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The Road to Resilience

Our task remains essentially the same as it would have been if Bernie Sanders had been elected President.  Sanders made us to understand that nothing he was espousing would happen without a major grass roots effort to force our elected officials to act.  I imagine we all thought it might be a whole lot easier with Bernie in the seat of power, but we weren’t being totally honest with ourselves.  Assuming (hoping) we are not insane enough to elect Trump, we will have a President Clinton, who has already verbally supported much of what we would like to see.  As Roosevelt suggested long ago, we need to make her do it.  It was not Bernie that made Hillary move to the left; it was us (and not just Bernie supporters).  It will be us, again, who will hold her there.  

When Obama was elected, we hoped he’d fix everything by himself, but he strayed badly from the promises of his campaign.  Single payer health care was never considered, no Wall Street perpetrators were ever prosecuted, the Iraq and Afghan wars continue, free trade treaties have not been renegotiated, fossil fuel subsidies are still being handed out, whistle blowers continue to be prosecuted, and illegal immigrants deported in record numbers.  We didn’t hold him, or Congress, to those promises, so they didn’t happen.

The divisive nature of backing individual candidates actually makes it harder for us all to come together on so many issues that the polls show we all want.  In my opinion, Clinton and Sanders supporters differed mostly on their assessment of the character of their candidates.  There is very little daylight between them on most issues.  Even many Republicans want to get the money out of politics and make our elected officials accountable to us rather than the 1%.  We can form a coalition on that and make it a “make or break” issue for any candidate of either party.  We might find that we can form a coalition so deep and broad that we could start a really viable third party.  Never say never.  In the coming days, we will be considering whether to reform the Democratic Party from within or abandon it.  The Republicans have already gotten started on that.

The other day, I got a copy of The Nation in the mail that was more like the size of a large catalog.   It was the 150th anniversary issue and included articles from 1865 up to the present.  Not much has changed. The same talk about all the wealth at the top, the politicians bought, the game rigged, the minorities persecuted, the unions suppressed.  I can’t say it wasn’t a bit depressing.  On the other hand, there has been marginal but steady improvement.  At the turn of the last century, journalists were talking about women’s suffrage and the 8-hour day.  So, although we may be harnessed to this cyclical wheel of woe, we are slowly improving.  Not exactly the Age of Aquarius but not the Road to Hell either.  One thing today stands out as different:  the urgency of trying to avoid climate change.  Are we really getting wiser?  Could we someday make a quantum leap and evolve into truly enlightened beings?  Who knows?  It isn’t like we have all the time in the world though.  Nature routinely comes down on unruly species, eliminating or greatly reducing them to restore the balance.  Climate change may be Nature’s hammer this time.

All of this leads me to the conclusion that, if we want an orderly and prosperous house, we need to do our chores.  Nobody likes chores, and we would just as soon have somebody else do them for us.  But having someone else do them for us has many down sides.  It doesn’t allow us to fully appreciate the consequences of our actions.  It means that the job done may not be to our liking.  It makes us less aware of and less in tune with our surroundings, both immediate on up to the universe at large.  It deprives us of the opportunity for a wide variety of creative acts.

So, let’s do our chores.  Besides taking care of ourselves and our immediate environs, and all the critters that live there, we need to keep an eye on larger community, state, national, and world arenas, and make sure that things are being done properly there.  Yes, we need to cultivate our inner policy wonk (Arrgh!).  Like everything else, it can be a pain in the butt until we get used to it.  Practice leads to expertise, and practicing expertise can be fun!  Let’s all resolve to do the work that needs to be done.  Securing a future for our children lacks only our will to do so.