Sunday, January 09, 2011
We All Are Responsible For The Republic
The massacre in Tucson is, in a sense, irrelevant to the important point. Whatever drove Jared Lee Loughner, America's political frequencies are full of violent static.
[Y]ou may find yourself as the vast majority of Americans do, as a passive observer with little sense beyond your ability to vote -- without having an avenue to express your beliefs and ideas when it comes to the national conversation.
Both the power class and the passive class are experiencing this sense of frustration and unfairness to one degree or another...For the passive class, have you chosen to deal with your knowledge of this unfairness either through denial of its existence, or through a logical apathy founded upon the belief that nothing you do will matter?
[S]etting a path to resolve the unfairness that plagues this country will originate not by looking outward at those whom we believe are perpetrating a given unfairness, but through a period of brutally honest inward reflection into the values that each of us apply to the ways we make the decisions in our days, from one minute to the next.
It is through investment in internal reflection that we can open the door to the knowledge that only our own happiness and fulfillment can manifest a peaceful path to resolving the problems that we face as a nation.
Through that reflection, the passive class can muster the strength to shed the protections of denial and apathy.
While your voice may feel hollow by itself, the possibility of becoming part of a national chorus of awakened can serve as a deeper foundation for the compassion and wisdom to accept our own shortfalls and those of our leadership as we continue the national trip toward a more fair and free America.
I have to believe that we can still effect change despite the current political climate and all obstacles in our way. No era has been charmed, no electoral system has been perfect, no movement has been instantly victorious, but the arc of history does indeed bend toward justice.
The key is for the People to rediscover their individual and collective power, and to exercise it instead of giving in to disenfranchisement, cynicism and hopelessness. There will be no one thing or person that will save us, so I encourage everybody to try something new, something outside your comfort zone just a little bit, something that used to be unimaginable to you.
It's not practical for most human beings to drop everything they're doing and fight totally for a cause, no matter how noble. Even the most dedicated activists cannot be all places at once, nor can they be expected to maintain constant vigilance 24x7x365. Maybe some can pull that off, but movements are made of Ordinary People, not superheroes.
And again practically, we none of us can be expected to defeat evil, either singly or collectively, or even have the will to do so. It's not even really necessary to try, when you get down to it: survival is really our prime directive as animals, and when you're trying to feed and shelter your family and whatnot, how can you really find the energy to fight for some larger moral issue?
There are a lot of folks online who stay informed, donate to candidates like Representative Giffords, and vote. That's all great, especially going to the polls when so many people think it won't change anything, but voting "correctly" isn't enough. As Thoreau said:
All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance...
There are many ways to effect political and social change. Being informed can be a part of it. Casting a ballot can be a part of it. Working for a good candidate so elections aren't left to the mercy of chance and well-funded hatemongers can be a part of it.
What isn't a part of it: passivity, impotent outrage, throwing up your hands and blaming politicians or other voters. Do something, then do it again, then do something else. Rinse. Repeat.
We all are busy. We all have lives. And all our busy lives are directly impacted by the system, including campaign rhetoric and political violence. Thus it's in our best interest to try mitigating their dangers.
Perhaps boycott the media who not only refuse to denounce the vitriol Sheriff Dupnik identified, but actively market it. Perhaps go a little further and destroy support for hate as my friend and hero, Spocko, does. Whatever, we all could afford to spend a little time in the wake of yesterday's violence focusing less on how other people have failed and more on how we can be a part of the solution.
Benjamin Franklin replied when asked what the Framers had created for themselves and their posterity, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” That means we all must be actively involved in the process, rather than passively allowing our elected proxies to do all the heavy lifting, and blaming them when things go wrong. We cannot guarantee we'll keep the Republic through engagement, but with passivity we're guaranteed to lose it.
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