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The Seattle Declaration: A Call for a New Civic Activism

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The following speech was delivered at Hempfest on Saturday, August 20, 2011 in Seattle, Washington:

Hello Seattle. On this day, in this place of great beauty we celebrate the beauty of nature The wondrous nature of each other. Our presence here binds us as a community. It empowers us. It strengthens us. We become most visible, en mass. We extend our reach. We sense new possibilities. And the creative spark which births action can usher in a new world.

Open America! Show yourself! Mass action! This is why, and how, recent movements for freedom in Tunisia and Egypt gained momentum. This is how Gandhi's march to the sea cast off the British Empire. This is how America's suffragettes gained for women the right to vote. This is how Dr. Martin Luther King's March on Washington became a pivotal moment in the history of the civil rights movement.

People became visible. They went to the streets. They linked arms. They marched. They sang: "We Shall Overcome." They walked the uplit path of social and economic justice. They marched to glory, not for themselves, but for generations to come.

We gather in a common determination for change. A sense of commonality of purpose awakens. An awareness grows. The moment arrives to exercise a new commitment to cast off an old order of things. This same awareness brought America's founders to put in writing a Declaration of Independence to proclaim "A New Order Follows." Today it is not a financial deficit that will bring America down, it is a deficit of public action. When people discover what happens when one person determines to make a difference and then merges with the many like-minded, new possibilities unfold.

Seattle, you understand this. Because in 1999, tens of thousands of citizen activists, including Teamsters and "Turtles," coursed through nearby streets on behalf of social and economic justice. They marched. They chanted. They sang: We Shall Overcome, and Solidarity Forever!" They spoke of Union. Acting in unity their presence was felt.

The Seattle WTO protests shined light upon the World Trade Organization's workings. Seattlites, union members and trade activists helped spark a world-wide awareness that trade agreements must have enforceable workers' rights, human rights and environmental quality principles. You identified the child labor, slave labor and prison labor that was driving international corporate profits. While the cause of justice in our trade agreements has yet to be served, you, Seattle brought it forward. You nurtured it. You kept it alive.

Large, intentional gatherings can be a catalyst for dramatic change. But only if we are prepared, as George Bernard Shaw wrote, "to dream things that never were and ask: 'Why not?' Let us dream about the America we want. And let us give our dreams firmament.

Let our dreams, our thoughts, become words. Let our words become deeds. Let our deeds bring action. Let our actions build a new America and a new world.

Seattle, you shook the world once, can you shake it again? Will you?

Are you prepared to declare and demand, here and now that it is time United States bring an end to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya?

Are you prepared to demand our troops be brought home?

Are you prepared to demand America end our world-wide military presence?

Are you prepared to demand America must lead the world in the abolition of nuclear weapons?

Are you prepared to demand the Patriot Act must be repealed?

Are you prepared to demand that government spying, eavesdropping, and wiretapping of law abiding citizens must end?

That our sisters' Right to Privacy be protected and decisions about women's reproductive health be between a woman and her doctor?

Are you prepared to demand that our brothers and sisters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered have equal rights, including the right to marry?

Are you prepared to demand we decriminalize and legalize marijuana, demand hospitalization not incarceration for those with drug problems?

Are you prepared to demand Not-for-profit Health Care for All?

Education for All?

Retirement Security for All?

Jobs for All?

Are you prepared to rescue our federal government from corporate interests by calling for a constitutional amendment which establishes only public financing of federal elections?
Are you prepared to rescue our planet, to protect our air, water, and land from further exploitation by demanding an end to drilling the earth, fracking the earth, cracking the earth, and end to poisoning the seas and the skies with carbon based energies, and a rapid transition to an environmentally friendly, socially responsible green economy?

This day, here and now, you have now voiced the Seattle Declaration. Let the sound of your voice be heard far and wide. Let your affirmations give birth to new actions, a new nation and a new world. Let your voice cause America to march. Let your voice cause America to sing. Let your voice cause America to seek new freedoms. Let your voice cause America to seek a newer world. Ours is a restless quest for freedom. We know wars make us less free. Fear makes us less free. Social and economic insecurity makes us less free. If it is for freedom's sake we gather, so then let it be for freedom's sake that we act!

Our individual desire for change carries extraordinary power to become more than we are. Better than we are. Forged in the human heart, ignited by love and passion for transformation, our common unity, our common purpose and our common action carry the power to change everything. This is the power of human unity. This is the power of our Oneness. Feel it. Own it. Act upon it.

Thank you Seattle.

-Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich