The Time is Ripe

“Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or the weak. Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.” ~ Cesar Chavez


Just because you’re disenfranchised doesn’t mean you’re dead. I mean this in the most serious way possible. Except for the few friends and family that I’ve managed to hold close over the years, I am alone in this world. Many of you probably feel the same way. You have a cadre of friends that you can count on, but you don’t have a real movement that can speak for you in times of injustice. We are the young, the old, the weak, the poor, the disassociated and the disenfranchised. It is easy for us to say that our vote doesn’t count. It is easy to say that the rich will always win. It is easy to say that the struggle is not ours. And it is easy to blame someone else.

All right. So blame me. It is my generation and the generations that came after that have let our country get away from us. We have grown obese and dependent. We have gotten away from home-cooked meals and real food. We guzzle fossil fuels like they are going out of style (I wish they were). We have become addicted to prescription drugs. We defer our payments until next year when we should be balancing our budget.

I’m not talking about the government. I’m talking about we the people. How many of you know someone who is taking ten, twelve, twenty prescription drugs per day? It could be mom or grandma, but I’m sure you know someone. How many of you know someone who has run up massive credit card debt or student loans? How many of you know someone who is unemployed or has filed bankruptcy? All of the wealth in this country is held by the banks, the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and the top two percent of Americans. This is not by accident. This is by design. It is time for it to stop. I’m talking about an economic revolution.

I know what you’re thinking. It seems futile if you look at it from an individual standpoint. It’s like being outmanned in a playground basketball game. The other team keeps dunking on you and all you can think to do is take your ball and go home. But there is another way to look at it. If you bring twenty of your friends to the court, it is suddenly twenty on five and there is no way to cover all of you. If twenty is not enough then you bring forty, or one hundred, or one hundred million. There is a tipping point to be reached, but it can only happen if we heed Cesar Chavez’s words at the beginning of this chapter. It takes sacrifice. It takes perseverance. It takes patience. And it takes dedication.

You are probably scratching your head and saying, this guy is full of crap. Maybe I am. By the crap that’s been fed to me by the mainstream media for almost fifty years.  It took me that long to pull my head out of the sand and see what is happening. It is an audacious power grab. It is an attempt to subvert democracy. It is a foreclosure on the American dream. I may not have all of the answers but I have a good idea how to get started. It’s called banding together.

Think about your friends. Do you know someone who is truly rich. I’m not talking about someone who makes a couple of hundred thousand a year, because those people are just as close to economic disaster as you and me. I hear it all the time from them, the small business owners. They are not the enemy. They are actually being crushed between the rock, the really rich, and the hard place, the working poor. They’re battling to save that extra one percent in taxes that they might have to pay. The argument is that they are supporting the eighteen or twenty families that they employ. If they had a smaller tax burden, they might be able to support a few more. I get this argument. It’s just that I think it is a moot point without real reform.

The rich that I’m talking are the CEO rich, the captains of industry. These are the guys that are pulling down millions a year, but only if they can capture an increasing market share and pay back their investors. The banking and insurance CEO’s tried to game the system with elaborate shell games, trading their debt back and forth and charging for every transaction. It worked great until they got caught with their pants down and we had to bail them out with funny money. They lost a lot of our money and still managed to get paid. Now they are back to the same crap again. The only way we can change the paradigm is to hit these guys in their wallets and put economic pressure on them to reform their ways.

And then we have the captains of energy, the admirals of chemicals and the titans of pharmaceuticals. You’ve got companies like Exxon/Mobil and BP who are among the top four companies in the Fortune 500 and they are allowed to do business in America for free. The only time they have to pay anything is when they spill enough oil to make the evening news. And in the meantime they can hold us hostage for ever-increasing fees at the pumps. You’ve got companies like Monsanto who want to monopolize our food supply so that we have one brand of corn, one of beans, one of wheat, where we used to have hundreds of each. And we wonder why our health is going into the crapper. And then there is big Pharma. Our population is aging and they are taking advantage of it. They incentivize doctors to distribute their pills to the point of addiction and then keep the costs moving up. I hope that whomever it was that came up with lifetime treatment programs is burning in hell right now. I repeat, The only way we can change the paradigm is to hit these guys in their wallets and put economic pressure on them to reform their ways.

I’ve put the targets on their backs, so now I give you the next steps. One, pull all of your money out of the big banks. They do not have your best interests in mind. They are using your money to make profits for themselves. There are plenty of good local credit unions that will keep your money in the community and working for you.

Two, change your shopping habits. Your grocery store is poisoning you with processed foods. Stay out of the drive-thru line. Go to the farm stand. Go to the local market. Get some real, fresh, non-GMO food. Put a garden in your yard, or your windowsill. Join a community garden. Learn about edible plant-life.

Three, Question your doctor, your parent’s doctor and your grandma’s doctor. Talk to your parents about their ailments. Try to find alternatives to taking a pill for every symptom. Look into holistic cures, changing diets and herbal therapies. It is important to wean everyone off of the prescription addiction.

Four, and this is the big one, band together. Chase Bank is not suddenly going to change their ways just because you pull your money out. In fact, when I did it the guy was incredulous. “No one switches from Chase to a credit union. It’s always the other way around.” But imagine if twenty of your friends, the same twenty from that basketball game, all walked into Chase and pulled their money out. That will send a message. Giant Eagle is not going to stop giving money to politicians if you stop shopping there, but if you and twenty of your friends all stop shopping there, and you write a letter telling them why, it will make an impact. The list goes on and on. We must band together and coordinate to change the paradigm. This is the only way to make a difference.

We may be disenfranchised, but that doesn’t mean we are dead.

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