We have been losing ground. Corporate politics has invaded many sectors of our lives. In times of tactical retreat (in preparation for later advances), the military uses a tactic called blowing up the armory to describe a situation in which they will destroy any unsecured weapons and munitions to prevent their opponents from capturing them and using the arsenal against the retreating forces.
“Look out upon this nation and tell me what you see,” a friend once said to me.
I told her I saw anger, hunger, poverty, senselessness, fear, sick and worried people, hatred twisting faces, greed stuffing overfull guts, ignorance regurgitating lies, well-intentioned impotence, self-centered passivity, and, beyond this roiling sea of humanity’s foibles, I saw my opponents lined up to massacre us all.
A smoothly functioning society is created and maintained by the people. Children go to school, workers show up at their jobs, shipments are made, groceries and purchases are bought, bills are paid, goods and services are delivered; and so on. In times of justice, when the workings of society are fair, respectful, and uphold the rights and dignity of humanity, then the people have every reason to collectively maintain functional workplaces, schools, roads, social events, and so on.
Enough! Enough of this senseless criticizing of one another. A Dandelion Insurrectionist who is imprisoned and beaten by the police is no more revolutionary than the mother who gets up in the morning and feeds her child. We all have tasks that are imperatives of our times and we must do them with humility. Those of us trying to make change through civil resistance are no nobler than the plumber trying to clear the shit out of the pipes.
We say we want change. So every few years, we elect new officials, and they continue to churn out more of the same policies, legislation, and rhetoric. The rich continue to get richer. The poor slide deeper into poverty. Corporations and the wealthy see pet projects and sweet deals passed through Congress. The People receive yet another bitter slap in the face.
Discussing politics in the United States is becoming a continuous boxing match with shadows of half-truths, distortions, misperceptions and wildly differing information streams. People meet in the street like aliens arriving from strange worlds that bear no resemblance to one another. Then they proceed to fight each other over whether the planets circle moons … or whether suns circle planets. It does not matter that they are discussing astronomical apples and oranges. Tensions escalate over who is right or wrong. Someone throws a punch. The fight is on.
If you really love your country, you would not be satisfied with platitudes and flag-waving, national anthems and military parades. A truly patriotic citizen does not sit idle as the land and waters of his country are polluted by extractive industries. A true patriot does not sneer and scorn her fellow citizens who live in poverty or are unhoused. A true patriot does not place higher loyalties with corporations than human beings. A true patriot sees no glory in war, nor security in spending more on military than on peace and justice for all of humankind.
A nation built on greed is not a nation; it is just a legal framework for rape and pillage, slavery and exploitation, theft, murder, and genocide. A nation whose primary function is to protect the exclusive right of the rich to engage in those behaviors under other names has no more moral legitimacy than the lawless state that allows common criminals to run wild. Greed by any other name smells just as foul. Greed cloaked in terms of “national security” or “for the good of the economy” is just as detestable as the greed that steals toys from children and purses from old women.
The tools of nonviolent action and the skills of struggle are as vital to these times as reading, writing, and arithmetic. Training to use them is as essential as learning how to use a computer. The ability to boycott and strike is as important as the ability to drive a car. Every citizen who knows how to use email should also know how to protest, walk-out, shut-down, occupy, blockade, and more. This is the only way the power of the people can hold the power of oligarchs in check.
If we, the people, wrote a constitution now, what would go in it? Equal rights for women, men, non-binary, and undefined? Caps on wealth tied to poverty levels? Rights of nature? Reparations for past crimes, wrongs, and thefts? Limits on military spending? A free and open Internet? Abolition of mass incarceration, or the entire prison system; replaced with restorative and community justice? Free healthcare for all? Living wages or universal basic income? Would we keep corporate personhood or the electoral college?
I want to love this broken-hearted country, this land of shattered dreams and dashed hopes. I want to place my ear to the drumming cadence of our cities and hear the insistent pulse of life. I want to wander the forgotten highways of stories that run like wrinkles through our body politic.
The holidays are at hand. Boycott Season is in effect. As the snow starts to fall, the commercial war of the season asserts its dominance. Our identities as citizens are quickly buried in a blizzard of advertising that defines us as consumers.
If you like being a peon, a serf, or a slave, by all means, continue on with business-as-usual. Your corporate overlords are delighted to exploit you. They’re thrilled at the prospect of profiting off your descendants for all eternity. But their hourglass is running out of sand. The planet’s ecosystems are collapsing. We will not last long as underlings. This is a paltry comfort as we slide toward mass extinction.
Greed is an addiction. Like lab rats choosing pain to get doses of opium, the greed that underlies our way of life is killing us – and make no mistake: our way of life must die. Pathological consumption is no more acceptable in human beings than in locusts. It will die or we will die. The question is only: will we go down with the sinking ship of our culture or will we evolve again, past the folly of homo sapiens’ dubious wisdom into a species willing to live in balance with our one and only planet?