Responsibilities of Activists and Citizens

Warning, poorly written.

Our responsibility as activists

I try to do good as an individual, be informed, make good decisions based on that information and my values etc.  It seems like other people try to do the same thing too, but I think maybe I have been going about it in the wrong way.  I have been trying to be informed across the board and make decisions from my own knowledge and values.  Instead, I think maybe I have to find organizations and groups I can trust.

These groups would be the ones who do the footwork for my knowledge gaining and decision making.  Ideally they would get the information, filter it and share the most important with me so I can stay up to date along with vouch for certain other organizations and actions which will help forward the cause of that organization and support my own values.  That’s a massive responsibility and amount of trust in others, but maybe that will be the way to strengthen the social movements that support these causes.  What if everyone who really cared about the environment and focused on it also worked with groups who tried to get social justice and vice-versa; sharing information, teaching and giving recommendations for how to act and what to buy and who to support etc.  I’m beginning to wonder if trying to go at everything as individuals is not the way to get the change that some people want, or that I want.  Maybe the Occupy Movement was actually onto something in trying to take everything on all at once.  Just the needed community, communication and sharing wasn’t there, or wasn’t as strong as it needed to be.

It seems that what activists need is the ability to focus and someone who can then focus all of the other foci in order to cause the change that is wanted, for environmental policy, for justice and everything else.  As members of the activist community it seems that we need to not only focus on one specific thing to be able to do good work for it, we also need to make sure to reach out to others and create strong networks with them and take responsibility for the information we share with those others so that they have the right information that allows them to also work on their own focus and help your own important goals too.  Maybe it is time we try to see the elephant in the room instead of just our aspect.

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Somewhat Random “Letter”

Dear Congress Members,

I am a simple citizen of the United States with a few comments and recommendations which I have formed mostly through living in the U.S., talking with others, reading and attempting to get an education.  I ask that you at least have a staff member take the time to read this entire email, if only to stroke my own ego, although it would be better if the congress member them-self read this and maybe I could convince them of changing something since what we have currently does not appear to be as efficient as we require in this world now or, and this would be even better than anything mentioned prior to this, I can get a thorough response which helps to enhance my understanding of my native country’s culture, politics and situation.

The format of this letter is going to basically be a laundry list with issues that I find and what seems like a good solution in my limited knowledge.

  1. If I have managed to get you this far, I won’t waste your time with the whole list.  The way I see it, this is by far the absolute most important issue in the United States right now everything else follows this. Period.  This issue is the want of caring for politics in U.S. Society.  The Cato Institute even claims that this is a basic fact in the U.S., “We have a different history and political culture than most of Europe. Government is smaller in the United States, and politics matters less to the society and its citizens.”[i] The percent of voters during elections maxed out just under 60% of all eligible voters in 2012.[ii]  The reasons for this numbness to politics are various, multi-faceted.  Most of them are relatively unimportant too, especially for this letter.  But, let us be honest, in a country such as the U.S. which prides itself on being a representative government which receives its power from the people, this is kind of a pathetic turnout for elections and I think this is one of the many symptoms of a disease in U.S. society.  Do not worry I will not be dragging this discussion out any further, I will just go on through to what I think may help.
    1. First off, make Election Day an outright federal holiday where as many places as possible are shut-down.  Then no one can complain they don’t have time that is certain.  (On this note I’d recommend moving election day to Wednesday so it makes it harder for people to just make a long weekend out of the extra day off, yes we can change this, tradition can be just as temporary as a day)
    2. Second, some people may not vote because they don’t want to sign-up for the draft, maybe we could consider changing that? I gladly put my name in so that I could serve my country and vote but others may not be so willing to go to war which I understand and feel should be accepted.
    3. Let’s see, oh yeah, Get. Rid. Of. The. College. That Electoral College is a hold-over from the society of our founding fathers (as is the entire Constitution, but let’s start with baby-steps).  The Electoral College disheartens a lot of people and gives them a convenient excuse to not vote.  So, since this is a useless organization anyway why not take away the excuse?  I know the college has only gone against the popular vote about two times in the history of the U.S. but others don’t and won’t listen to that so, just get rid of it and done.
    4. These appear to be the best you, as a representative can do, besides just doing the usual GOTV stuff, the rest of this solution lies on the individuals in the U.S. but sending an email to 317,292,487 people,[iii] some of which do not actually have email accounts, is much harder to do than to a relative handful of representatives in the government.  Getting that part of the solution is going to take a massive effort.  If we could work together on trying to get that effort started the rest of this letter will be moot and I will consider any further reading a bonus.
    5. Education, education, education.  Remember why the signers of the Constitution created the Electoral College? They didn’t want the uneducated people to get control of the government.  I will be assuming you’re still uncomfortable with getting rid of the Electoral College at this point, well, if you educate everyone what would be the use of the College?  Anyway, I am a student in Canada right now because I am a good capitalist and have gone out of the U.S. to get an education of equal worth for half the price and I am lucky enough to have parents who can support my travels and have good enough credit for my student loans.
      1. The price of education is absolutely absurd, as is how much money presidents (rather, CEO’s) of some universities make and simply all of the money that universities throw around on various things.  This is sort of the pink elephant in the room it seems and I am going to talk about it, especially since it is hanging out in my room and taking up space on my shoulders.  So let us quit pretending that private universities are going to fix all of our problems and get some real public universities, you know the ones that the public can actually go to and afford without having to bury themselves in loans.  If that requires more taxes, so be it. (I want to grind my ax on taxes too but let us work together on getting people to vote first.)
      2. Money in government, yes I know this one is trite, but it is a serious issue as you like to proclaim so often in your own speeches.  Seriously though, money gets moved around way too much and way too easily in this government.
      3. The entire news media.  If you do not think there is something seriously wrong with this group of organizations and how the U.S. deals with the news you definitely need to stop and really think about what you see on the news on a daily basis.  The violence, the pointlessness and long-term memory loss of most U.S. news is astounding and simply angers me.  Think about Syria, when was the last time any news did a story on how that was developing?  How about Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran?  Besides deaths of U.S. soldiers (and even that is left out often) you never hear of any of these countries.  Know anything about what is going on in the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Greece, Sudan, South Africa or frankly any other country on the planet, does anyone have any clue as to what is going on in them in the U.S.?  Probably not since the news certainly never talks about it.  This one could definitely go on forever but I think I will leave it at that for now so onto the recommendations.
        1. Put power back in the groups that put laws into effect for the radio, television etc. the internet is currently entirely unrestricted and I am going to stay out of that for now besides saying that you have to make sure to keep media conglomerates from taking control of that too.
        2. Now the fun part, writing up and passing these laws that will force news groups to give equal time to people on all sides of an opinion, just that making sure that each side of any argument is properly represented I think will make huge changes to politics and life in the U.S. if you don’t believe me, give it a shot anyway it is far from the only time the U.S. has been an experimental place.
        3. Then simply limit the violence, or at least we need to come up with a way to prevent children from seeing the violence.  According to books by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman “On Killing” and “On Combat” the major organizations representing doctors, psychologists, parents and pediatricians has written statements and done research projects and found basically without a doubt that violence on TV and in video games causes children to be more violent and, most importantly, getting the children to turn off the TV and video games led to less violent behavior.  Maybe make a PSA about this so that the media cannot cut it out of the news stories like the tobacco industry once did with studies on cigarettes.
        4. Finally, let us actually get the airwaves public again, make sure the public is aware that their airwaves are public and always will be, along with how to make use of those airwaves and networks in our nation.  We also need to catch up with other developed nations and start putting money into our public broadcast associations like NPR.  Do not make this something you guys can work with every time a budget discussion comes up, make it a constant percentage or something that does not change too often, otherwise the budgets for NPR and others will end up right back where they are now.
        5. Frankly, these are the main issues and about the only way you, the representatives can really do anything for these issues amongst others in the U.S.  in the end though, you are simply a representative and even a bad representative still represents in a way and I feel that this is especially true in the U.S. and the inability and lax-ness of representatives in the government and seeming disconnection from the rest of the country comes from a serious illness within the U.S. which laws will never be able to fix.  This illness is where all of the true solutions lie, but the representatives cannot do much about it until we, the citizens of the United States, decided to change.  The laws only follow the people so it is time for the people to actually take the lead and start working towards the life and government they want.

Becoming Yourself

“It takes a village to raise an idiot.”

Why does it only take a village to raise an idiot but not a person?

Only through community can one become an individual.  This is a key thing that no one seems to think about in life. I think that this is an entirely under-appreciated aspect of life as an individual if you’re a person who enjoys the individual.  Being a U.S. citizen it is almost my civic duty to support the individual entire, just we aren’t ever told how to do that.

Anyway, think about it, throughout your life you get told to be yourself, live your own life, take the road less traveled, etc. etc. etc.  But how do you take that first step?  That leap of faith?  You need to have firm ground from which to start it seems, in other words, in order to jump off the cliff you need a steady cliff.

This jump is where the individual is made in my opinion, where a person is swept off their metaphorical feet of their community and forced to build a new ground below them.  In order to build this new ground though, the individual has to know what it feels like though.  They have to know the firmness of the ground, the warmth or chill of it, even the rosebushes on this ground.

This idea, this need of an original anchor for someone to let go off in order to be an individual, has never been directly addressed in my education, to my knowledge.  It may have been dealt with in some ways and just gone over my head, but for me this discussion simply has not seriously been had in my life.  It is just assumed that I can become my own individual without anything to start with.  I couldn’t possibly be the individual I am today though without having had my original community to live in, my tiny town that is barely ever on a map and a family that was stable and loving.  This little community gave me a ground upon which I could take my first steps, this community gave me both the ground and the fuel to later on take some massive jumps to separate myself from the community, break myself off from all of the habits, thoughts, prejudices and assumptions of this community.  But this community also gave me a sense of life and knowing that there can be something beneath my feet if I look for it or make it myself.  I think it has paid off for me.

It is hard to find this community though, children live in broken homes, apartment complexes where one does not even know their own neighbor and there is no sense of any type of history to the family, to their lives, to their home.  They essentially have no ground upon which to stand, no anchor.  All they have is free-fall.  People have “individuality” but there aren’t too many individuals to be found due to this lack of original jumping off point for the individual (I think anyway).  If this type of thing isn’t a serious issue, I probably never will know what one is.

In order to fix this though is going to require a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of re-thinking on the part of U.S. citizens.  There is no cure-all or immediate fix to this as we like to imagine exists for getting healthy and any other problem we come upon in this country.  It will take a concerted effort to come to understanding “self-interest rightly understood” (as Tocqueville called it) again.

The first step is going to be teaching ourselves self-interest rightly understood again.