Mar 03

“They Can’t Kill You and Eat You”

In Brief— A challenge and an invitation to step outside your comfort zone to make the country and the world a better place for all.

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Passivity is the Little Death—

We are being lulled into passivity. With the exception of a few of my readers who take an active part in bettering democracy and the world, most of us are too damned passive. We may sign petitions for worthy causes, but though that is better than sitting on our duffs and doing nothing, that’s not enough.

Some of my readers, though senior citizens, attend community meetings, call the White House to register their views and even travel to distant continents to assist the local citizenry in helping themselves in a variety of ways. That is genuinely laudable and is the kind of activism we need more of, no matter our ages.

By contrast, most of us vote and sign online petitions; a few of us contribute money to causes or organizations we believe in; we are all concerned about the state of affairs, particularly the political affairs that are destroying our democracy at the state and national levels. We are concerned about the exploitation and pollution of our planet. All this is good, but it’s not enough.

We all have excuses for our relative passivity. Partially disabled, I live in a foreign country and spend my time flailing electronically at what I see as unjust. Others say they are too old and tired to be an activist. Still others would rather garden or babysit the grandkids. We all have our reasons for not taking part in actively correcting the wrongs that plague our world. While these are good excuses, they are not enough.

Years ago, I complained to a friend that I felt I shouldn’t take a certain action that would mean stepping outside my comfort zone. His reply was, “So what, they can’t kill you and eat you.”  He was right then and his point is just as valid to today. If we extend ourselves more than we are now doing, those who may object can’t do more than object.

Actions Worth Taking—

What can you do to leave the world a better place than what you are doing right now? Some possibilities are:

  •  Volunteer even one day per week to serve food to the homeless at a soup kitchen.
  •  Be a poll worker or volunteer to register voters.
  • Walk a picket line or write a letter to the CEO at Sea World to let visitors and the corporation know that those dolphins and orcas that are held captive in little tanks belong in the ocean, not on display for corporate profit. You would be acting to end appalling outrages like the Taiji, Japan, dolphin slaughter and captures documented in The Cove.

If you want to learn more about these outrages and the need for action, read the Science Agenda in the March 2014 edition of Scientific American, “Free Willy—And All His Pals” (to read the piece, click on the preceding highlighted area) as well as my blog piece, “The Animal Kingdom Challenges Humans” that can be found in the January 2014 Archives.

  • Become active in the anti-fracking movement that seeks to preserve our planet from even greater damage than the energy industry has already inflicted. Water is more important to life than oil.
  •  Volunteer at an animal shelter.
  •  Become a Big Sister or Big Brother to some poor kid who needs guidance toward a productive adulthood.
  •  Volunteer at a hospice.

These are just a few of the many activities you might engage in to make the world a better place. After all, they can’t kill you and eat you.

8 comments

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  1. Marilyn, who is always interested in learning more about, and participating as an activist for, issues that she finds important to her, has inspired me to be more of a participant myself. One thing I have observed in our efforts to be more engaged and informed about our local Colorado political personalities and issues, is as follows:
    Today’s style of media coverage mandates that politicians must go to great lengths to be seen in the most favorable light possible within the confines of the ‘sound bite’, the flash edit, or the catch phrase, that attempts to sum them up in the shortest possible amount of time. You don’t really get to see them in a real-life situation. We have been in attendance at several public candidate debates and panel discussions concerning various State and local political issues. My lord…some of these guys really show their lack of knowledge, intellect, or frankly, honesty, when you see them in person. When they have to actually talk and address a direct question or point (i.e., think on their feet), some fall pretty short. Others shine in ways that you may not have expected.
    I urge you to attend these types of events if you care about the outcome of an election or a vote on a specific piece of legislation…. you might be surprised at what a difference this can make for your personal understanding of both the individual and the issue.

      • Don Bay on March 3, 2014 at 13:31
        Author

      Excellent! You are learning about not only the issues but the candidates. The candidates are as important as the issues and, in some cases, can be more important in the long run. Issues that are “hot” today may be less so later, but the candidates who are elected will be dealing with other issues during their time in office, so it pays to get a feel for the candidate at “meet and greet” occasions like the debates and panel discussions you mention.

      I have posted earlier pieces on this blog about the importance of reading the party platforms. It sounds boring, I know, but that is particularly important in this “off-year” election that too many eligible voters ignore in the mistaken belief that “off-year” elections are unimportant. The radical Right-wing knows just how important this November’s election is, and they are already preparing to fully take over the Republican Party. If that doesn’t scare the pants off you and underline the importance of “off-year” elections, nothing will. The observations in your comment are very important to the outcome of November’s elections. Fingers crossed that ALL eligible voters get to the polls in November as if their lives depend on it. They very well may.

  2. Here’s another bullet. Read most anything by Chris Hedges. He bemoans the loss of the liberal class, most of whom aren’t willing these days to take a stand about the corporate takeover of the US or much of anything else.

    No, they can’t kill us but they are eating us everyday as the income gap becomes ever greater and as the rights of everyone but the 1% are eroded daily.

      • Don Bay on March 3, 2014 at 18:51
        Author

      Professor Adolph Reed of the University of Pennsylvania has made the same point as Chris Hedges has done in his book “The Death of the Liberal Class”: that with very few marginalized exceptions, liberals have abandoned the field to those who drive America’s dog-eat-dog form of capitalism. Part of the reason for corporate America’s voracious dominance and the gradual disappearance of democracy is the gross inequality dissected with unassailable facts in Wilkinson and Pickett’s “The Spirit Level,” a book I heartily recommend.

      Stay tuned for my coming blog pieces on America’s descent into Neo-Feudalism and the mis-information foisted on readers by the mainstream media. Prepare to be shocked by realty.

    • Art Ulene on March 3, 2014 at 16:28

    Well done, Don…. and timely. Priscilla and I have been “checkbook active”…. stretching our budget at times to make donations to worthy causes….. and serving on the board of a free clinic in Park City (a fantastically wealthy town in Utah with huge numbers of working people without medical insurance—and who, by the way, fall through the cracks of Obamacare. They make too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to qualify for subsidies. This country is so out of whack. Anyway, checkbook activity just isn’t cutting it for us these days…. in part, because of what the financial crisis did to our checkbook balance, and partly because that really doesn’t utilize our most valuable assets….. our brains and labor. I appreciate the message. Will let you know what—if any—changes we make. (Let’s be honest….after decades of self-indulgence, it’s hard to change.) All the best….. Art

      • Don Bay on March 3, 2014 at 18:13
        Author

      Checkbooks are good and serving on the board of Park City’e free clinic is good, but they’re not as good as putting your “brains and labor” into making the world a better place. Some other friends, the husband being a doctor, traveled to Central and South America to minister to the poor people who lacked medical treatment. This may be difficult but gives an idea of putting brains and bodies to work in behalf of those with less. There is little doubt that there are places in America—even in Los Angeles—that would benefit from volunteer assistance. My few suggestions barely scratched the surface of possibilities. I derived enormous satisfaction from my years of legal counseling at the Los Angeles Free Clinic. Years later, people would stop me on the street to thank me for my contribution to their welfare. I have no doubt at all that you will come up with something you can do to benefit those less fortunate. Your observations are encouraging. Thanks!

    • Linda on March 4, 2014 at 21:37

    This reminds me of the time I walked into your office to tell you that I wanted to leave early one day as I was volunteering at my kids’ school. You smiled and thanked me for doing that! No one outside of the school ever thanked me for volunteering at my children’s school! You left me speechless! But, also, you reinforced in my mind how important it was and how it impacts, not just my children’s lives but others. I’ve adopted your manner and whenever I am asked for a donation for whatever cause or charity someone is doing a walk, run, bike ride for, I thank them for doing it as I make my donation.

      • Don Bay on March 6, 2014 at 17:47
        Author

      Those extra things we do, whether it ultimately redounds to our own direct benefit or not, help make our society a better place for everybody. This is one I think every parent should do: take an interest in what’s going on at that child’s school. Sometimes the child lets us know how school is affecting him/her. Sometimes, as here, a parent’s interest benefits all the children in that school. I’m glad my reaction reinforced your natural tendency to take an interest in what your children were doing. Fingers crossed that more parents realize how important their interest can be in what takes place in a kid’s day.

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