It wasn’t, “We the conglomerates.” It wasn’t, “We the corporations.” It was, “We the people.”
The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.
Every person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.
On this Fourth of July I’m more convinced than ever that if substantive change is to come in this nation, it will come from the bottom up. We, the people, are called upon in these challenging times to right the course of America, rather than our so-called political leaders, elected though they may be.
George W. Bush’s recent commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence is merely the latest example of how the system is rigged, how Washington insiders, Democrats and Bring 'em onRepublicans alike, take care of one another, while the rest of us get thrown a bone only when we howl loud enough.
Our leaders claim to have our best interests at heart, but except for a handful, they are driven by self-interest, by the desire to be reelected, to maintain their powerful positions. That takes money, and that means selling their souls to the highest bidder, rationalizing their actions by telling themselves that this is the way the system works, that they wouldn’t be able to do anything for anybody if they didn’t take the money and run.
Sometimes I feel so hopeless about the state of affairs in our country—the power of the military-industrial-congressional-media complex, our decaying infrastructure, the downsizing of the middle class, the rampant drug use (legal and illegal), the lobotomization of our youth by TV and video games, the ever-increasing prison population, the rape of the environment, our military misadventures overseas, etc., etc., etc.—that I believe that there is nothing I can do. I become paralyzed except to scan the Internet for signs that the power structure as it now exists is about to collapse under its own weight—the ineptitude to really get anything substantive done, the pissing away of our tax money on countless boondoggles, the “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” attitudes, the acceptance of lobbyists’ largesse, the belief in their own omnipotence, and ultimately, the boundless bad karma that all this brings.
Thomas Jefferson, author of our Declaration of Independence, once said, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” My guess is that Jefferson is trembling today along with many of our Founding Fathers as they reflect (from wherever they are) on what we’ve let transpire in this nation of such great promise. In fact, perhaps we should revisit the Declaration that they all agreed upon 231 years ago:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain Inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
I think it’s time to start altering and abolishing, time to institute new government. I think it’s time to take action, no matter how small. I think it’s time to quit waiting for the guys who have fouled our nest to clean it up themselves. No man or woman on the white horse is coming to our rescue. Not Hillary, not Obama, not Edwards, not even Al. It’s up to us, right here, right now.
Right here, right now we can become creative in how we go about creating a more just, compassionate and sustainable world. We can care for our children by making sure that what enters their bodies, minds and spirits nurtures them to the greatest extent possible. We can inWomen on the march a similar manner care for ourselves. We can walk more softly on our planet by reducing our carbon footprint in numerous ways. We can buy less stuff we don’t need. We can support local merchants, especially those who are good community members. We can let our elected officials know that we won’t take their crap any more, and we can work toward the election of true public servants. We can create our homes as our sanctuaries and invite friends and neighbors in to share our sacred spaces with one another.
What one person can do may sometimes seem insignificant. But there are more of us than we sometimes realize. And when hundreds, thousands, millions of us powerfully focus our intention on the creation of a better world, a potent force is loosed that may not become immediately evident. And when we take action in support of that intention, we have already begun to create exactly the world we want.
* Title based on quotation from Barbara Jordan