We didn’t just get here by accident. By “here,” I mean:
- a situation in which all three branches of the federal government are controlled by the large corporate interests represented by the Republican Party
- a situation in which income inequality is greater than at any other time since before the Great Depression
- a situation in which almost unlimited amounts of money can be used (often anonymously) to sway political processes
- a situation in which our tax structure becomes evermore regressive and harmful to the poor and middle class
- a situation in which laws are passed to make it more difficult to vote and in which some states are so gerrymandered that many seats in legislatures are practically permanently held by one party, while the politicians holding those seats often run unopposed
- a situation in which unions have been decimated and the minimum wage is falling
- a situation in which deregulation of financial institutions and industry in general has more momentum than protection of the environment, public health, and safety
- a situation in which public schools are chronically underfunded, undervalued, and under siege by private corporate interests
- a situation in which public institutions of higher education have gone from being almost fully publicly funded, to partially publicly funded, to barely publicly funded and thus more dependent on funding from the persons and powers that benefit from the established environment
- a situation in which court appointments are blocked for political purposes with almost no negative political consequences
- a situation in which insurance companies and healthcare providers are enriched by our healthcare system, while patients and their families are impoverished
- a situation in which a greater percentage or our population is in prison than any other country in the world, with vast disparities in the incarceration rates for people of color as compared to those who are white
- a situation in which women are underpaid and in which women’s healthcare is under-supported
- a situation in which we treat drug use as a crime to be punished as opposed to a problem for both persons and communities that requires access to affordable and compassionate treatment
- a situation in which a handful of corporations own most of the major media outlets and in which news is more often propaganda than not
- a situation in which our religions, our race, and our places of birth are used to divide us (for the people and powers who benefit from the established environment know what will happen if we are not divided)
- and a situation in which we are the only country in the world rejecting the global consensus of climate scientists that climate change is real and caused primarily by human activity.
No, we did not simply get here by accident. Our situation, our current established environment, is the result of planning, strategy, organization, and massive amounts of funding. It is the result of a major and well coordinated project of systemic transformation implemented by some of the most wealthy and powerful persons and corporations in our country and the world. Until we come to grips with the fact that we didn’t just get here by accident, we will likely never be able to recognize what it will take to move us from “here” to a future in which a more flourishing community is possible.
Moving from “here” to that more flourishing future will be one of the most difficult and challenging things we will ever do as a society, but it also has the potential to be the most life-giving, joyful, and world saving work that humanity has ever witnessed. One thing is sure – without this work for systemic transformation, the “here” we are now experiencing will only get worse. Our challenge, our mission, is to figure out how we are going to get from the “here” of our current established environment to the “there” of a more just, peaceful, participatory future. The good news is that the systemic change required to get there is possible.