Guest Commentary

We need to take a moment to save the world before it's too late

What made us collectively too hopeless, helpless and scared to turn around?

Nearly three-quarters of the people in the United States and--judging from the reaction I get when I protest the Iraq war on the street--the majority of Tucsonans believe our country's going in the wrong direction.

Our adventurous, freedom-seeking ancestors would be amazed that their kids are allowing a handful of self-serving tyrants to take charge of our inheritance and feed us some nonsense about how we must make sacrifices for the good of all. These same tyrants' lies have led us into wars of aggression and tricked our courageous young people into suffering and dying to make the ruling elite richer and the middle class poorer.

Activists in Tucson ask each other all the time, "Where is everybody? How do we get people involved? Why aren't college kids out on the street yelling to end the war?"

On the street, people tell me: "God bless you for what you're doing. I'd stand with you, but ..."

Single mothers clean, cook, pump their own gas, work two jobs, help kids with homework, fill out insurance forms, repay loans, make decisions and read all the labels at the market, choose a phone company, a car ... the list goes on and on.

Partners with 2 1/2 children could triple that list. They're so busy with their immediate lives that they hardly have time to "brighten the corner where they are."

UA students worry about how they're going repay their loans while they eat junk food on the run from jobs to classes. An hour of free time is not likely to be spent on the street with a sign; instead, they go to bed (sometimes to sleep), or to a game or movie to escape. No time to read The Nation, they tune into local newscasters referring to "fallen heroes" and "Tucson's finest, fighting for our freedom." Those college students think how good they have it by comparison and get sucked in to feeling grateful instead of outraged.

Retired folks, wondering what happened to their "golden years" (even after they made such careful provisions), choose to salvage what they can from what's left of their lives and close their eyes to the future.

We know where everybody is, and everybody didn't get there by accident. Money-worshiping tyrants prey on our collective goodness, our desire to please, to be appreciated, by doling out memorials and awards while they take as much as they can get and give as little as possible. Tyrannical religions, preying on our fear, cast God off into the sky to be worshiped instead of used: "Believe and be saved."

An activist understands we can look to the heavens for guidance, but only with arms, legs, brains and voices will we have the power to save and change our world. An old friend used to say, "I can pray half the night for God to do my dishes, but when I wake up in the morning, they're still there."

We need to do what we did in the '60's, but this time, we need to do it right. Now clean and sober, we need to look at what we're not doing to change the system. Nothing is more powerful than good people doing something for the collective good.

We are the majority of the people in the United States of America. We can change the world.

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