Leaving Home: Facing Reality without Losing Hope - A Peaceful Nation by Ness Blackbird
It’s time to face facts. National politics have passed a critical point, beyond which they simply are not likely to turn around; not in the next generation, anyway. Not before our national wealth has been squandered, given away to health insurance companies, oil companies, military contractors, fast food manufacturers, and the rest. To quote George Akerlof, Nobel laureate in economics, in reference to Bush’s fiscal policies, “What we have here is a form of looting.”
The truth is that our “democratic” institutions have been co-opted by corporate interests, which now effectively control our political system. This control is self-perpetuating. It is making very wealthy corporations and persons wealthier still, and they are prepared to spend an enormous amount of money to maintain the situation. Infinitely more money than we democratically (small “D”)-oriented interests can hope to raise. Money steers the ship of state.
Best example: NBC is owned by General Electric. GE is a major military contractor. NBC has a financial incentive to support war and the election of people like Bush. And what political power trumps a news networks like NBC? Remember—all other political forces must work through the media.
It’s important not to give up hope, but rather to take action—realistic action. The national politics of the USA are a wasteland. No matter how hard we try, we cannot win in that context, not anytime soon. Of course, it is important that we keep trying, through participation in existing social institutions and the vote, but in my view, we must not fool ourselves into believing that we can make a great difference. Thus it is important to not devote our best energies to a wasted effort. We must find new directions—community directions.
Because this is the effect of the national media: they separate us. When Bush originally claimed to have “intelligence” of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, I knew he was lying, and I knew many other people knew it—but still I felt alone, because on every street corner, every radio, every television, Iraq’s “WMDs” were decried.
And when we gathered together, 40,000 of us here in Portland, to say that we didn’t want to go to war, the Oregonian said there were only 20,000 of us, and soon forgot about it. 40,000 people is over 7% of the entire population of Portland.
For me, the worst was the feeling that nothing happened. I knew the news media would bury the demonstrations around the country and world. I knew the Bush administration wasn’t going to listen, and Congress wasn’t going to take action. Even those of us at the demonstration were not galvanized by the experience. We all knew that no major change was going to happen. We shouted our slogans, but (speaking for myself) it wasn’t a life-changing event. It was kind of sad; I felt a miserable sense of sterility.
It is that sterility which we must combat. It leaves our efforts barren. To combat it, we must take effective action. Our political works must be fruitful, and beautiful, and successful. They must be seen and shared by many. Shared. This is necessary. It feeds us, heals us, allows us to keep working.
Most of us are not fulltime activists. We have jobs, families, lives. We care about politics, but most of us care about other things more. We must do something that serves our world, and that creates fresh new energy. Something that makes us feel more alive, instead of feeling like we are bleeding, cut by the cruel uncaring of our national community.
Most of us have some community, large or small, that heals us, and it isn’t generally national electoral politics: it’s an environmental cause, a gay rights organization, a homeless shelter we volunteer for. Many are even less political: we go to a commu-nity dance, write a zine, share home schooling, play in a band.
Here’s my idea. All of us, who desire peace, everywhere in the world; all of our organizations and groups, even corporations—we can all create a nation. A Peaceful Nation. Thus, our activities, of every kind, have a new context, and we belong to something larger.
The goal is to combat the despair, not by fighting a losing battle, but by creating something new and fresh. Go to PeacefulNation.org if you’d like to learn more and become a citizen.
Ness Mountain is a counselor and urban shaman living in Portland. Comments on Leaving Home are welcome. Email Ness at [email protected]