With the collective anger and protesting going on recently, I've been trying to wrap my brain about how I feel about it all. On the one hand, I'm sympathetic. Yes, bad stuff has happened to good people who didn't do anything to deserve it. I understand the anger and the frustration and the desire to place blame.
On the other hand, I don't think we (as a nation; as this 99%), or at least most of us, have really taken responsibility for our part in the state of things. So, instead of grabbing poster boards and markers, I'm taking this opportunity to evaluate my part in this. To make choices. To educate my children. Of course, my kids are little, but there are still some very important lessons I can teach them. Mostly, I try to teach by example (as much as I can, I'm not perfect at this by any means), but if I were to sit down and give them a lecture, these are a few of the things I'd tell my children:
- We ARE the 99%. Vote. Do not limit your vote to the two choices presented by the mainstream. Do not let me hear the words "throwaway vote" come out of your mouths.
- Give as much (if not more) thought when voting for your local officials as for national positions. Those choices will most likely have a more direct impact on your life, and these are the people who will one day run for "bigger" offices. Get to know them now.
- Vote with your dollar. Every dollar.
- Become a producer, not just a consumer. Give something back to the world and your community, whether it be your time, ideas, art, or goods.
- Support local. Grocers, banks, hardware, restaurants . . . everything you can find. The people who work at these places recognize us and talk to us like we're old friends. We get good deals, and we help keep our local economy strong.
- Avoid all things processed and subsidized. Buy whole, organic foods whenever possible. Visit and tour local farms. Shake hands with and get to know your local farmers. Thank them every weekend for providing high-quality goods.
- Think carefully before you sign your name on any document. It is not a bank's job to decide how much loan you can afford.
- There are very few basic human rights. Despite what people may say, food and shelter are not among them. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's it. Don't let anyone take those away. Everything else you must work for.
- Family. You know the saying about it taking a village? Stay close to your village, or make damn sure your create a new one if you move away. Always have a community of friends or relatives you consider "family." People you look out for and who have your back. Take care of each other, and when times get tough, carry each other through to the other side.