Living for Change News
July 4th – Interdependence Day
Thinking for Ourselves
Shea HowellJuly 4th celebrates the first American Revolution. It is important to remember that the corporate elite never liked democracy. From the very beginnings of this nation, democracy has been feared, limited, and manipulated. Race and wealth have played essential roles in that manipulation.
In the earliest days, the right to participate in decision-making was limited to a small circle of European descended property holders. Over the course of the next two and a half centuries, massive social movements expanded the circle of those included in democratic processes. In the 1960’s the civil rights movement shattered the last hold of the elite on limiting the vote. No more second class citizenship was the profound challenge raised by African Americans and other people of color, as they demanded a voice in determining their own future and the future of the country.
This moment of triumph culminated in the voting rights act of 1965. But it was short- lived. Within a few short months, the cities of America would rise up in rebellion, and the forces of law and order seized the opportunity to reassert a nation of white privilege. Corporate powers backed a new Southern Strategy that depended on inflaming racial tensions. Thus Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the Bushes all made their way to the presidency by playing to the deepest racial fears of white voters. As corporate power consolidated and economic inequality grew, poor people, women, people of color and immigrants were held up as the causes of all the nation’s problems.
The new democrats, under the leadership of Bill Clinton were little better. While offering a more inclusive vision of America, the policies emerging from the administration were intended to assist the consolidation of corporate power.
Nor was this effort to protect corporate power by invoking racial hatred been limited to the US. In a recent article discussing the vote to leave the European Union, Laleh Khalilli notes in Truthout, “The British political classes have refused to reckon with the country’s colonial legacy and their steadfast refusal to acknowledge the racism interwoven in its institutions have only exacerbated this xenophobia and racism.”
This refusal has consequences for democracy. Khalili explains “beginning with Margaret Thatcher’s scorched-earth neoliberalism, policies of privatization and austerity—during both feast and famine—have led to a degradation of national life, a diminishing of social mobility and a growth in inequality in the UK.” We should not be surprised by the vote to leave the EU, nor by the open racial violence surrounding it.
This diminishment of national life, distortion of democracy, and evasion of the real questions facing us not only nationally but on the verge of planetary collapse is being challenged at every level. The recent report by CIVICUS on the State of Civil Society saw this past year as one of “citizens taking to the streets to demand change in countries all over the world, “from Chile to South Africa and from Armenia to South Korea, with public anger fueled by skewed and unequal economic systems, corruption and the failure of governments to put citizens’ interests at the heart of their actions.”
Democracy, direct action and the demand for a public voice is emerging everywhere. It is being “met with violent state response, which should be seen as part of a broader pattern of restrictions and attacks on civil society.”
This week, as we celebrate that first American Revolution we need to face the fact that representative democracy has become distorted and brittle. It once again represents an ever- smaller circle of white wealth and narrow political interest. We, the people are called to create new forms of governing ourselves that will establish a just, compassionate and sustainable community life. This new American Revolution is our challenge.
Let us rename and reclaim July 4th. From this day forth, we will know it as INTERdependence Day—a day we celebrate the value of mutual support and community. We need each other!
I am excited to launch my new book, What Matters: Reflections on Disability, Community and Love on this reclaimed day. INTERdependency is at the core of our family’s story. This collection of writings chronicles our son, Micah’s ground breaking journey of full inclusive living through intentional circles of support.
I invite you to celebrate your INTERdependence today. – Janice FialkaTake a peek at What Matters, and ‘like’ our new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ whatmattersinclusion/
To order the book: http://www.danceofpartnership. com/books.htm
MLK + 50: A Year of Truth and Transformation
April 4, 2018 — two years from now — will be the 50th anniversary of the death — the murder — of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
April 4, 2017 — one year from now — will be the 50th anniversary of his speech to Clergy and Laity Concerned About Vietnam, at Riverside Church in New York. There he warned us of the “deadly triplets” of racism, militarism, and materialism that were endangering America. (And still are.)
We propose to make the year from April 4, 2017, to April 4, 2018, an American Jubilee Year of Truth and Transformation — through action as well as emotional and spiritual reflection and repentance.
(The National Council of Elders is supporting this intiative).
We intend to make it a year for renewing the struggle to end the malignant impact of racism, militarism, and materialism and to move toward what Dr. King called the Beloved Community.
The murder of Dr. King crystallized in one moment a thread of violent history in American efforts to “make America real”:
Americans have never collectively and at a spiritual level faced this part of our history, seen it as a continuing self-inflicted wound, done penance for it, and committed ourselves to work against it in all its manifestations.
If activists around the country were to take the initiative to use his Riverside speech as the beginning point a year before, it would be far more likely that the year would address Dr. King in his fullness and his focus on the root causes of American dysfunction, rather than the vanilla-washed version of him so prevalent in the mass media and official political discourse.
To begin the year: On or about April 4, 2017, everywhere in the US churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, colleges, and other community organizations hold readings of Dr. King’s Riverside speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” along with discussion of how to apply it today.
At the heart of his speech were these words:
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. (For a full transcript of the speech, see https://theshalomcenter.org/node/71)
In some cities, there might be gatherings of “Clergy and Laity Concerned About America,” echoing the “Clergy And Laity Concerned About Vietnam” whom Dr. King was addressing in 1967.
In that speech, King named the racism, militarism, and materialism that haunted and endangered America then – and still.
Anniversary gatherings could spark and plan continuing actions, in the spirit of Dr. King’s Riverside speech and of his actions against racism and war, his strong support for labor unions of the poor (like the garbage workers of Memphis for whom he died), and his commitment to nonviolent resistance.
To end the year, we will issue a Call for a National Day of Action, Atonement and At-ONE-ment on April 4, 2018, together with special religious services and a myriad actions around the country to move past the “deadly triplets” of racism, militarism, and materialism. For some people, a day of fasting might seem appropriate.
The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality
evolution in the 21st Century Anthology
…or the classic, Conversations in Maine