Hi all! Welcome! We’ve been having these calls for 9 years, and I am just as excited to be here as I always am.
Before I get into the heavy stuff, I want to read a quick tweet that makes me laugh every time. It says:
The disturbing lack of time travellers arriving to stop 2020 happening suggests we never actually invent it. — Henry Sotheran, antique book store
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. Here in the United States, we call it independence day.
But you know what would make me want to REALLY celebrate Independence Day?
It would be to have a government that didn’t have in place systems and policies that actually kill their citizens.
We can’t live free if we can’t live. We can’t live free if we’re dead.
And there are 3 areas where this is particularly apropos.
- Racial Justice — racism kills
- Healthcare — from COVID-19 to Health Insurance, our current policies and systems kill people.
- Environment — lack of an organized strategy is killing people now and will do so exponentially in the future.
It seems like a simple request, right? Enact policies that don’t kill us. It seems like a pretty low bar. I mean, I’d also like to have greater equality everywhere — I’d like to fix wealth inequality, fix education inequality. Improve people’s quality of life.
But before we can improve someone’s quality of life, they have to actually be alive.
And sometimes it all seems so overwhelming, it’s hard to comprehend. How can we do something so big? How can we be real superheroes who fight people trying to kill us and others?
Our Environmental Call on Thursdays, run by Thaddeus and Carol, show how to take a big overwhelming problem and make it understandable, manageable, and less overwhelming. That’s no small feat when you realize Environmental Problems are ALSO tied to the problems of Racism, Healthcare, and Wealth Inequality. But no matter how big our environmental problems are, I always walk out of those calls feeling energized and like there is something I can actually do.
The problems may be big, but some the solutions are simple and easy: As an example — Wear a mask. The Gov of California, Gavin Newsom said this about masks:
Wearing a mask is a sign of toughness. Of resolve. A sign of someone who gives a damn. Who wants to solve a problem. Who takes responsibility. I think that is a beautiful thing.
The same antique bookstore that posted the time traveler tweet also posted
this quote from THE PRINCESS BRIDE: “Why do you wear a mask and hood?”
I think everybody will in the near future,” was the man in black’s reply. “They’re terribly comfortable.
Some solutions are symbolic, but I think are still important to create deep cultural change. Shaniyat Chowdhury for example noted that the 37 states that painted “Black Lives Matter” on their streets, only one state ended qualified immunity.
The white man will try to satisfy us with symbolic victories, rather than economic equity and real justice. — Malcolm X
But I think that symbolic victories help to mobilize people who otherwise wouldn’t become an activist. To help them people the systemic nature of these problems. To help them realize their ability to create change at EVERY level.
Let’s look at another example of a symbolic change is that the Washington Football team — whose name is a racial slur — is reviewing a possible name change after years of activism by Native Americans. Their protests finally gained traction when FedEx (who sponsors the stadium) and Nike (who used to sell a lot of their merchandise) took stands against the names. Continuing pressure on rich, powerful corporations are one way to enact change. Not the only way.
Will changing the name of a football team stop people from dying? I believe it will. There are two reasons — 1) Symbolism is used as a form of oppression and we have to undo harmful symbolism as we undo actual oppression. And 2) it is one small step in treating all people as human. When people are seen as caricatures, they aren’t seen as human. And we have to do that both as individuals and as part of the larger systems.
Also — understanding that racism, health, and environmental issues are economic issues. We have the solutions. We need to change the economics.
So this 4th of July — fight for racial justice. fight for better health for all. Keep environmental problems and solutions in the forefront.
Let EVERYONE LIVE. and only then will we be truly free.
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