I’ve spent most of the day asking myself that question, filled with such a deep sadness it hurts to my core. Why is this happening? What drives someone to inflict such horror and destruction on perfect strangers? This is certainly not the America I grew up in.
I don’t know the answer. Whether this was home grown or not, it is not simple. But I do know we won’t fix it with a government that has divided us, while replacing decency, principle, and doing what’s right for America and others with greed, corruption, and doing right only for themselves. It’s no wonder despair has replaced hope for so many.
A disclaimer is needed right up front. I stole this title and subject. I stole it from Parker J. Palmer, a columnist for On Being, whose similarly-titled piece I just read, and its sincerity and truth struck me. (Thank you, Mr. Palmer.) However, my revolutions are different from his…
The world seems a real mess right now. Ask anyone. A handful of religious nut-jobs are holding the rest of us hostages of fear; millions of refugees are trying to find ways to simply survive; mass shootings have become almost commonplace; our own American democracy has spiraled into a corrupt oligarchy; and Mother Earth is struggling to support the ever-increasing mass of humanity upon it. Personal weight-loss resolutions that probably won’t survive until February seem pretty silly in light of it all. What’s really needed from all of us is a commitment to something a bit more meaty – call them revolutions – as part of an engaged, caring world community which will be the only hope of turning this mess around. We need to overwhelm the bad with good. Thus, these are the revolutions I personally resolve to put more energy into for 2016:
- Not being part of the apathetic, silent majority. It’s not someone else’s job to fix this. If we all don’t help, things are not going to improve. Public dissatisfaction with our government is at an all-time high, and yet U.S. voter turnout is one of the lowest in the free world. People complain about litter, but walk right past trash on the sidewalk – not their job. Bystanders simply watch as someone else gets bullied or abused. A smart man once said if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Posts of complaint on social media to like-minded friends are fine for helping to raise awareness, but it’s not enough. Therefore, I vow to cast my vote in every election. I will write my representative rather than just complain without action. I will pick up more trash when I see it, and I will help others when I can and am able.
- Fighting political corruption. Our once-great form of democracy is completely broken and has turned into a festering mass of corrupt politicians. The majority of Congress now spends most of their time pandering to wealthy contributors who donate millions of dollars for political decisions that make them wealthier. Our Representatives no longer work for us and are not going to fix this because they have sold their souls and benefit from it. Thus, I vow to work more with organizations such as Represent.Us to fight this cancer and to support and vote for candidates who promise to help.
- Reviving free speech. Political correctness has killed the First Amendment. For all the well-meaning intentions which drove the beginnings of PC back in the ’80s, the resulting overused cry of being offended and, worse yet, the fear of offending has basically shut down any real civil discourse between people on anything substantive, thereby strangling free speech. This has become a huge problem on our college campuses, the very institutions where free speech should be taught and nurtured to maintain a healthy society where understanding others’ views drives togetherness and compromise. Instead, we now have universities where students are suspended for saying what is on their minds, and a severely divided society where citizens only talk to those who share their own, evermore polarized perspectives. Therefore, I vow to speak up (as tactfully as possible, mind you) to promote the blending of ideas and help get us back to a point where free speech is once again revered instead of punished.
- Fighting lies and fear. Between our free enterprise system spewing deceptive advertising, erroneous social media posts gone viral, and our fear-mongering media filling us with dread to boost ratings, we are becoming a country of quivering fools. We spend billions of dollars on useless products that don’t work as claimed, hate and ridicule people for things that simply aren’t true, and waste trillions of our tax dollars fighting an enemy five thousand times less likely to kill us than our own lifestyle diseases and distracted driving. Thus, I vow to research and expose the lies, when possible, to help shield us from the scams and BS that have overrun our lives.
- Being kinder. The world has always needed people who are both strong and kind. This has never been more true than it is now, and though we mostly hear about being strong, what we probably need more is the kindness. We need more smiles from strangers as we go about our day and fewer aggressive-looking headlights on cars. We need more people who help the elderly and less bosses who drive their employees with threats and criticism. We need less people who hate based on color and spiritual belief, and more who accept others based on their individual actions. Simply put, we need more nice, decent people, and I promise to do my best to be one of them.
So that’s it – my revolutions for 2016. I hope you will make some of your own… real goals that you can commit to, follow through on, and that will benefit all of us on this small blue planet. There is still a lot of good out there and if we all work together maybe we can turn this tide. Happy New Year.