Confessions of an Activist
Editor’s note: Last month we learned about a How-to Book for Activists, Eric Liu’s You’re More Powerful than You Think. This month a dedicated activist looks at the issues and boils them down to a single issue which, if corrected, could eliminate the ills of society. Guest editorial by Georgia McDade.
Of the many posters I have seen at the March on MLK Day, the Women’s March, on social media and TV, my favorite is “There are too many issues to put on one poster.” I agree. But I think at least equally important is the existence of enough persons to correct all these issues. Really! One of the best truths of the March—actually truths about marches all over the world—is the great number of issues and the numerous similarities.
Dr. Susan Noyes Platt clearly states the situation: “As these two marches (MLK Day and Day after State of the Union) and the Northwest African American Museum exhibition celebrated, we are moving beyond the divisions of the past, embracing the idea that all causes are one cause; we must all work together to realize the world we know we must have.” The one cause is justice. The world we must have is a world wherein justice reigns. As long as injustice exists, problems, friction, war will exist.
Imagine what the world would look like if everyone had justice, the ones who now have it and the ones seeking it. If the ones who have it worked to see that the ones wanting, needing it received it, we could have a peaceful world. People all over the world are seeking to solve the many “issues” not named on that poster. I’ll confine my problem solving to the U.S. We can make it better, greater than the “Founding Fathers” ever dreamed because we know more than they knew.
I think our biggest problem in the world is lack of justice. For many of us—Americans and those not Americans be they inside the U.S. borders or outside—the president’s “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) means excluding us and/or persons whom we care about. I have never heard the precise period the president has in mind when he says “great.” But some of us are convinced that he means “Make America White Again.” The President has made many statements to support the belief that he wants the country to be white or, at least, whiter. He has insulted just about every un-white people that you can name: Mexicans, African Americans, Asians and Native Americans, among others. And no one should forget his designation for Haiti and African countries. If there is any doubt about his stance, he makes himself clear when he says he wants folks from Norway to come here.
Is there anyone out there who ever thinks America was “red” before it was “white”? No one listening to the Neo-Nazis would ever think so. Perhaps some Native Americans agree with the African adage the axe soon forgets what the tree always remembers. I do.
Did you hear about the restaurateur stating, on camera, that once upon a time, migrants wanted to be servants? “Now,” says he, “they all want to go to college!” Are his children servants? Do they go to college? Yes, when we learn we do not have to pick fruits and vegetables, that our children don’t have to chop cotton or pick fruits and vegetables, we do not want them to have these jobs. Why is he so surprised? Why do some persons believe what is good for them is not good for others? A woman told me years ago about the worst flaw of President Lyndon B. Johnson: “He made all of ‘those people’ believe they could have what I have.”
At varying levels are other examples of problems resulting from lack of justice and the power originating from the absence of justice. Do you know how many of the Fortune 500 companies paid no taxes or received six-figure refunds? What would have happened had Ride the Ducks gotten the axles on twelve vehicles replaced? What body agreed that the parents of foreign students should not be awarded damages in the death of their children? How many persons lost houses because of fraud on the part of banks? How many persons responsible for those housing scams are imprisoned? How many persons have been enrolled in colleges that provided no saleable skill? What’s fair about some persons getting pensions larger than the salaries they made and others who may have worked decades long at jobs they detested denied their pensions? Why is the planet—animals and plants, water, land, and air—in danger? Our multinationals damage one part of the world and move to another part. Fines barely touch their profits. Why do so many persons say, “Time’s Up” or “#MeToo”? How many lives would not have been negatively altered had someone reported Larry Nassar and Jerry Sandusky? We’ll never know how many lives these persons carelessly scarred.
I believe each issue could be solved if we applied justice. Each of us could choose a place we see injustice and begin doing what we can to end the crisis. We haven’t time to tell anyone to wait. We must begin immediately to solve the problems ourselves. If family and friends aren’t interested in our causes, we must reach out to others who are. Now you may wonder “How do I know what is just?” I have an answer! Ask yourself if you would sanction the incident if it happened to you or someone important to you. You would condone someone’s harassing your mom, dad, sister, brother, niece, nephew, husband or wife? The molesting of a child you love is satisfactory? Having someone trick your loved one out of money has your approval? Perhaps all of us would not always agree, but most of the time, we would. Each of us mentally sound individuals is charged with spreading justice wherever we are whenever we can.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.