November 2013 seems like a lifetime ago, yet the lessons I learned on my trip to NYC sunk in deep. It was an experience that changed my course, pushed me to move further from a city, further from the path that everyone expected me to take. After an amazing day adventuring in the city, I was reminded of the current status of the US militarization and our economic policies. In my attempt to capture the new One World Trade Center, I spied the US Coast Guard armed vessel following close behind. I realized our “world” here in the US has become one where we accept the Big Brother to keep us safe. But what are they keeping us safe from? Perhaps the truth…
I’ve been wondering for years now if I’m free. I believe so deeply in our freedom that I have “Give me liberty or give me death” tattooed on my back. And if you don’t know the quote, it was said at the Virginia Convention in 1775 by Patrick Henry, who was later stoned to death…so I guess he never was given that liberty he was hoping for.
Okay, side note, I decided to Google search that phrase & tattoo…mine is a bit more… classy, than these. But none the less, you get the idea. Freedom and liberty are important words to most Americans.
I was born a Democrat in Washington, D.C. and remember taking the subway as a young girl. We walked everywhere. I remember asking my grandmother why there were so many homeless people in DC. How could the whole federal government exist in a city where there were over 10,000 homeless men, women, and children. Is this the American Dream? I started talking about this to my friends and family. Asking questions about why we let people live on the streets when other’s have mansions in a handful of places across the world. I was told that I was thinking like a “communist”…that there is no reason people who work hard should have to give their money to people who were drug addicts or mentally ill…
I began to wonder if I was a communist, so I started reading up on this new label. I read excerpts of Marx and Engels, and well…that was about it. I realized that okay, sure, I guess I agree with some basic communist principles, it still relied on humanity, morals, altruism, which in my view, have been negated in our society. Another thing that I started to realize was that everyone who claimed to be a “capitalist” was living a lie. Okay, that’s not exactly fair…but seriously, that’s how I felt. The deeper I researched, the worse I felt about these labels. I wasn’t a communist, if anything, I was a pure capitalist, believing that the market should be free – but it wasn’t. And that is how we lost our freedom.
Capitalism relies on a free market – free meaning left to the hands of the consumers – or shall I say, demand drives the market, and the market meets that demand, and hence creating supply, and the cycle goes on and on (and is much more detailed than this) and you get the point. However, when the government, or interest groups, or just rich old men decide that the “free” market really needs to be manipulated to keep the rich richer, we start to loose the free-dom in capitalism.
We’ve destroyed the free market for the past century. From crop insurance and farm subsidies, to protecting the pharmaceutical companies, to the subprime mortgage crisis. We’ve taken a system that promotes freedom, hard work, entrepreneurship, and individuality to one that created a public health fiasco, a poor working class, and a plutocracy. We’re no longer living the good life. We’re working insane hours at rates that aren’t even close to being living wages. We pay ridiculous amounts for health insurance (and car, and life, and house, and whatever the hell else) for illnesses that we could prevent if we had a healthier lifestyle. We eat food that is fast, cheap, and easy – the opposite of eating for health and longevity. We’ve basically taken America from the land of the free to the land of the free-lunch because we won’t pay you enough to keep healthy food on the table for your kids, so we subsidize lunches that are usually no-bid contracts to huge food conglomerates who continue to poison our children both with food-like products and advertising.
Where do we find a happy medium between the ideological communism and our desire to be free, independent, and innovative? I have an idea…Democratic Socialism. Social Democracy. Bernie Sanders. Political engagement and an informed populous. Seems outrageous? It isn’t. The Democratic Socialist’s of America state that:
We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships. We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision, for building a majority movement that will make democratic socialism a reality in America. We believe that such a strategy must acknowledge the class structure of American society and that this class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population.
Sounds pretty good to me. I would love to see a well written response to why the above statement is “anti-American”, “communist”, or just, in general, wrong. There is always another side of the story, right? Well, in the recently released documentary “Requiem for an American Dream” which is a discussion with Noam Chomsky regarding our current state, the concentration of wealth and power in the United States.
I highly recommend checking out this movie. Or reading some of Chomsky’s work. He’s been actively engaged societal discourse since the 1950s. He’s may possibly be my role model. Along with Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, and Elizabeth Warren. Maybe I should take note and get more politically involved. I like to talk about it, but it stresses me out. I just want to live peacefully, in the moment, enjoying the bounty of the Earth and the ones I love. I think, fundamentally, that is what each of my role models fight for – my right to do that if I choose. And I fight for the same. Along with millions of Americans living in the United States, and billions of people living all around the world. We aren’t alone in our desire to see the world change.
Everything I know within and read without tell me that the way the US has changed isn’t in our best interest. It isn’t for the betterment of the whole world, not even Americans. It’s for the betterment of the stockholders, the richest of the rich, the 1%. If this election didn’t show us, then the years and years of an increasing wage gap, decreasing median income, reliance on social welfare programs, unemployment, and the list goes on. I think of my adventures and awakenings in Detroit as I read about the Flint (and now Michigan) water crisis. I wonder why we don’t learn more from our past? Is it because the history is written by the people in power? I think so.
I’m starting to ramble, and this has gone from a quick statement on Bernie Sanders and Democratic Socialism to a SAVE THE WORLD WITH ME plea. But seriously, please save the world with me? It happens by each of us instituting change in our daily lives. I do it by buying local food, thrifted clothes and housewares, planting a garden, cooking from scratch, sharing information with my community, reducing energy use, practicing alternative medicine, and voting in local, state, and federal elections. How do you influence the world?