Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Well election day has finally arrived. What will happen and how will things be from here on out? I'm sure many around the world are watching and wondering this same thing. I am sitting here in the early morning light of possibility. From this place, in this moment, everything is possible. While I know voting has been going on for some hours in other parts of the country, here the day is just beginning and I can sit in this space of possibility and potential.

What I think as I sit in this space is that this campaign and election cycle has been an amazing process. While it has in many ways been tedious, stressful, full of strife and hope it has also been unprecedented in motivating people to get out and take action. In this respect, regardless of what the the election result turns out to be, I think, our greatest lesson and achievement has already taken place. Americans have been historically less politically active than people in other countries. All over Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia people regularly take to the streets and demand the attention of their politicians. Now we begin to see what can be done when we put our hearts, minds and bodies into action.

My view is that we have been asleep at the wheel for some time now in this country. There are many reasons for this. Many of us are just too busy making ends meet and taking care of our families and have no energy left over for other things. It takes a lot of time and work to keep ourselves really informed. Most of us don't have time to get out in the world and talk to other people in other countries and see for ourselves the impact of our policies on other nations. Most of us are too worn out and tired, or too entrenched in holding on to what we have to look behind the curtain at who is running our country these days. Writing and calling our congress people or even attending local community meetings seems too much for us to manage.

But during this year many people did manage to do a little something extra to try and make things change. This is inspirational, it is momentous. It is the most important thing to come out of this election process. But it doesn't end here. It doesn't end today. It doesn't really matter who gets elected if we remain asleep at the wheel. No leader can create change by themselves nor should we expect or desire such a thing. If that happens it is called a Dictatorship. Dictatorships don't usually give people what they want or need and they usually require military support to maintain. Democracy is really our responsibility, not our leaders. Our leaders can help or hinder the process but the power and choice is really ours.

It is always possible to abdicate responsibility and hand our power over to others who will without a doubt use it to their own advantage which is basically what has been happening for many years. Now it looks like the overwhelming majority of people in this country would like to see a change in the way we are running this country. Well, a big part of that change is going to have to be, not in our elected leaders but in all of us. We are going to have to find the time and space to pay attention, to take action and to tell our political leaders what it is that we want in this country. We are going to have to keep ourselves really informed and educated and not just with the nightly news and the morning papers. Unfortunately, our media has been completely taken over by those whose interests are not necessarily our own and they have no reason to tell us anything that would upset their apple cart. So we have to look a little deeper and a little more broadly by reading foreign newspapers and finding alternative voices.

I'm not saying that any source should be believed completely. All media sources come from a particular slant. Complete, neutral objectivity is not possible so we have to look across a range of sources to get a fuller picture on things and then make our own personal decisions about what is important to us and what we will support. Then take action by voting with your voice and your dollars. Tell your elected officials what you want. We need watchdog groups to hold our politicians accountable and to counter the power of lobby groups and special interests. Buy those things that support your values not just what is cheapest because inevitably what looks cheap is very costly in outsourced jobs, unfair and subsidized competition, unjust labor practices in other countries and environmental degradation. These costs may not be apparent to you in terms of how they effect you but they ultimately cost us all a lot more in the end. A little research will show you this. Watch the "Story of Stuff at www.storyofstuff.com for a place to start this research.

Our Constitution begins with the words, "We the People." This is what the founding fathers always intended. They created a structure for government - for the people and by the people. Our elected officials are meant to be servants of the will of the people. To make a democracy really work it requires an informed an active population. This is truly what the cost of freedom is. It does not have to be paid in blood but it does have to be paid in active attention and participation.

So regardless of what happens today. We the People of the United States have all already won and we must continue these efforts if we hope to maintain our freedoms and our rights as individuals. We also have to be aware that we are part of a much bigger world. The things we do here affect many others around the globe just as the things others do affect us. Being the world bully or police force never makes us any safer it only makes us a target. Maybe we can use our technology, resources, and military to begin creating drinking water for all those in the world who have none. Maybe we can use our great might to help green the planet rather than to escalate it's devastation. Maybe we can use the power of We the People to solve some of the challenges of food shortages and the need to develop and distribute alternative forms of power and to really address health issues in our own country and around the planet. My belief is that then we would be really living in the country that we think we are - America the Home of the Free and the Land of those who get things done by helping ourselves and others. We can make many good things happen in this country and all around the world. It all starts now. Stay awake, Stand Up, Voice Yourself.

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