Things that get me going—this is one of them. Intelligent, educated, deserving citizens struggling under the oppressive weight of poverty. The weakening of the American Middle Class is a disturbing and growing trend. Since moving to Portland and seeing the vast array of people struggling with homelessness and poverty (among others–drug use, abuse, etc.) I’ve been meaning to revisit the issue. It seems especially relevant now in light of a recent report by Charles K. Rowley and Nathanael Smith on the United States’ potential journey into Third World status. It breaks my heart that we’ve let it get to this point. We’ve figured out how to fly, how to put a woman in space, replace a heart, grow a stem cell, talk loud and clear to somebody thousands of miles away–but we can’t figure out a way to make sure everyone who wants the basics covered gets them? What’s up with that?
My bus commute is a daily reality check. What I can tell you is that we’ve really got some work to do if we want to live up to the ideals expressed in our founding documents and the American Dream. How can we rewrite the rules to fit today? Where will small actions lead to major impacts? I’d really love to hear your ideas.
One of mine—cutting out the “I gotta get mine” mentality. It’s disgusting, selfish and guess what? It doesn’t work. This little recession we’ve got going on is proof of that. We’re in it together. I’m not suggesting communism or socialism, just transparent, fair + ethical capitalism, which is far from what we’ve had. Every American deserves the opportunity at a job that will allow them to put quality food on the table and a roof over their head, let them get medical assistance when they’re sick and provide an education for their children. Whether they take that opportunity is up to them, but it should be there. It shouldn’t be elusive—it’s the mother-effing American Dream!!! We can’t survive without that dream alive and well. It is who we are. It’s in our blood. We have to fight like hell for it.
But with eight million jobs cut in the U.S. in since December 2007, that dream has dimmed like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan. Nothing can save Tink but a conscious, sincere and faith-in-ourselves-filled clapping of the hands.
Well, here we are, our light is dimmed, but it isn’t dead. We have a choice to make: fight or flight. I think it’s an easy choice to make. The way out? Bold moves, a heady dose of innovation and an all or nothing attitude. Full force. Total community participation. Unwavering commitment to the common goal. Clap those hands until you can’t clap no more.
Oh yeah, the sheer possibility of what we can accomplish is another thing that really gets me going. It makes me want to move. Makes we want to act. Makes we want to work for it.
We can all do something. One thing. One thing multiplied by 300 million can produce some depressing results—or impressive ones. It’s up to us to choose.
One thing? Is that really to much to ask? Or are we just going to settle?
Time to start hustlin’.