Today, my friend Liz posted about support for the Autism society because her son has autism. It was a beautifully written post that was informative and supportive for other parents of autistic children. Earlier in the day, my friend Val had posted the story of Illinois governor Bruce Rauner cutting funds for autism help. It’s the beginning of Autism Awareness Month, for goodness sake! Really, he couldn’t have found a better time to announce this?
I, in my cynical mood, sent Val’s post to Liz, who shared it with the world. In the middle of the conversation with Liz, a word popped into my head that I haven’t thought for years: Revolution!!!! I typed the words to her from an old Jefferson Airplane song called “Volunteers of America” and my college room-mate used to sing it at the top of his lungs in our off-campus apartment. The lyrics? “Start the revolution! Start the revolution!”. In the years before seminary, that word, “revolution” would roll off my tongue like the apocalypse rolls off the tongue of fundamentalist Christians today — like some sort of joyous threat. In my case, it was political and in the latter, religious but the idea is the same — hope of a completely new era where love prevailed and people got their needs met without having to beg, happening immediately, like as of yesterday.
I was amazed that I 1) had the thought in my head now and 2) had forgotten it for years. Cynicism and despair and the political climate had beaten the thought out of me. Reagan (the great saint of the right and beginning of the end for the left) was in 1980!!! So, for 35 years now, I haven’t thought of revolution.Today’s news has been one of a lengthy series of hits to our common security, common support, and common sense. Politicians have — for years — practiced being “crueler-than-thou”. For years, some version of “People need X, politician gives it to a CEO or corporation or scam, just to prove their mean-ness it seems.
Today, I am an older, wiser man and don’t mean “violent overthrow” of anything. I have seen how that works and have not been at all impressed. So what would revolution look like in my present state of mind? We would take back our government and our authority as citizens.
Everybody who can, votes! Anyone who votes against people’s needs, we vote them out!
Sadly, I know, parts of the Voting Rights Act have been ripped out. Yes, redistricting makes it difficult in places to make votes count. It’ll take awhile, but, this first round, we vote everybody out who hasn’t fixed the Supreme Court’s decision, those who put new voting rules in place, those who were involved in redistricting, those who, in some way, took away voting rights.
If we don’t like who’s running, we run for office ourselves, and we vote for people’s needs to be met — all people, no one left out. Next, We restore votes to those who have been restricted That’s it, first and foremost.
Then we use our phones and our cameras to publicize anyone in authority who commits a crime, and we post it on the internet and we talk to each other about it. We figure out what needs to be done about it and we do it. Skip the talk about “values”. I don’t want to be the morality police. But when a politician or police officer or firefighter or dog catcher violates their oath to serve us by taking graft, engaging in crony-ism or straight out abuses the people they are suppose to serve, deal with them and get rid of any structures that keep them in power — any structure, including police unions. They work for us. If they’re not going to, we vote them out or fire them. Enough is enough.
Lastly, we deal with education. First, make it affordable for everyone. Then we stop telling teachers what to teach. We let students think for themselves, and ask questions that matter to them. Beyond some measure of tests to see what students are capable of, we stop this whole “teaching to the test” thing. We teach people what’s important to their lives, not how to take a test. As part of education, we require civics classes, so everybody knows what government is supposed to look like and how to act when it doesn’t. Free thinkers will restore our democracy.to what it used to be.
While I’m there: return recess to the school day.Let kids burn off their energy instead of drugging them. Let kids play, and be imaginative and be in their bodies and sense nature — in short, let kids be kids. Next support the arts and sports. Make music and art and vocational training available to students. Let them become better students by accessing all of their lives — hearts, minds, bodies. In a generation, or maybe two, we’ll have democracy on it’s feet again.
There’s an old political saying that “When the people lead, the leaders will follow”. We need to take back our authority and the responsibility for getting our needs met, and not abused. I’m done with being depressed. Start the revolution, start the revolution!