Basket star and anemones, Vancouver Island, BC. Photo by Bev Dulis

The Magic of Millions
By Lise

For a long time now, a lot of people around the world have thought to themselves, things really suck. There's no way little old me is going to be able to fix them. In general, this tends to be true. But as activists know, when like-minded people get together in big numbers, things get different.

On Saturday, February 15, in the midst of a Leo full moon in a weekend of love, millions of people around the world stood up for a cause -- the cause of peace. Those millions of people made their voices heard through their peacefulness, huge numbers and the power of their message. If you imagine world politics as a giant chess game, it was as if all the pawns on both sides stepped forward at the same time. The people had spoken. It was impossible not to hear them.

To those of us who need to have the principles of collective action proved to us, these peace rallies should tell us something. A lot of little people saying the same thing at the same time gets noticed—by everyone. If the voice keeps up or gets louder, it may actually have to be reckoned with. And by applying sufficient pressure, people acting together for a common cause can actually change policy -- and history.

We are at a historic juncture in human history. We the people can choose to continue headlong down the road toward 'Modernity' -- life as we know it only more so -- or we can choose to turn toward a new ideal, that of creating the best possible life for people here in America and around the world, not because it's the right thing to do but because it would be easy and fun and everyone would be so much happier.

Think of it: quality universal healthcare, affordable housing, good schools, full employment, clean, sustainable energy and a healthy environment... Pipe dreams? Why should they be?

The fact is, in a democracy, we actually have the power to make these changes happen. All we have to do is insist upon them, without letting up or getting angry or otherwise jeopardizing our goal. Patti Smith has been belting this out for years, but she's right: People do have the power. A million people on the streets of the capitol will not only get you noticed, it will get you acknowledged, maybe even bargained with.

But open street protest isn't the only way. There are other things we can do.

One thing anyone can do, and it won't even get you arrested, is shop responsibly. The organic movement has been saying this forever, but now would be a very good time to apply the maxim: buy local. Buy everything you can local. Buy from small independent producers. Buy from locally owned businesses, craftspeople, services, and farmers. Buy organic. Look for the union label. Avoid kitschy plastic trash (and yucky plastic food). Let's fight consumerism in ourselves!

What will this get us? Well, we'll be helping our local economies, keeping more dollars around to maybe circulate back to us. If we're eating local food, we'll probably be eating healthier. Perhaps best of all, we won't be lining the pockets of soulless corporations or fueling the system of political patronage that makes this whole stupid mess possible. And of course we'll have the warm fuzzy feeling of both helping our neighbors by buying their stuff and doing a little something for the cause of emancipating the people of the world. All by shopping!

I've been a long time coming to this opinion but I really think these can be good times if we choose to make them so. There's so much we can do. We can stand up for ourselves. We can think for ourselves. And we can speak up for ourselves, using all the peaceful tools at our disposal. Our world doesn't have to suck -- people can have better lives. But we're going to have to make it happen, because no one is going to do it for us. It's entirely up to us. Here's hoping we take this chance and run with it.++

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