Before the [civil] war, it was said ‘the United States are’, grammatically it was spoken that way and was thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war it was always ‘the United States is’ as we say today without being self-conscious at all.
~ Shelby Foote, historian
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” So begins the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. “We the People…” began with the idea of banding together in the spirit of democracy, in order to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” Oh, well! Could this period in which we now live represent the beginning of the death of the democratic experiment that was and is supposed to be the United States?
Charlottesville, 2017 – image by Andalou Agency/Getty Images
Our fundamental disagreement about what it means to be an “American”
The value of political parties
Reasons for why we maintain relatively intractable political positions and staunchly maintained polarization
How and why division in current U.S. politics is preventing democracy from functioning as it should
How the current political climate in the U.S. threatens to create a breaking point akin to the Civil War
That inequality and polarization have grown in tandem for the last few decades
That the intrusion of money into the electoral process is fueling voter discontent and the disjuncture between the public (actual constituents) and campaign donors (paying constituents)’.
As mentioned, the article is lengthy, not very sexy, but well worth the effort to understand what it presents.
Extending the Drutman article’s focus on political division, next week’s post– Death of Democracy – Part 2—frames this problem into a slightly more embedded historical context, reaching toward addressing our need not only for less division but toward more proactive socio-political solidarity.
While a follow-up piece around Tim Snyder’s book On Tyranny was planned for this week, given the tragedy unfolding in the Houston area (and the general tragedy occurring in the U.S. in general), perhaps we should pause and give thanks for some instances of Good and the people who initiated them.
This week, on her weekly Action List, under the “Acts of Gratitude” section, Jen Hofmann posted the following entries (appearing here verbatim, but be sure to check out Jen’s list).
Acts of Gratitude Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.(more…)
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do. ~ Helen Keller
Help! We Need Help!
Who is “We”? We is you, me, all of us. In particular, part of our community living in the Houston, Texas area is in need of assistance, now and in the near future. As of Tuesday, August 29, the hurricane might make land fall again on Wednesday in Louisiana. With heavy rain and possible tornadoes expected, more folks might be in need. Reach out and help create the community many of us want to believe in. Here are some opportunities.
Some have balked at the notion of donating to the Red Cross, proposing that the organization is not up to the task of large-scale disaster relief or that they do not actually need the money. Whether such claims are true or not, folks still need our help (here-now and in the near future). Second, we need to express, if only to ourselves, that We are the those who will offer such assistance when anyone of us needs it.
Beyond the Red Cross
The New York Times has put together a list of other places to help. Take a look.
ABC News (with commercials) offers this encouragement as well as other opportunities to help.
In case you missed it, you can simply text “HARVEY” to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross.
Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true. ~ Adyashanti
Naomi Klein: “The worst is yet to come!”
What happens when disaster strikes? What do we do when all normalcy ceases? To whom do we turn when events like the recent Manchester bombing, the Paris attack or events like those on the morning of September 11th, 2001 in New York occur? In her new book, No is Not Enough, activist and author Naomi Klein encourages us to be prepared for such disasters—which she calls “shock” events—not so much for the event itself but for likely actions by the U.S. government in the wake of these occurrences.
In the video below, Amy Goodman of DemocracyNow!interviews Naomi Klein about her book and the general proposal that in the wake of a cataclysmic event, the U.S. government is likely to invoke a series of actions designed to tighten control of the general public. Under the guise of national security relative to a shock event, the government is likely to suspend civil liberties, human rights and the right to privacy. (Part 2 of the interview begins at approximately the 2:20 minute mark and lasts about 15 minutes). In addition to the usual question and answer format, the interview presents a video within the video. In the internal video, produced by the Intercept, Naomi describes a five step preparedness toolkit. She urges us to anticipate inevitable crises, at which times we need to be prepared to mobilize rather than comply with the government’s attempts to contain us—to keep us in our homes, for instance, “for our own safety”. We need to be mindful of the history of the previous U.S. government’s uncharacteristically freedom-destroying responses such as internment of Japanese-Americans during WWI, deportation of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the early 1930’s and abandonment of freed slaves in the wake of the Civil War. (more…)
We introduced Guisepe Spadafora, the Tea Man, several months ago. Guisepe and his traveling Tea Bus continue to spread hope, to lend a hand and to spur community organization in several western U.S. states. If you are not familiar with his work, take a look at his website or the videos and news coverage of his endeavor (which has been on-going for more than a decade!).
Guisepe is putting together his plans for summer 2017 and would like our input as noted below.
I want to know where we should visit, whom we should see, and where we should serve tea.
Second, I am looking for a place to call home base for the summer in Colorado. Where can Edna, myself, and Ally plug into that wants good company, a handy man, and a community organizer?
Thirdly, I am looking for a good project or two to plug into for a month or two. I would love to help fix or build anything, especially if it has to do with small-scale, mobile, off-grid, low-cost, DIY, eco-friendly, and reclaimed projects.
Guisepe is the kind of person who infuses the phrase “we, the people” with real, tangible meaning. Thank you, Guisepe!
If you really want to help us become Us, explore Guisepe’s story. Take it as a model of personal initiative in the name of us all. If nothing else, you might simply find the inspiration that sparks an idea of change for yourself.
Previously, we presented the work of Square Roots Grow, an innovative urban farming initiative operating in Brooklyn, New York. This week, we consider the general field of food-related innovation in the form of “vertical farming” and what might be called “extreme or radical localization”. (more…)
“The best ideas offer solid ground to stand on while the earth is shaking; they are guiding lights in the darkest tunnels; they offer an unmatched refuge from the chaos of the ever-raging storm.” ~James Radcliffe