You’re upset. I can feel you seething through the computer screen. And all you’ve been doing is reading the news. You look around and wonder why everyone isn’t as upset as you are. Looking even further, you’re wondering why all of society has yet to erupt in a firestorm of indignant rage.

What got you? Was it your democratically elected government spying on you? Was it bonuses and federal money for Wall Street CEOs who speculated with your money and lost? Was it a friend-of-a-friend who died in one of America’s wars? Or was it someone closer? Was it the sneaking suspicion that your country is really the bad guy? Was it the vague sense that your democracy isn’t working, that your choices aren’t really choices at all? Was it something else?

Do you look around at the people you know, the people you happen upon and want to shake them awake? Do you spit fire with your friends, talking about how everyone is a little lamb, how they are satisfied so long as they can get their ice cream bars at Wal-Mart or put gas in their SUV? They don’t realize that people are dying! They don’t seem to care that they’re being taken for fools, that they are just cattle, the property of some banker or politician and they are being led to the slaughter!

What did you do about it?

Got you there, didn’t I? You know as well as I do that sitting around with your buddies, whining about Obama or the NSA isn’t going to change a single thing. You feel powerless. You’re no less a cog in the machine than the rascal-riding Wal-Mart shoppers, stuffing themselves to the brim with government-subsidized high fructose corn syrup. Your best option is to be some corporation’s robot—work, consume, work, consume. Your worst option is to be cannon fodder in some rich guy’s war. 

Now that I’ve got your attention, you’re starting to get antsy about where I’m going with this. “When is he going to tell me what to do?” you ask.

But you already know. You just don’t think it’s worth it. You don’t think anyone will back you up. You saw Occupy fizzle. You’ve seen how everyone thinks the Tea Party is crazy. Maybe you went to a protest or two and you didn’t fit it, or you thought they were on the wrong track.

Maybe you’ve got the wrong attitude.

You’ve got to fight fire with fire. How do the politicians have power? How do lobbyists get anything done?

They make friends.

As individuals, Obama or Ben Bernanke or General Patraeus don’t have any more power than you do. They must rely on their friends and associates, who in turn must rely on their friends and associates. They all scratch each other’s backs and share the wealth and power. Each has their own group who jockeys for power and influence. Society becomes a kaleidoscope of interests—PACs, political interest groups, think tanks, lobby firms, associations, churches, non-profits, corporations, unions, human rights groups and more. They all want a piece of the pie. It’s part of a system of ethics that underpins the way in which our society currently operates. We can do it too. We’ll have to.

“But they’ve got all the money,” you argue. “They’ve got all the guns,” you fret.

We’ve got all the people.

At some point soon, when there are no more ice cream bars left at Wal-Mart, and no more gas to fuel the SUVs, and no more willing soldiers, when it becomes clear that the cries to upset the system aren’t coming from radical nut jobs on the ideological fringe, when the drip-line that feeds our media addiction, our junk food addiction and our dependence on government “help” runs dry, there will only be two groups: us and them.

Then, when the smoke clears, it will just be “us.”

So where does that leave you?

“Great, thanks for the pep talk Tom. I’m still just sitting here wondering what to do next.”

Start or join a group. Mobilize for results. That’s how it’s done.

Spread ideas. Share this blog or write your own. Wake those people up.

Start taking responsibility for your society. Admit to yourself that you’ve been complicit in every stupid thing your government has done during your lifetime. Can’t swallow that? Click here.

Go to a protest, even if it’s not about your pet issue. Eventually, all protests will be about the same thing anyway and we all would do well to acclimate ourselves to nonviolent resistance.

Don’t buy things from companies you don’t like. Save your money. Become more self-sufficient.

Be mobile.

Make friends. Talk, write, post to your Facebook or Twitter. Rail on and on and on and on. Talking to your buddies over a beer does help. But take it a step further.

The “system” isn’t working for you, but all of your fear comes from not knowing how to operate outside of the system. Learn it. Political work is hard work. But we live in a time where great courage and perseverance is required. From what I’ve seen from this generation, I’ve got every reason to believe that we’ve got what it takes.

In the next couple of blogs, we’ll talk about “change” and concrete ways to bring it about.

And if you are inspired but don’t know where to start, message me and I will brainstorm with you and point you to some great information.


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