The world is downright depressing these days. I think I made that point in my last post. Here’s the thing: we can do something about it. We can stand up and say “This isn’t right.” We can go knock on our congresspeople’s doors and let them know how we feel. We can write letters to them, explaining the problem, the available solutions, and what we want them to do. We can march in protests, sign petitions, and write letters to the editor for our local newspapers.
There are so many things wrong right now. There are 783 million people without access to clean water, between 2.5 and 2.6 billion without toilets, and 805 million starving each day. There is fighting over the very minerals that are in the machine I am using to write this – so much, in fact, that cassiterite, wolframite, coltan, and gold (among others) are termed “conflict minerals,” and are predominantly mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Central African country that is best summarized as poor, hungry, sick, and corrupt.
Conflict is rampant around the world. Whether it’s fighting over resources, protesting injustice, displays of power, or a march of conquest, one would be hard-pressed to find a country on this planet that is truly peaceful. Unfortunately, much of this is occurring between peaceful protesters and the police.
Compounding these purely human problems is climate change. More extreme weather events – droughts, floods, tornadoes, and storms – are becoming increasingly frequent, and their impacts can exacerbate many of the problems we already face. Environmental racism – that is, the phenomenon where non-whites (and low-income whites) tend to be disproportionately affected by changes to their environment – is part of the climate justice movement. Among many examples, poorer neighborhoods were hurt more than richer ones in both Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy; the drought in California and other parts of the west is hurting migrant workers more than the Silicon Valley and southern California; Pacific Northwest indigenous tribes lose a fundamental part of their culture with the loss of salmon runs; Pacific Island nations are losing their homes due to sea level rise. The list goes on and on, in every province of every nation-state of the world.
Then there is the war on democracy. Unlike the War on Christmas, there is a very real effort to suppress democracy. As far as I can tell, it can be found across the world. The ability of every person to stand up and voice their opinion is the very basis of democracy, and when any one person is told to sit down and shut up, that is a threat. I am a Democrat, a liberal, an environmentalist, a woman, a youth, a feminist, a member of the queer community, and a Jew. Despite the actions of the far right against each and every one of those groups with whom I identify, I would not take away their right to vote. I only ask that they permit me and others like me to do the same. Yet they do not: they (that is, the elected officials of the Republican party) put in place ludicrous voter I.D. laws, shut down polling places, eliminate cross-precinct voting, and reduce early voting days. These rules disproportionately affect women, minorities, youth, and low-income communities. That isn’t right. I don’t care what your political orientation, no one should have the right to say one person’s voice is worth more than another’s.
We need a democracy. We need a healthy environment. We need social justice. We need economic and gender and racial equality. These things need to be fought for. I said how above. We need to stand up and shout our message from the rooftops. We need to rally together, all the groups, the feminists and the queers and the minorities and the environmentalists and everyone else who beliefs in a free and equal society. I’m in. Are you?