At the root of our problems today is the failure of our economic system. The last century saw us convert from primarily a rural society to an urban, industrial one. We changed from living in small communities where we raised our own food, to cities where we had to buy our food, instead. The small community ethics of looking out for one another were replaced with competition for jobs, and material possessions determined one’s status. Corporations, as the distributors of wealth, became powerful enough that corporate interests determined public policies. The value of people diminished to what they could do for the company. The environment and resources were relegated to merely materials needed to feed industrial needs. Unprovoked invasions and military operations in other countries were justified by corporate need/greed for resources (oil). As always happens, military aggression ignites civilian resentment and resistance, and feeds terrorism against the aggressor.
The problem now is that (1) automation and (2) moving jobs out of the country for cheap labor mean there are nowhere near the number of paying jobs for everyone, and many jobs that are available do not pay a living wage. This is the root of so many of the problems we are facing today.
Millions of people moved to the city for jobs for the income needed to survive, then the jobs disappeared.
In times such as these, those few who have economic and political power manipulate people’s anxieties by blaming “others” for their problems. Throughout history there have been many classifications of people as “others”–based upon skin color or religion or economic status or social class or identity. The reason this happens again and again is because it is so effective. By creating false fears (because the “others” are not the problem), attention is diverted from the actual problems, which are the exploitation of people and the Earth by individual and corporate greed.
There are two major changes needed to correct this.
First, we need to change our own mindsets, to recognize that materialism is a false promise for a good life. We need to be reminded that it is love for one another, and belonging to a caring community that provide us a meaningful life. By opting out of the corporate/industrial economic model, we remove its power over us.
Secondly, we have to find and create alternative models to meet our basic needs. We need to return to growing our own food, and protect our water supplies, so our survival is not tied to a wage earning job. We need to obtain our own renewable energy source, so we are not dependent upon paying a utility for power. We need to create community based schools, taught by community members, that teach real life skills by having students be involved in the community, not forced into mind numbing classrooms. We need to develop independent sources of actual news, and means of communication.
By rejecting materialism, and embracing each other and our communities, we fix a broken economic system. And we reject the fearmongering of the idea of “others” when we see each other as “us” instead.
The incoming Republican administration is apparently fully committed to trying to prop up this failing economic system, and to the idea of “others” to divert our attention. We will break that power by embracing each other and rebuilding our communities.
I think the gathering of Native American tribes in North Dakota to protect the water, their living example of community and respect for Mother Earth, and commitment to the values of caring for all of our relations with the integrity of nonviolence, even in the face of the violence of the police state, have captured the admiration and hope of so many of us, as we recognize their example as the just way forward for us all.
We need to turn our attention to building community where we are. We need to connect with our neighbors, and find ways for everyone to contribute to the local community. Community gardens are one key. We need to provide examples of ways to recognize people’s contributions in ways other than money. We need to build Beloved Communities everywhere.