If it feels to you that everywhere you look these days, things in this country are going to hell in a handbasket, you’re not alone; you’re also not a CEO or Hedge Fund manager. Record home foreclosures, unemployment and job insecurity are worse than at any time since the Great Depression. Schools are closing, after-school and preventive health care programs are being eliminated, and unions, the guardians of the middle class, are seeing their members attacked by government at every level and corporations in every trade.
And then there are the 40 million (plus) people living in poverty – the canaries in this coal mine. Housing assistance has been cut 60%, disability assistance and family assistance has been all but wiped out and nearly one million students in public schools, by the Dept. of Education’s own estimate, are homeless.
Jails are becoming the “solution” to mental illness and long-standing pockets of poverty are worse off than ever; in Indian Country, over 50 percent of the youth have attempted or know someone who has committed suicide.
I stop now only because this exercise is so damn depressing. The list is in no way complete but I trust you get the gist. These times are our call for change.
The days of social consciousness applying to only one segment of injustice and oppression are over. We can’t claim to care about “the homeless” yet cross picket lines or buy products made from exploited workers. We need to stop thinking that tenant rights for people living in public housing are somehow different than they are for people living in private housing. We can do better.
We all know the amazing strength we possess. The righteous work of our allies and the sacrifices when their work leads to incarceration, General Dogon, skid row outreach worker from LA CAN most recently. Our commitment, intelligence and fearlessness has never been, and is not now, in question.
The question we face today is how do we build a movement? Not a campaign or an issue- based coalition, but a movement. A movement that truly embraces diversity of people and understands that issues may come and go (currently mostly coming), but that what is important is how our government is treating its people.
The broader we see ourselves as part of the people, the better we can identify the trends that are becoming so clear at this point: that we have lost our government to a mind set of corporate gluttony and political corruption that has pitted us against each other to the point where we are all drowning in the sea of trickle down economics.
On Friday August 5th, 2011 at 4 pm in San Francisco’s Union Square, representatives from throughout the West Coast along with allies from Chicago and NYC are getting together and laying the groundwork so this movement can grow. People from community organizing and immigrant right communities, from union, homeless, health, and housing groups, from music and education, we will all be marching, dancing, and dropping in to say hello to our “friends” in the financial district. Not for their benefit, but for ours.
We’ll practice what we preach. We’ll speak to the issues of all our communities and practice how we meld our common humanity in with our individual pride. And then we’ll do this again, and then again and then again …. We’re going to get really really good at it, and when we do, when we really do connect all our energies, intelligence, and passions, then we’re going to be able to create a pretty damn decent place for people to live!