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Be Strong, Be Yourself
Mark A. Goldman                                                                              7/25/07

Every day I read commentaries posted at several well-known left leaning web sites. Some of the commentaries are eloquently stated points of view and sometimes usefully educational. All too often though, I think I can almost read the minds of readers as they ask themselves the natural response to much of what is written: "Well I agree with what this person is saying, but what can I do that would
really make a difference?"

Well here are some itemized points to consider in no particular order:

  1. Staying informed is no small thing. That in itself makes a difference.
  2. If you read something well written, understand that the author probably intended not only to inform you, but also to give you some ammunition that you can use to inform others and build consensus. That is, circulate and/or promote good stuff to people who you think need to hear the information.
  3. Two things are critical to transforming our culture in a positive way: a) people need to be well informed, and b) people need to align themselves with sustainable contextual values that have the potential to knit all members or factions of our culture together in a common bond. For example, two values we should all be able to align with are those expressed in the Constitution and/or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  4. Our government is broken and needs to be reinvented. If you are trying to make the Democratic or Republican parties better, you are probably wasting your time. Party politics in America is antithetical to enlightened self-government. Its influence forces individuals to abdicate personal responsibility in favor of The Party. We need a government run by responsible citizens who are in and of themselves steadfast in honor and integrity and not corruptible by money or unearned power... i.e., power that is inconsistent with the underlying values and principles of democracy, justice, and the common good. The framers were steadfastly against political parties (which they called factions.)
  5. No democracy or common goal can succeed where citizens are not well educated, secure, and personally responsible for its success. Any sustainable solution will make sure that all citizens have the opportunity for a good education, an adequate diet, affordable housing, health care, and other amenities that support a person's dignity and self-respect.
  6. No democracy can succeed where some people are treated with less dignity than others for whatever reason. Justice must be blind, consistently fair, and administered with compassion.
  7. We need to find new ways of promoting qualified citizens to responsible positions of leadership. This means we need to structure our society in such a way that institutions and citizens naturally cooperate to identify people who have demonstrated their wisdom and character in such a way that it qualifies them to lead and to serve. We need to make changes to the process of running elections so that the best ideas and the best leaders are encouraged to enter the political arena and are able to succeed if they do. Leaders are more than products to be branded and advertised to unthinking consumers.
  8. We need to restore our respect for the commons. These are tangible and intangible common assets that belong to all for the benefit of all, not allocated according to money but according to our universal human rights. Certain assets and certain rights should accrue to every member of society regardless of their economic or social standing in that society: we all have a right to... breathe clean air, have access to clean water, receive affordable health care, receive a free, quality education, and have access to other benefits that are consistent with basic universal human rights as already defined and conceived.
  9. To have the above, you will need to rethink your participation as a citizen. You will need to promote these values if you agree with them and to do so will require new kinds of social organizations and structures, which currently might not exist. We need to open our minds and hence our chance for success.

If you keep these thoughts in mind as you plan your strategy for participation, I think whatever you do will make a difference. Discard any strategy that does not support or is inconsistent with the overall context of what has been expressed. Success will require courage, determination, imagination, goodwill, tolerance and heart. You are capable of this. We need each other and we need to express the best that's in us. Be tolerant of others who might have a hard time with change. Be strong, be yourself.

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