BY SHARON MARTIN
In a single day, two intelligent women in separate phone conversations told me they were disgusted with politics and didn’t see what they could do to fix what ails this country. One is a conservative, the wife of a minister in Mississippi who pish-poshed my suggestion that she at least needed to pay attention to the issues and vote.
“If you think your vote counts as much as that lobbyist’s who sends legislators to Hawaii to play golf, you are delusional,” she told me.
She’s right that money can’t buy democracy. But inaction insures that democracy fails.
The other woman, a progressive, said she was avoiding politics because, “You just can’t take everything on.”
Yes, but we can’t just sit things out either. Abdication of our duties as citizens has far-reaching effects.
As it says in the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions [and indecisions] on the next seven generations.”
Things didn’t get bad all of a sudden, and they won’t get better overnight. But if we don’t act, things will never get better.
What if John Hancock and company decided that England was just too powerful an enemy and chose not to sign the Declaration of Independence?
What if President Johnson and the post-Civil War Congress hadn’t reneged on promises of 40 acres and a mule made to black soldiers, newly freed slaves? They left these patriots without education or resources. Most were forced to become sharecroppers, slavery by another name. How might successful black farmers have changed the dynamics of civil rights?
For decades we’ve had a two-tiered education system. Rich districts get what they need; poor districts make hard choices.
What affect has this had on economic trends and the widening gap between rich and poor? What affect will the current push for rote learning and mandated testing have on our children and theirs? What can we do now to reverse a trend that robs students of the need to think creatively?
Inaction isn’t an option unless we are willing to give everything away to those who will buy our politicians and sell us out. We have to act, even if the acts are small, even if all each of us does is carefully consider the candidates’ positions and vote in the next election.
Patriots act. Many small actions can become a great action. All of us working together can restore our democracy.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer