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?
The time is up. The time is now. Gather the people to do the work: the healing, transformative, deepening work of building community, solutions, understanding, skills, knowledge, and hope. You must be the one to make a change, to step out of the rutted tracks of the looming train wreck that is our culture. You must have the courage to walk into the wilderness of what you don’t know and embrace the solutions that will save our lives.
What do we do when we finally understand that the elections really are stolen? Or rigged? Or thrust out of our reach by the manipulations of rich and powerful people? Corrupted by corporations? How long does it take before we call the bluff? Another disappointing election cycle? Two? Three? How much more gerrymandering, corporate buying of elections, voter disenfranchisement, and outright fraud can we stand? When will we take seriously the necessity of change?
The Vote – the beloved, abused, scorned, corrupted, stolen, hijacked, pointless, profound, hopeful, depressing, hard-won, cherished vote – is not the only way to take action for meaningful change. Currently, the elections operate in our nation like a cattle chute, all too often forcing us back into the deadly, no-win tracks of the two-party duopoly that serves only the moneyed class. It becomes a handy device for siphoning off the demand for revolutionary change by giving false hope that elected officials will actually enact their campaign promises once in office.
Blockade the gangplanks of the Titanic! Shut down the boilers of the ship! Storm the stairs from steerage and seize the wheel!
We have passed the point where token victories, small handouts, and crumbs from banquet tables will help us. We have struck too many icebergs and the hull of our society has been breached. Band-Aids on shredded steel will not hold back the floodwaters of injustice.
There are those who would have us fold up our banners and take down our protest signs. They urge us to be reasonable and polite. They expect us to cram our dissent into narrow boxes of occasional grumbling comments and take our frustration out at the election box once every few years. These people write letters to the editor of small town newspapers claiming that the visible signs of dissatisfaction – pickets, protesters, political signs – are bad for business and distasteful.
Despair rides in front of our opposition, an invisible wind that blows like plague through our hearts. Here, our stand begins. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, we must keep despair at bay in the siege waged by the forces of destruction and greed.
Wishful thinking and random action will not topple the corrupt and powerful collusion of extreme capitalism, the wealthy elite, and military force. For all the courage shown thus far by people across the country in demonstrating, petitioning, even throwing their bodies in the line of danger, I call upon an even greater courage now …
You must believe that pockets of resistance exist. As America plunges into darkness, some people burn with resistance like fires in the night, aglow with respect for the civil liberties that define the modern ideal of freedom. The quiet murmur of their impassioned voices will call to you as they discuss nonviolent strategy and struggle, but you will not be asked to join them until you strike the matchstick of your heart, build a fire of your determination, ignite the blaze of your courage, and reach out to others.
Corporate demons possess our nation’s soul. They crept in stealthily, full of trickery and deception, but now they’re lodged in place, as surely as if they had stormed our homes and halls of power with guns and tanks. Perhaps we’d recognize their coup if they had assassinated a flesh-and-blood president instead of merely stealing the souls of all our elected leaders.
Curse the war culture! It leaves us at a loss for words, bereft of metaphors to describe our situation. Our minds become blank slates, unable to recognize dangers at the door unless they carry assault weapons or drop bombs on our heads.