“How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry…. Yes how many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see….”
Whether or not you were one of the protesters in our youth railing against “the man” (corporate greed and corruption), or the pillaging of the environment, the majority of us still agreed that rivers burning with pollution and companies making millions (billions in today’s dollars) by exploiting their workers or the public at large, and forever destroying pieces of the earth for their financial gain, were worth fighting to fix.
And now, we’re the ones being protested against.
We are “the man” we so reviled as youth. We are the ones in charge of Big Corp that guts the middle class so that CEO’s can buy that yacht and third vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard; we’re in charge of a Congress that votes to bail out Bank of America with our hard earned dollars and then refuses to ensure that the entity cannot ruin our lives again; we are the ones who have turned our backs on the environmental gains made as a result of our protests, through lifestyles that are built on rampant waste.
Some say that we just grew up…that once the realities of making a living and raising a family kick in, idealism jumps ship.
Some say that many of us really didn’t care about those things as youth, so simply continued to live our beliefs (it’s not greed when it’s “capitalism” because we all hope to get rich someday; the earth is here to serve our needs, not the other way around).
But, even if either, or both are true, neither falls even close to a good reason for leaving our children worse off than we are, ensuring that the top 10% make and keep 93% of our country’s wealth while they continue to lay-off workers and off-shore jobs, or that pillaging the earth of her beauty and resources is right way to get our needs met…
So, to the former, I offer a suggestion; that we think “and/both” rather than “either/or” – we can strive to have a good life without gutting the earth and harming others in the process.
To the latter, I offer this quote, not by a Founding Father or a high profile preacher, but from a comic book of our youth: “With great power, comes great responsibility” – which of course we all understood to mean great responsibility to care for the less powerful, to use our own capacities to better the common good – not line the pockets of the few and the rest of society be damned.
And to those who say that there are just too many things “out of our control” so what’s gone wrong over the past decade or more is not our fault, I offer this idea to ponder: That which you believe to be out of your control…is, even those things that are well within it. Think Bank of America is a corporate leech? Close your account with them. Believe in global warming as a real problem? Drive a fuel efficient auto and demand/use recycyled goods. Angry about off-shoring our jobs? Then buy only “made in America.”
Our kids are taking up where we left off oh those many decades ago. Which they must, because we left off.