Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Water Pistol Man

Water pistol man full of ammunition,
Putting out fires on a world wide mission,
Did you ever stop to squirt the flowers in your own backyard?
--Michael Franti

I used to care. I mean I thought a lot about politics and what I should do personally to make the world a better place. I was far from perfect -- I'm American and I love my conveniences, and I rely upon fossil fuels, and I don't do enough to stop wars around the world that we support with our money and our lifestyles. I see an unjust world and I've felt wrong about it and my part in it for a long time.

I suppose that is what made me a liberal. I would listen to talk radio and get angry. So many people calling in on their cellphones while driving in their SUVs or big trucks to complain about liberals for caring about the state of the world and raising their taxes. As angry as I was, I could never match their contempt for those they called liberals. And there I was, a bleeding heart liberal who cared about people dying around the world in our name and about the environmental havoc we were wreaking on our world.

Now, we are in a war in Iraq. The Democrats are in control in congress and we were suppose to be making progress in bringing our troops home. There was a lot of hope in the air in November 2006. What we have instead is an increase in the number of troops and a further escalation of the War. What should be obvious to us is that we have no intention of leaving Iraq and letting Iraqis decide what should be done with their oil. The number one benchmark is that the Iraqi Parliament must pass the oil law allowing foreign ownership of their oil. We are doing the multinationals biddings in this war. As usual, it is all about profit and these profits put our congresspeople into their positions and promise to keep them there as long as they continue to do the bidding of the primary wealth holders of the world. So, we are not leaving Iraq anytime soon. We will have a presence there until the oil is gone. We might not call it an occupation at some point in the future, but the Iraqi people will suffer under our influence and for our lifestyles for many years to come. So, Why am I not part of the Netroots working the channels for change, naively campaigning for the democrats to defund the war, or marching on Washington all by my lonesome intent upon attaining change.

Because I no longer care. I cannot keep caring for the lives of others around the world. I only have a water pistol and I cannot put out all the fires - let alone one of them. So, now, I grow a garden and I don't own a cellphone and I'm not hooked up to cable and I drive a Toyota Echo. I know, I am still, plenty plugged into the system. I have my job to pay back debt through student loans. I still use gasoline and buy it cheap when you consider the lives lost to get that oil to America. I have way more stuff than any one person needs. But, slowly I am unplugging myself from the pecuniary economy. I am not going to rely upon experts to tell me how to feel or how to vote for different initiatives around the world. I only see a small part of the world and I know how I can make that small part a better place for me, my family and the surrounding community which remains small in comparison to the global world we think about today that has not gotten one bit smaller despite the technological innovations we have today. I can grow my garden and reduce the amount of fuel for the transportation of food around the world. I don't use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. I don't watch the news anymore and I read the papers with the eyes of a skeptic.

Some experts accuse my withdrawal from the political realms of the antiwar voices as a sign of apathy that ends up contributing to the war effort. And other experts accuse the antiwar voices as giving hope to the enemies in Iraq and endangering the lives of our soldiers. I am tired of listening to either side. I don't want to be a part of it anymore. I am going to reduce my footprint on the world and stop supporting the corporations and the financial wealth holders who profit off of the killing. I am not going to listen to the opinions of experts informing of conditions at locations on the planet that are far removed from my community. The world will be a better place when we trust that local communities around the world know how best to use their local resources for the benefit of their local community. I became interested in economics because I believed that money would explain a lot about the forces that guide policy in America. I still believe that and any advice that suggests following the money is good advice.

But Real wealth is not money. Wealth is influence and the control over resources. Wealth is synonymous with power. And we allow a few people to have power over us by giving them influence and letting the idea of money and our financial security be the prime motivator for our lives. Somehow we have to take back that power. If I can (or if you can) take back the control over the food you put into your body, I and anyone else, takes the first step toward redistributing wealth in this country. Redistributing wealth through Democratic initiatives won't solve the underlying problems in our society. Instead, we have to take back the land from the corporations and grow our own food in ways that are environmentally and ecologically sound. We can do this by taking care of a piece of land we own that is under our care. A garden is the first step.

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