I promise to protect my home planet by working locally to stop fossil fuel infrastructure development and instead build a sustainable, compassionate, clean energy, local food community of humans focused on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
America has been designed to be a place for elites to thrive. From the beginning we’ve been governed by the white landowners and since then, the system has been pretty skillfully created to keep the powerful in power and the masses fighting among themselves, blaming each other for all their strife (though that is largely generated by the powerful).
We begin with the economic segregation which assures everyone stays in their place. Your circumstances in life are largely determined by the location of your birth. As it goes, the United States is better than many of the developing countries which it continues to plunder and manipulate for its own empirical “good”. But even in the U.S., where you are born determines your stress levels and available community resources. It can mean the difference between having a grocery store that sells fresh produce and quality meats and one that only provides nutritionally dead highly processed items. It determines whether you will grow up surrounded by nature or black tarred streets or high rises. It determines the level of pollution around your home. It determines whether local law enforcement looks like you or targets you. And it sets what kind of school will be available for you to develop your skills.
Though the demographics of the U.S. is changing fast, still today, the typical business owner is a 50-year-old white male. About 80% of businesses are owned by whites and about 65% of all businesses are male-owned.~ 2017 WaPo article
When it comes to the educational system, created to populate the factories and firms of the largely white male owners, there is much diversity. Today public schools are less concerned with truly educating and more concerned with instilling belief in a hierarchical system of competition between peers while training the young to adhere to rigid rules that restrict behavior as guided by their adult overlords. [Yes, I know there are many great teachers out there who are compassionate to their students, but I would challenge anyone to provide evidence of a system that allows for outspokenness in students in our K-12 schools. Heck, sometimes it’s difficult for college students to speak out freely.] Dead are critical thinking and any idea of a salon. Instead we learn via worksheets, rote memorization, and regurgitation of facts as presented by authoritarian texts. [This rant doesn’t even give consideration to the massive addition of police to our schools and the apparent apathy regarding the safety of our students from shooters (outside of sickening drills that do nothing but terrorize our young) as that is a whole ‘nother nest of bees.]
Then we look at the economic factors that assure wages remain so low that most Americans have little time for anything but earning enough to feed, clothe, and house themselves. And yes, I mean that. Many Americans have to make decisions about whether to seek medical care or eat, buy the needed Rx or new shoes for the school year, feed the kids or feed yourself. Median income in 2017 was $77,713 – which means a max of about $5K/month. [Median figures by race: Whites – $65K Blacks – $41K, Hispanic – $50K, Asian – $81K – good to be a Crazy, Rich Asian, eh?] Many families are spending over $1K for both housing and insurance taking 40% of the funds for that alone. The remaining 60% needs to cover gasoline, electric, food, internet (or not), doctor appts & medications, phone, clothes, shoes, water, fees. And most of the costs of these things has increased far outpacing the rise in wages. [And don’t get me started about the HUGE wealth divide this has created and the resulting ramifications.]
But even when citizens DO have the smarts, the time, and the resources to stay civically involved, they are stymied by the bureaucracy of our government, not knowing who to contact for what concerns. [It’s hard enough to get the right number for the Assistant County Engineer working on the road project that just went south in front of your house… It’s not the Streets Department, it’s not the County “Shop”, no… it’s the third number you finally reach.] If one sues for recompense of sufferings, he is closed out from the costly legal system by large corporations that can afford to tie up cases until challengers go broke. Or the Corps pay off complaints rather than change business practices. And now, if you plan to speak out in protest over a pipeline, the Republican President wants to assure you face a 20-year sentence in prison.
So, through my own dumb luck to be born in the circumstances that I was, the privilege provided to me by growing up middle class in the Midwest during the late 20th century, and some bit of work and thinking of my own, I have the smarts, the time, and the resources to be a full-time activist. As such, I feel the best thing I can do for my fellow beings is try my best to save the environment ~ the basis for human habitation ~ from those out to destroy it… at least in my little corner of the planet.
Wish me luck. And cross your fingers I can stay out of jail.