Take A Stand and Be Counted
When the little town of LeRoy, New York was put in the spotlight, Americans were inundated with news stories hashing and rehashing the few known facts about the case of the 15 stricken children. There was a loud cry of shock, disbelief, and certainly outrage against those deemed irresponsible for their actions or inaction. The failure of officials to keep a steady stream of information flowing continues to make people suspicious about the nature of the information. Why were there no reports made public? Why were results of testing (claimed to be carried out) not posted where the public could examine them and satisfy their need to know?
Americans have been exposed to toxic substances for decades. There are over 40,000 Superfund sites in the United States. Some have met their targeted goal for remediation, while others have not been started at all. Most Americans aren't aware of the severity of the threat made by 40,000 toxic sites. Unless they are one of the population immediately affected by a specific site, the average American is clueless about detailed health implications brought on by exposure to toxins in the environment.
And I'm not just talking about chemical waste burial sites. There are toxins in soil, air, and water, put there by manufacturers who cared little for the human lives to be affected, instead choosing to optimize corporate profits by cutting corners. While there have been advances in holding these slugs responsible for their actions, the going has been slow and arduous. Why is that?
The answer is not a simple one. We know the tired old story about the 1% who are raping the other 99% in an effort to keep building indecent profits, but it's not just them. Politics are usually one of the culprits for the damming of information flow. Many of our political leaders have personal financial stakes in the corporations doing the polluting, it's true, but there's the issue of economic stability. When local officials are faced with the task of protecting their constituents, they are not just responsible for health safety. Sometimes there is the question of economics. What will happen if information leads to a major employer in the area being forced to shell out money they can't afford? Will the entity shut down? Will they cut jobs? Will they simply move out of the area altogether?
A Voice That Can Be Heard
These are just some of the issues officials may be faced with in dealing with environmental topics. I'm not advocating that the American public should be accepting of decisions that choose profits over health. I'm merely pointing out that the judgment of those making decisions is affected by other factors. What has the largest and most forceful impact on situations such as these, is the response of the residents. By speaking up, by demanding information and action, the American public can control the direction of any issue. It's really a matter of numbers. The more pressure placed by people exercising their rights, the louder the voice. The louder we make our voice, the more noise we generate. Everyone knows, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
But how do we get our one tiny voice heard? Most Americans feel as though there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish all that needs done in order to merely survive. We don't have time for calling our officials, knowing that we will most likely be put on hold for a lengthy wait just to speak to them. Most of us don't have time for picketing and letter writing. We count on those who do such things for a living. We expect the “activists” to handle the problem. They are the ones who write the articles, who mob the officials on the steps of the capitol buildings. They are the ones making television appearances. We cross our fingers that they will be able to make a difference, though we're pretty sure they don't stand a chance in the face of so much corporate money.
Here's a funny thing: for all the time Americans claim they don't have for exercising their political right to speak, we spend hours and hours engaged in participation of social media apps. We belong to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Digg, etc. We read what others have posted and we take the time to comment. We even pass on some of what we read on one friend's page by posting it on our own, or sending it off to our friends and followers. Usually what we're passing on is more of a personal social message designed to tell our friends what we did over the weekend or who we bumped into at grocery store. So, about that lack of time.....
This is a call to all who believe in their right to speak out, to all who want to have their tiny voice heard, to all who want to have their demands for justice met. Social media is a wonderful weapon against injustice. When people come together for a cause, great things can happen. It's now easier than ever before in history, to be heard by joining with others. And we don't even have to leave our homes to do it.
More and more people are getting their news from internet sources. We read articles from mass media news sites, from blogs, from websites of professionals and government agencies, from web magazines, etc. Most of these sites have buttons to facilitate easy posting to social media sites. When you read an article you find important, interesting, or informative, make a point of clicking the “like”, “tweet”, or “+1”. It takes but a split second to do so. By clicking these buttons, you are adding your voice to the issue in question. That one action of clicking can get your voice out to thousands more.
Take a stand, then stand up and be counted! (Now, go click that Like button!)