of Congress on both sides of the isle (a POOR use of our energies), look and see what policies we really want (choose one or two that we care the most passionately about), roll up our sleeves and GET TO WORK. "No not that" has never moved the game forward. "Just say NO" is the cheapest possible political shot. We need courage and vision and committed action--OURS.
If the grass roots leads, our leaders will follow. Stop grumbling and get involved!