Getting Down With the Grassroots
It's difficult to participate in a system that is so frustrating. However, it’s necessary to effect change on every available level, and to exercise what rights an oppressive system still allows. Otherwise, corporations will continue to get their way, and the environment will not stand a chance as individuals become more apathetic to the events surrounding their lives.
In my experience as a grassroots organizer I sometimes lost hope in people. Libertarian Socialism, a philosophy which destroys the idea of a hierarchical system of control, and places responsibility within the hands of the people, seemed an impossible idea. However, not everyone is apathetic to what is happening around them, and in fact half of the people I talked with wanted to take some type of action, or at least listen and consider the ideas. The haunting question is why the other half of the people I met did not care at all. Their inaction tacitly allows their exploitation.
Apathy may rise from the fact that Americans are distanced from the causes of things around them, and at times the effects, as well. It is this distancing that allows people who don't believe in smoking to invest in the tobacco industry. After all, it’s only numbers on paper. Americans also have the tendency of looking at the short-term gains and effects, while largely ignoring the long term effects of their actions. If we looked more into how our decisions effect the future many of the problems in our world would not exist today.
Apathy comes from a world where we eat at local restaurants, which are actually multinational corporations owned by people we've never seen in a community we may never visit. The millions of advertisements that bombard us from Corporate America combined with the media telling us 'everything will take care of itself' also contributes to apathy. The media persuades people to trust Corporate America before they trust the real live people from their communities on their doorsteps asking for their support in a tremendous fight. Media propaganda makes people slip into a stupor which is difficult to awaken.
In my discussions with individuals I have found that many people vomit the same responses, excuses, and myths. Is this a coincidence? It was refreshing to meet individuals whose minds were not shaped by the media, corporations, or the government. Occasionally, I had the pleasure of watching the shades being lifted from people's eyes as they finally began to understand. There is hope in the strength of the numbers of people who do understand, and in the rising of those individuals who are learning.
Empowering people with their own voice is a powerful deterrent against the media propaganda that favors corporations and the government.
Robin Coe is a journalist and author. She wrote the fantasy novel "Fly on the Wall" and graphic novel "Illustrated Book of Wrath".