Letters to the Editor

Part Three-Community Rights.

In Lafayette, Colorado citizens took over the city council meeting when their representatives tried to legalize drilling they didn’t want. The Colombia Supreme Court of Justice ruled in April of 2018 that the ecosystem of the Amazon region in Colombia possesses rights, as part of a growing recognition around the world. New Hampshire legislature took a historic vote on the first Community Rights state constitutional amendment considered by a state legislature in March of 2018. Ohio and Oregon are also advancing such amendments.

Although much of the ecological and social dangers facing us stem from corporate interests that elect governments to serve them; there is something within us that has become alienated from our democratic processes (and each other) that needs to reawaken for real change to take place. “Dictators are never as strong as they tell you they are. People are never as weak as they think they are.” Dr. Gene Sharp.

Known as the “Machiavelli of Non-violence,” Dr. Gene Sharp was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on nonviolent resistance. “He argued that nonviolent resistance draws its strength not from the capacity of people to “love one another and turn the other cheek,” but from “people’s capacity to be stubborn and cussed, and we’re all good at that.” Recent polls show that 20% of Americans don’t know how many U. S. Senators there are. The same poll tells us that 20% of Americans also believe the earth is flat. Most Americans polled could not name more than one of the protections the First Amendment guarantees.

However, to our credit 22% polled could name every member of the Simpsons. Oh, my.

We have “fake news,” as the Trump administration coined it, to discredit independent journalism. And we have “diluted” news that keeps us from hearing the underpinnings of corporate actions to claim individual rights. We also have a generation of youth who are able to connect across town and around the globe at the touch of their fingertips. And we have each other when we stop the distractions and pull in for a real conversation. We have voting, but not by much. Winning candidates are only supported by 19% of our population, with only 38% voting at all. Learning about democracy and how it works may mean ousting some out of office. It may also entail drafting and be enacting our own laws to correct the power imbalances between corporations and our governments. (Perhaps summoning the nomenclature ‘tea party’ back to its historical meaning?)

We can find heroes everywhere, with many now serving in government. There are inspiritos in office speaking truth to power. They are your public servants, and interested in your community rights.

Mourning. Yes, the awakening process can throw us into mourning. A philosophy of the East states “All learning is unlearning.” We’ve long heard that government is “for the people, by the people”. Then there is the “what is”- our democracy no longer exists as it once did. It will have to be reclaimed. Yet corporations are our creations and part of us. They are what we buy from to make our lives easier, how we eat, tweet, fuel up, entertain ourselves. They are what society and privilege (or lack thereof) have molded us into. We are also part of each other. Having conversations with those outside like-minded groups is essential, as is becoming aware of where in our inner world we have built walls that keep us in a sense of separation.

Millions of Americans are working hard to protect our world from an old growth timber cut; a hog farm operation; another threat to our food supply; or a stolen election. Instead of battling corporate harm one issue at a time when we align our varied visions around the steps to claim back our world through exercising our Community Rights something else is possible. Imagine when all of us take a stand together regardless of ideologies, class, race, and gender; for neighborhood rights, education rights, social justice rights, worker rights, community rights and the rights of nature. When we get past the mindsets that keep us apart and see past the devices used by those in power to divide and conquer, our individual concerns appear as one. We then rise from being victims of circumstance to being once again co-creators of our democracy.

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Margarete Milliette, former Lake Geneva resident and city activist

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