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Encouraging Experience at "Economic Recovery/Do Something Positive" House Meeting

By       Message Bruce Toien     Permalink
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At a Portland, Oregon home last weekend, my wife and I attended an "Economic Recovery/Do Something Positive" house meeting, one of 3,587 hosted across the country. Although I'm not a meet-up kind of guy, the idea that President Obama was actively soliciting input from these meetings was electrifying--after eight years of utter indifference to public opinion exhibited by the White House. 

The score of people there were mostly mid-career types possessing a diverse array of talents and experience. In the group, we had business-owners, writers, attorneys, software developers and so on. Some were weathering the economic crisis; others not. Some still had health care; others not. But there was one overriding commonality: We all were tired of frustration, tired of talk and eager to *do* something for a change. For a change. 

At first, I was afraid that "do something" would mean choosing from the short menu of activities typically requested by activist groups such as: manning phone banks, knocking on doors, leafleting, etc. Ugh. I'm a database designer and an aspiring writer--because I'm pretty good at those things and I like doing them; whereas I loath bothering strangers at dinnertime, even for a good cause. So I was gratified that this gathering had other possibilities in mind. As a self-defining group, we did and will continue to consider a smorgasbord of "somethings" to do that capitalize on our individual strengths, inclinations and imaginations. There are so many ways to effect change and rebuild our country that "from each according to her or his abilities" makes terrific sense. And that is the approach that really appeals to me. 

On the way home afterwards, I said I was very excited about coming back for the next meeting. The spirit of it recalled for me something said by a phone-in caller to Thom Hartmann's program on Air America radio, "We're not looking to Barack Obama to be a savior. But we are counting on his promise to make a space for the rest of us to act." Yes! After so many years of a go-it-alone administration that closed off spaces, slammed doors and shut out smart and skilled Americans by the millions, the simple act of the President of the United States soliciting input from citizens meeting in living rooms across the country felt as historic as the Berlin Wall coming down or the shot fired at Concord's Old North Bridge. 

We don't need marching orders. That's not our style. We just need that open door and a skilled advocate going to bat for us--and we can take it from there. So it falls to us to keep pushing through that door to keep it open. For as skilled as he is, not even Barack Obama can hold it open for us indefinitely. As he repeatedly emphasizes, he needs us as much as we need him. I don't think it's hyperbole to quote one of Obama's role models, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."   
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Bruce Toien is a database designer/developer in the Portland, Oregon area, with an interest in the interaction between technology, society and a sustainable economy. Over the years, Bruce has published numerous opinion pieces relating to these (more...)

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