More to the point, the country will never again change the way it did during the two great protest eras of my lifetime, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War protests. In both cases, there were huge constituencies who were willing to assemble, march, fight, disrupt, and even die for what they believed in. Governments became terrified. Presidents declined to run for second terms, or resorted to outright criminality in desperation. The silence of the Silent Majorities grew deafening. Change happened.
Nothing of the sort will ever happen again, as long as we all remain fractionalized and absorbed in our own individual causes, no matter how just, or how fervently we believe.
I scroll through Facebook and I see folks whose personal crusades include dog rescue, Monsanto and GMOs, health care reform, animal rights, Tea Party outrages, fracking, tar mining, global warming, the environment in general, media bias, poverty-level wages, NSA abuses, Wall Street excesses, and plenty more. Good causes all, and deserving of our awareness and attention, and also deserving of our individual efforts. My friends who work passionately and tirelessly for dog rescues are a good example of good people making a difference.
My point, though, is that to expect any meaningful change to come about as a result of “good government” is to have our collective heads stuck firmly in the sand. There’s too much money arrayed against most of these “causes”, unless we are finally able to create and mobilize a collective resistance. How long would the practice of fracking for natural gas persist if half a million people marched against it in DC once a month, hounded every politician mercilessly, and every city in the country experienced impassioned demonstrations against it continuously?
I “demonstrated” at my congressman’s office during the government shutdown. There were fewer than 10 of us. One man had a sign favoring statehood for Palestine, one had a sign stating exactly which government programs he was in favor of keeping shut down while opening the rest, and one gentleman my age, who should have known better, spent all his time exhorting us not to cause a disturbance or block the sidewalk. I SO badly wanted to explain to him we were not there for a fucking play date.
Why the photograph? Because it’s depressing, and that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now.