How Change Happens

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Change doesn’t happen through protests, hacky sack circles, drumming circles, dancing around fires, vegan potlucks, raves, free speech gatherings, hanging out at Saturday market, getting stoned, going to Rainbow Gatherings or Burning Man or other festivals, sitting in trees, vandalism, bumperstickers, or by sitting and bitching about how things are.

The only people who truly have a say and who have votes that are truly counted are politicians. The more progressive people who can see the bigger picture and not focus exclusively on pet issues and can get into any kind of political office, the more things will change. If we can’t run, then we should organize and support those that can and do.

All the stuff I mentioned above is nice and we can do them for fun, but they don’t make change happen. If all we’re doing is those things, then we’re doing nothing productive towards actual positive change. No matter how nice it makes us feel, when we go home that night the world will be the same.

If, however, we hold some type of public office; and if there are others who share our beliefs that also hold office, then our votes together on the issues on the table that day can make a change in the world, every day. When we go to bed that night, things will have changed with our help.

It’s how Fundamentalists get what they want into law. They are organized and put aside smaller pet issues and they run for office with a huge support base. They don’t let things get in the way such as whether or not the candidate or the people they are organizing with are vegan or not, or if they might wear fur, or otherwise fit into every belief they have. They focus on what they want to get passed into law, and they vote, and they support their candidate. I don’t mean Presidential candidates. I mean small local offices.

To make change happen, we show up at local State and County meetings and make our voices heard. We tell our representatives what we want. We educate people about propositions and other things on the ballot. We’re personally involved.

We must also be respectable. Show respect, even to those we loathe, by showing up well dressed, well spoken, and even-tempered. Showing up with dreads in a tie dye and shouting slogans will have only one effect: it will get us ignored. Those in the system pay attention to those who at least appear to be somewhat like them. It’s a small price to pay to actually get one’s voice heard and listened to.

It’s not giving in or selling out. It’s acting. If I show up in a suit at a State Council meeting and speak plainly yet firmly, while not being rude or “out there,” then my words at least may be considered. And I still go home and be myself. If many people show up in this way, our words WILL be considered. If a person starts shouting and accusing and being disrespectful, they’re only going to harm the process, and make themselves look stupid as well.

It’s okay to be angry. In fact, we can use that anger constructively to give us passion and fuel our desire for change. However, letting it simply explode in accusatory bursts only erodes the respect we might otherwise have had.

We also need to learn to speak “their” language. When it comes down to it, politics is about redirecting money towards oneself. If our arguments an help politicians understand how they can profit progressively, then they become quite willing to listen. We must also be willing to compromise a little. Get what we want gradually and not expect some massive bill that’s the opposite of the Patriot Act to come through, because that just won’t realistically happen. Like the fundies, we can insert bits of what we want here and there and it builds up over time. After all, with all that has happened, progressives (or at least those who aren’t hardcore, far-right) are the majority now.

So, change the system from within by day, and at night we can dance and let loose, knowing we earned it!

© 2015 William Suphan

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