Wednesday, June 11, 2008

on the subject of change...

"In our dreams, we have seen another world, an honest world, a world decidedly more fair than the one in which we now live. We saw that in this world there was no need for armies; peace, justice, and liberty were so common that no one talked about them as far-off concepts, but as things such as bread, birds, air, water, like book and voice. This is how the good things were named in this world. And in this world there was reason and goodwill in the government, and the leaders were clear-thinking people; they ruled by obeying. This was not a dream from the past, it was not something that came to us from our ancestors. It came from ahead, from the next step we were going to take. And so we started to move forward to attain this dream., make it come and sit down at our tables, light our homes, grow in our cornfields, fill the hearts of our children, wipe our sweat, heal our history. And it was for all. This is what we want. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now we follow the path to our true heart, to ask it what we must do. We will return to our mountains to speak in our own tongue, and in our own time.
Thank you to the brothers and sisters who looked after us all these days. May your foot-steps follow our path. Good bye.

Democracy!" ---from a letter to the peoples of Mexico, from Marcos, while hiding in the mountains.

This letter makes me want to address several points.

1) The idea that peace, liberty, and justice, are not just idealistic concepts, unable to be attained in unity. The idea that these concepts come from the voices of the people, not from dollars and cents, not from paper and pen. These are ideals to be lived...breathed! I am often chastised for my idealism in this area...."youthful ignorance" and the like. I find it absurd to shun or mock a person who believes that all men are truly created equal and should be afforded the right to live as such. To simply write off these goals, because there is no one visible answer, because there are too many mountains of opposition, is to roll over and die. To give up on the possibility of a life freely lived. My mind skips to Thoreau: "Law will never make a man free, it is men who must make the law free". If we keep overlooking injustice, in the name of the constitution, or in the name of convenience, or in the name of fear, or even cynicism, we overlook our greatest gift. The freedom of will, bestowed upon man, by either divinity or evolution, is what is at stake. To enslave a man to his economic position, to his race or religion, to his beliefs or his lack thereof....this is to enslave peace, liberty, and justice to these things. So what is the answer? Surely there cannot be one single beginning to live your life as a servant to these ideals.

2)The idea that our leaders should rule by obeying. My mind skips to Socrates. He believed, so greatly, that the laws of Athens were just, that he was willing to be imprisoned and die in obeying them. He refused to talk his way out of his sentence, knowing that to believe himself above the laws that sentenced him, would be to undermine his social contract to the state, going against the belief that the laws are just; that they nurture and educate its citizens. How novel a concept that our government should behave the same. We claim the Hellenic heritage, but fundamentally are against it. Our rulers believe to uphold the laws, they must be above them (as is seen time and time again in political scandal after political the litany of amendments and exceptions placed upon the freedoms of the presidency and its adjacent offices...). How can a people have respect for the laws that its makers refuse to uphold? How can we have equality, if our rulers do not see themselves as our equals? There will continue to be injustice in the laws as long as freedom from the law is seen as a privilege and not a crime.

3)The idea that our history may be healed. We are a country shadowed by a dark past....and the shadow only continues to creep further under our doors. We have tried to shut out the memory of our actions towards the native americans during the colonization of our country, to cover up from our consciousness the treatment of our colored, our women, our children (something like one in four children in the united states are born into poverty, more than that are without health care). Our history seems to only grow darker. Testimonies by soldiers from iraq reveal the deception our government places on the reality of the war. Women, children, civilians, and mosques are bombed without cause or care. Few are even phased by these facts anymore, and it still continues. I have to believe there is hope. There can be healing. We cannot right the wrongs of the past....but we can stop those in the future. There is nothing more powerful than your voice. With it, you can pull the tide of change closer to the shore....washing away the dark shadows and hopefully bringing with it a better life for those who will come after us. A better life for those not yet marred by conflict and agenda.

I cannot allow myself to believe these are youthful ideals, or ignorant blisses. I am often discouraged by the state our government is in....particularly during the bleak time of these primaries. But I have come to realize small changes can make a significant difference. Taking action towards the changes you believe in does not require a certain candidate. It only requires daily devotion to the cause, kindness yet firmness, and the shedding of fear that your voice wont matter or be heard.

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