Apr 19, 2013

Time For A Change

I just hit send on another petition for a left wing position. I have probably signed at least sixty petitions so far this year and it's only April.  This is the equivalent of attending twenty demonstrations, isn't it?  Okay, maybe only ten demonstrations.  Well, if you include all the drive time, maybe one very short demonstration at which I have all the coffee I want, can adjust the temperature to my liking, occasionally check what else is going on on Facebook, and go get a snack from the refrigerator.

Do you receive all these requests to 'Sign the Petition' like I do? The rate at which petitions hit my Facebook feed and my inbox is accelerating; I'm up to eight or nine a day on FB and another five or six through email. And I cyber-sign them.  I type my name, address, and email into the little boxes provided, or, if the petition comes from an organization I have a history with, the boxes are already filled with my information and all I have to do is hit 'Sign the Petition' and it's done.  Why don't I feel like I've actually taken a stand on anything?  Maybe because this is just too darn easy. And not the least bit threatening.

Do you think the petitions have any effect on politicians?   Are they running around the halls of Congress shouting to one another "Don't anger the 'clickers! Vote the wrong way and a thousand angry people hit send.  It's horrifying!"  I don't think so. They have pages and support staff that read all their email, so they probably only get a daily tally. And they know no one is actually going to show up and get in their faces.

Like Barack Obama, I used to be a community organizer.  I spent five years of my youth knocking on doors on the near west side of Cleveland and asking people to come to meetings and demonstrations, to meet their neighbors, to see that they weren't alone, to feel the strength in numbers. In high school and college, I volunteered for United Farm Workers.  I picketed grocery and liquor stores, handing out flyers that asked customers to boycott the stores until the owners stopped purchasing products produced with scab labor.  I took other stands too, and took action. I was active and involved and out in the community asking other people to participate too.  What happened to me?

I'll turn 60 years old this year.  I think I think I'm just too old and too tired.  But of course that's ridiculous.  How old and tired were the greats, Pete Seeger, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez?   Compared to them, I'm in diapers.

I'm wondering what happened to all of you, too.  Have you seen the demonstrations in Europe?  They really know how to throw a demonstration over there.  Hundreds of thousands of people fill the streets. Over here we get five lonely looking people with signs asking the rest of us to honk if we support them.  I'd be embarrassed to join them. The last demonstration I attended was one opposing our impending invasion of Iraq. Now, that was a damned impressive demonstration.  It was also ten years ago.

As the vote for stricter gun control failed Wednesday, an issue I feel strongly about, I was disappointed, and considering the state of the Republic party in the US, not very surprised. I was also ashamed. I had hit send on a few gun control petitions but I hadn't put myself out there, hadn't called Democrats in other districts, hadn't done any of the hard work that needs to be done. And a lot of you hadn't either. It's time for us 'older' folks to get off our duffs and take back our country. If we won't do it to prevent our children from being shot and killed, what will we do it for?