Pushing The Positive
Spring is truly here now; buds are bursting and blooming, birds and frogs are singing, the nights are warming up, slowly but steadily. Everywhere I turn there are sweet scents on the air. My starts and seedlings are growing happily. The plants that have returned to the garden have revealed themselves; where others passed on, the soil has been refreshed and new plants are settling down to the business of new growth. My space is very limited in this garden, so there are choices to make; there’s not enough room and resources to support endless growth. Thus, some plants that might have made it got yanked to give something else a chance. A few weak yet wonderful plants were moved to more comfortable situations in containers, but anything less than stellar went to the green waste or compost bin.
As I choose what to make room for, what to coddle, and what to recycle, I find myself hoping that we as a society will find the strength and courage to do this on a larger scale. The endless growth model of capitalism just doesn’t work when resources are finite. It’s been fascinating (in an infuriating way) to watch huge corporations grab the lion’s share of government bailout funds, while thousands of small businesses are left to flounder. Like many others, I find myself wondering; if capitalism is so successful, why do mega-corporations require government bailouts every decade or so? Hmm? In the garden, the players that are allowed to stay are the biggest contributors; either they work hard, produce or bloom a great deal, or they are utterly enchanting.
What’s a working plant? Trees clean the air, capture carbon, and offer homes and larders for lots of critters, so if they’re healthy and well placed, they stay. Native shrubs are also habitat for native creatures, and many are beautiful to boot, so for the most part, they stay, as do most native annuals, perennials and bulbs. Hardy herbs are useful in the kitchen, as traditional medicinals, and are terrific pollinator pleasers, so they stay. Edibles stay unless they require more space or more fussing than I can provide. Ornamentals stay if they are utterly enchanting for more than two weeks a year. That seems fair, right? In return, I supply balance; I provide good soil, compost and other soil conditioners, and adequate water. I also control weeds and keep rapid spreaders from taking over. If the garden gets out of balance, my work load goes up and the pleasure factor goes down. That’s how good governance works.
In our society, it’s time to look at business the same way. If our economy is based on a flawed model, it will flounder and fail repeatedly, as we see. It’s perfectly clear that multinational corporations don’t care about the well-being of the people in any of the countries where they are based (usually in order to avoid paying taxes and to take advantage of resources that belong to other nations). When we choose to support small businesses, local farms, family restaurants, regional banks, we support each other as well. In 2008, when world banks were in trouble, Iceland allowed their largest to fail (and also sent most of the top executives to jail for fraud). In the aftermath of total economic collapse (in three days), a band of savvy women took over the country and brought in reforms designed to foster the public good. Iceland recovered and is now well protected against similar abuses, the kind that flourish in American, the UK, and lots of other capitalist cultures. That’s how good governance works, right?
Despite the obvious, painful, and too often fatal consequences, this Great Pause created by coronavirus19 has its positive side. Skies are clearer, water is cleaner, ecosystems are showing signs of recovering faster than anyone had imagined possible. The huge ozone hole over the Arctic has healed already. People have per force slowed down and at least some of us have started seriously thinking. (And some people are seriously drinking, certainly understandable but not especially helpful). Both thinkers and drinkers are wondering what on earth is going to happen. Great question, and I don’t know the answer, but I do know this: what happens is on us. The future is ours to shape and it won’t just magically happen.
One of the hardest parts of the lock down stay home shut down orders is feeling helpless. It’s vital to our sanity and health and to the health of the planet that we remember that we are not helpless. Watching the current regime work its worst on the world, on the American people, and upon the planet is gut wrenching and horrifying but we can’t allow the destruction to be spirit crushing. We do have power, more than we imagined. Yes, voting is a valuable tool (or has been, during fair elections), but it’s not our only tool. Public opinion still has power, as we see when the current POTUS stops offering nightly insanity tips because of enormous public pushback and ridicule. Weirdly enough, though the members of current regime don’t care at all about our welfare, their skins are thin enough that refusal to let rampant idiocy pass unnoticed stings. Exposure of dirty tricks like paying foolish stooges to protest shut down orders stings. Calling out malfeasance when elected officials assist corporations to rob small businesses stings.
The Shame Game
Shame, however, only seems to work when it affects a bottom line; thus, if we want to change “their” behaviors, we must change our own. Given that so many corporate and governmental behaviors are overtly shameless, we have to study the keys to effective manipulation carefully. First, watch and learn; many things that I personally find shameful seem perfectly acceptable to the current regime and its followers. Calling those out obviously doesn’t change anything. So what does motivate them? The fear of the loss of our business. Yup. If we want to scare the pants off corporations, we can vote with our pocketbooks. Boycott any big business, however inconvenient (hello, Amazon), that values money over people. And make sure you bring a bunch of people along for the ride.
It’s also time to put steady pressure on the Democrats. Where the hell are they? A few governors are standing up (thank you, Left Coasters), but we are not hearing anything like enough from our elected officials, from senators and congressfolks down to the local school board. Let’s call and write (using letters and stamps, to help the Post Office!) and demand statements and action both. Speak out, speak up and make sure our message is clear; we want American to be reformed from bottom to top, with government by and for the people, not Citizens United. I’m so damn tired of being angry. I want so deeply to be FOR people and principles and platforms that promote social, economic and racial equity and justice, health care, education, freedom, and peace for everyone. It’s on us. Onward.