This past year has been one of upheaval and change. While we have faced many challenges and struggles, we have started to confront troubling issues and have brought the darkest faults of our nation to light so that we might build a brighter future. There is much work for all of us to do.
The president, the administration, and the current congress have all proven themselves unable or unwilling to handle the responsibility of leading us. They have fallen short by refusing to build up the people – ALL of the people. Their inability to grasp the importance of caring for one another, their absolute resistance to a diplomacy of peace, and their exploitation of workers and the natural world has led us to another low point for humanity. How can we escape the downward pull of corruption and greed when our public servants serve only themselves?
It is far too easy to dwell on the failings of others and that path leads nowhere. What this moment requires is bold and visionary leadership. That bold and visionary leadership is already growing all over the United States. We have seen it in the leadership of People of Color and Indigenous in organizations like Black Lives Matter founded by Patrice Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi, Honor the Earth inspired and co-founded by Winona LaDuke, and the MeToo Movement founded by Tarana Burke. We have seen leadership and activism on the streets of Ferguson, the rolling hills of Standing Rock, and the playing fields of the NFL. It is this leadership that offers us a clear path to a better future.
What world do you want for your children? As mothers and father, as uncles and aunts, as teachers and mentors, we want a future that is better than our present. What does tomorrow’s world look like and how can we get there?
We must build a world of equity. We not only need to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the wrongs our nation has committed, but we need to actively work to allow those who were oppressed and marginalized to take the lead in building our shared future. We must provide reparations to those we have enslaved and murdered. We must give them the opportunity to succeed on their own terms, and to stand back while supporting them. Educational opportunities must be culturally relevant and of the highest quality for all. Economic opportunities must be community based and provide equitable pathways for financial and social prosperity and security. These opportunities must give priority to those who have not been offered them before. We must examine real and effective options to the current law enforcement model. The current model of law enforcement is not only not working, it is actively oppressive and dangerous.
We must build a world of abundant beauty and sustainability. Rather than exploit natural resources for profit, we must develop a cooperative relationship with our natural environment. We can still benefit from using the resources nature has provided, but we must do it in such a way that the health of our environment is given priority. We must find alternatives to destructive and dangerous mining practices, we must never engage in clear cutting of trees, we must maintain a healthy balance between our needs and the health of the world which gives us life. This means making changes, sometimes radical changes. We can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels immediately and dramatically by investing in public transportation, bicycles, walking, and cooperative transportation. We can reduce the negative impact of automobile-centered planning by making walkability and bicycle use a priority in municipal design and zoning. We can develop a highly accessible, energy efficient, affordable, and mobile national system of fast rail transport between cities and further reduce our dependence on inefficient modes of long distance travel.
We must build a world of opportunity. But this opportunity must not be mired in the exploitation of the corporate capitalist system. We must provide sustainable opportunity locally as well as nationally. We must empower people to come together and make their voices heard. We can do that through the establishment of cooperatives and worker owned businesses. We can do this by returning legal protections to democratically organized worker’s unions. Through local utility cooperatives, we can make faster and reliable internet services both available and affordable for everyone in the United States. Through public banking initiatives, we can return control of the financial sector to the people for the benefit of all. We must transform agriculture by promoting farming methods that are sustainable and soil-enriching and by a return to seasonal vegetable and fruit production in appropriate climate zones to keep the land healthy, the water clean and plentiful, and the agricultural economy diverse and vibrant. We must commit to best practices in education so that every child and every adult has access to an education that develops lifelong critical thinking and creativity. And we must make that quality education accessible to all, regardless of economic status.
We must build a world of peace. We have wasted too many lives and too much money in the pursuit of the diplomacy of violence. We have allowed our military and militarized law enforcement to not only command an unfair share of the economy, but to determine how we interact globally. Our military and law enforcement are not protective of the people, they are protective of the wealthy and powerful. They are an arm of violence wielded by the corporate state to induce or create fear and allow more and more freedoms to be sacrificed. This must end. By engaging in real diplomacy, by agreeing to unilateral dismantling of all nuclear weapons, and by shutting down military bases outside the United States, we can ensure a more peaceful future. By removing the constant threat of violence that we have impressed upon the world, we can start building a future based on mutual understanding instead of greed and fear.
All of this requires a radical shift in priorities. We must transition from a society founded on war and exploitation, to a society of peace and prosperity. We must transform our economic values from greed and selfishness, to an economy of cooperation and mutual benefit. We must transform our relationships from those of division and hatred, to relationships of interdependence and respect.
It will take great effort, but we have always risen to the challenge. The challenge starts now.