Sunday, August 21, 2005

beyond left v. right-- a new people's agenda

it seems so obvious to me (said the madman) that the political distinction of left v. right is principally a tool for the power elite of this nation to divide and conquer an increasingly dissatisfied populace. heaven forefend that the people should become united in common cause--- that would be messy indeed for the power mongers, wouldn't it? and we do have common cause, make no mistake (if we would but recognize it as such). of course, who can say if this dialectic was intentionally designed to this divide-and-conquer end; regardless of its actual origin, it is clear that those with a grip on the reins of power are intimately familiar with the use this tool.

the spin doctors work overtime to keep a relative balance (yes, even in these times of seeming conservative advancement--- there must be some appearance of struggle, after all!) between the so-called left and right (which nomenclature, as I recall, has its origins in the post-revolutionary french government's seating arrangements; our present-day equivalent is red and blue, from the election maps' reflection of electoral vote distribution). as long as there is some present or looming struggle to capture the short attention spans of the consumerites, the power wielders are free to do as they please. by the time the real story hits cnn and fox, the people will long ago have lost interest and some small show of wrist-slapping against the appropriate parties will put the "issue" to rest for good and all.

does your cynicism know no bounds? you ask.

probably not. but as anyone with a passing acquaintance with psychology will tell you, those who cry humbug the loudest are very likely to be the most dogged idealists. and I am an idealist. I still believe we, the people, can get ourselves out of this mess. I only hope we can avoid bloody revolution. it's time for us to evolve to more mature strategies of change.

and change we need. it's painfully apparent that the transformation we hunger for will not come from our so-called leaders. we must cease to await their leadership since they've no intention of leading us anywhere but into debt to finance their power-mongering activities (read: wars for oil, global expansion of consumer markets, rapacious consumption of global natural resources to feed the consumption machine, concentration of wealth in a power elite). the duty falls on the people, as it always has, as it always will. our complacency and deliberate ignorance are our worst enemies. we must arm ourselves with information and unite--- despite the spin docs' rhetoric that there are two so widely different camps of thought that we can never agree. that is simply a bald-faced lie. our common concerns and interests far outweigh our differences and always have. as a nation born in struggle we are, unfortunately if understandably, habitually spoiling for a fight. fifteen hundred years after arthur we still believe might makes right. we love nothing so much as a fight and see nothing at all odd in an election (whether for a candidate or an issue) that is determined by a single vote cast for one side or another of stridently opposed positions. how ludicrous, how insane is that?! holy plebiscite, we need some consensus counseling!


here's where we can start: this whole fossil fuel economy has got to go. it's bad for the environment, it's bad for our health, it's bad for the economy, and, in case you haven't been watching the news for the past two years, it's doin' a wicked bad number on global stability and international relations. so let's show our "leaders" what's what. let us ourselves commit to and undertake the transition--- indeed, the transformation--- toward an energy economy based in renewable sources.

step 1: conservation. a bad word here in america, as I've previously mentioned. well, get over it. it is in our power to create enormous impact upon the business-as-usual, blood-for-oil-for-SUVs cycle with terribly little effort on our part. I'm not talking about a sudden investment in biodiesel or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. I'm talking about good old-fashioned conservation: carpooling and ridesharing (yes, you can sacrifice some convenience without ruining your life; just get over your bad self!), using mass/public transit, better trip planning. hey, if it helps, imagine that you're pumping the blood of american servicemen and civilian iraqis into your tank when you fill up--- you might as well be.

step 2: investment. I mean the next time you buy a car, choose something that gets over, say, 25 mpg, and weighs less than a house. Ooooo! Scandalous! my 20-year-old car gets up to 40 mpg. sure, I'm not in a financial position to buy a new car just at present, but maybe you are. and if you are, you should know that you vote with your dollars--- and far more powerfully, some might argue, than you do with your hanging chad. buy things that move you--- let alone us, collectively--- toward a way of thinking that gives higher priority to conserving resources (especially fossil fuels) and that reminds you that consumption has limits in a limited world.

step 3: agitate for change. on the off chance that there are some well-intentioned politicians out there somewhere, get to know your elected representatives. go ahead, reach out and give 'em a little hell. They're paid to take it from you (especially the ones in washington, who keep giving themselves raises and the cherriest lifetime health benefits you could possibly imagine). do you know what's going on up there on capitol hill? the lobbyists comically outnumber the members of congress. they just line up and grease palms and, ooo, look, another piece of pork barrel legislation slips right through on greasy rails. write, write, write! start with your congresspeople, but don't stop there: newspaper editors love to hear from you! so do public servants who are not elected. write them all! they love to send back status quo, party-line responses on cool letterhead. but if enough letters get to them, things have been known to happen. even good things! think positively!

okay, let's start there....


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