November 27, 2002

Do Something, Anything

"So we come to it in the end, the great battle of our time, in which many things shall pass away. But at least there is no longer need for hiding. We will ride the straight way and the open road and with all our speed. The muster shall begin at once."
- Theoden, Lord of the Mark

So begins Here. Now. by William Rivers Pitt, a fine, soulful piece on the existential reality of late 2002. It is posted on the Web site.

"Leaders never lead, unless the people lead them," says Pitt. "Leaders, left to their own devices, will follow the call of the folks writing the checks. For too long in this country, the people have abdicated their basic responsibility - to rule. In the absence of the people's leadership, our elected officials have begun listening to the corporations and the well-funded interest groups instead."

I think the word "leaders" here should be put in quotes, or perhaps replaced by "politicians," because the people he refers to who hold positions of leadership are not leaders. They are only going through the motions. They are there by default, because we the people have abdicated on our responsibility. As Pitt says, "The result is the mess we are in."

The result is, as the quote atop says, we have reached the battle of our lives. We are on the brink. The cushy lives we have led have made us soft and decadent, and have brought us to the brink of disaster.

"We have reached a point, however, where inaction is not only inadvisable, but worthy of the charge of treason," Pitt says. "Do something. You do not have to be rich or powerful or well-connected to erect a sign in your yard. You do not have to be a salesperson to hand out informational leaflets at a bus stop. You do not have to be young to volunteer with an organization. You do not have to be liberal to know that something is badly, badly out of joint. Do something. Do anything. At the end of the day, it does not matter what you do. A sign in your yard, a button in the lapel of your coat, an email sent around to friends, will have a small but salutary effect. It will make others in the country who feel isolated in their fear that something has gone terribly wrong understand that they are not alone. Big storms gather around small particles.

"Think on this as you give thanks for what you've got. The moment is here, now, upon us all. Even the smallest effort can and will make a difference. On a large enough scale, it could change the face of the world. Be thankful for that, as well, and do something with it."

This is how democracy will work, when it does work. It will be the combined action of a vast majority. Each person doesn't have to do that much. The people who are being hurt by the Bush administration outnumber by far the ones who benefit. We're a vast majority. If each person just acts on what they believe in, even in very modest ways, it will create a massive wave.

So do something. Anything. Now.

And keep on.

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