When did it happen? How? A small gathering in Zuccotti Park? Ten sleeping bags? Or was it Cairo? A different language. Same problem. Even worse. Was it the 2008 Crash? Or the hope of Obama, dashed as the Geithners and Summers swept in after the swearing in? Or was it Reagan sworn in, followed by his parade of massive deregulations, buttressed by Clinton, then Bush, while CEOs salaries skyrocketed and war was (more or less) declared wherever there was oil? And greed became our religion, presided over by a bought and paid-for Congress, White House, Media?
It doesn't really matter how it happened, because here we are. Something has shifted.
History is back, ready or not, with her massive gears slowly turning. But what does each of us do about it? All those signs in the Occupy-So-Many-Cities-Across-the- Globe, with so many different grievances -- why isn't there some clarity here? Why? Well, because there ARE so many grievances. There ARE so many things to fix.
That's where we are: so many things to fix.
That's our plight/challenge/curse/blessing. And nobody's going to do anything about it at the top because they're fat and happy with their salaries, jobs, private healthcare plans, pensions, private jets, swimming pools and marble bathrooms.
But history is back. So what do we do about it?
Well, we can march and protest and live in sleeping bags and tents. This is completely legal in our country (and in most of Europe). It's legal. And important. Our forefathers were clear about this. Very, very clear. It's how it all started with clearing up the British problem.
Marching and protesting are legal in the United States of America.
But marching and protesting only get you so far and we still have a democracy on the books here, so why not use it? Really use it? Why not take a deep breath and...
...RUN FOR OFFICE this election cycle. LOCAL OFFICE. Are you working part time? Are you unemployed? Are you a graduating student and know (finally clearly know ) that there are NO JOBS out there, except for mowing your parent's lawn (surrounding a house that may soon be sold off)? Or are you that parent, who's about to lose his/her house, along with your pension?
Why not RUN FOR LOCAL OFFICE? What else have you got to do?
Forget national politics, as Howard Schulz, the CEO of Starbucks, has been urging. Forget it! That's a billionaire's chess game. And forget Congress and the Senate. It's millionaires playing political polo with each other.
The real game in town is in YOUR town -- local city councils, town mayors, county commissioners. LOCAL. LOCAL. LOCAL. Are you a returning vet? Run for sheriff. Are you a parent upset about your kids having no computers in school? Run for the school board. A math geek? County treasurer. Take a look at what offices are available in your neighborhood and RUN.
You wanna fight corruption? Look in your own back yard, where the developers and corporate franchises buy and sell the local politicos like hot dogs. Where do your local tax dollars go? You'll shudder. But stop shuddering; stop complaining; stop being depressed and giving into a sense of mass hopelessness - RUN FOR OFFICE.
Start running now. There's time. Lots of time and lots of help (more on that later). Democrat? Republican? Independent? It doesn't matter. Enough of the hate and name-calling.
Stand up for what you believe and do it with grace and at least little confidence (we're all scared when we try something new). Ask your friends for help - money, time, advice. Ask your parents, your children, your grandparents (or grandchildren) or that rich uncle who can write a big check or the poor uncle (or aunt) who can go door to door.
Let's take back our democracy one house at a time. It's time.
History has decreed it, as with our rag-tag forefathers. Let's get back a little gumption. Let's swallow down our sense of mass meaninglessness and bring back individual meaning to what can (once again) be a great country and a great back yard.
Follow Stephen Gyllenhaal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephgyllenhaal
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