Another Country Heard From


from The Good Fight
Ralph Nader

Franklin Delano Roosevelt emphasized this in a message to Congress: "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism:ownership of the government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power." We would do well to heed this age-old wisdom as we ponder why our corporate and political leaders assume more and more control over our lives and futures.

[and later just one memorable, highly evocative sentence]:

Society, like a fish, rots from the head down.

[And a last notion from a bit later]

This vulnerability results from the absence of an absorbed information base to provide a shield against artful propaganda and deception.

In one context or another, we are all powerless. The society is simply too complex. Contemplating participation in power in most contexts--environmental, political, social, economic, technological--invites anxiety. Yet, to throw up one's hands in defeat guarantees anguish and deprivation. Individual obligation absorb daily time and attention, of course, but ignoring our civic obligation, our public citizen duties, profoundly affects our daily lives as well.

In a sense, I am obliged to participate in these debates to the extent that I can. I can't participate in all equally, nor will much that I have to say be particularly astute or profound. However, it is part of my duty as a citizen to be concerned about things beyond my front doorstep. For example, I am deeply concerned that most of the civic associations in local communities are more concerned about lawns with brown patches than they are about diminishing water tables and corporations that want to siphon off water to create "bottled water" products. The crises in Georgia and in Tennessee (it is hoped that they are transitory) point to the importance of wise, careful, and considered use of water. Creating a perfect magnificent monoculture--one long golf-course of lush green is not among these careful uses.

But that is only one example that springs to mind as a result of personal experience with these type of deed-restricted communities. Perhaps, as a result, I should be working with my local government to put restrictions on what kinds of things deed restricted communities can regulate. In some communities nearby, for example, it is prohibited to xeriscape your property. It is outrageous that we put in place restrictions on the plants that grow naturally in environment, favoring instead highly fragile, laboratory developed strains of ground cover (St. Augustine turf is NOT grass but a low growing exceedingly thick and unfriendly green vine). A small, small issue, but one that is something I CAN act on.

And so, look around you. Is there something you can do in/for your community that you've not yet started to work on?

One final note from Mr. Nader:

And civic motivation can start with our personal experience, from which we derive the public philosophies that nourish and animate our consciences. It can start with family upbringing, or a jolting event.

I don't know about nourishing and animating the fullness of our conscience, but they certain inform and help us articulate those things that occupy the civic portion of our consciences. They don't require that we change who we are, but they do require that we act upon it.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 12, 2007 7:59 AM.

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