Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why We Write

From Plato to Payne, Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr., the desire to communicate ones ideals, grievances, dreams, and aspirations, has motivated many authors to create written acts of defiance that have certainly not always been in their immediate selfish interest.

Martin Luther didn't have remuneration in mind when he posted his 95 Theses in Wittenberg.  Plato wasn't seeking a multi-book deal with movie rights when he penned The Republic, and Payne certainly didn't write Common Sense for money, hiding his identity as Anonymous, in order to avoid King George's noose. 

And Letters From a Birmingham Jail?   The Reverend King's jail house letter, a response to white clergy, who believed that King's movement should seek its social justice goals via the courts, and not on the streets, is a masterpiece in justification for civil disobedience against unjust laws.   What the letter is not, is a pablum for those who would have elevated him if only he would preach moderation in the pursuit of basic human rights.

A famous statement in King's letter, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" has been ringing true in 2011 for we fans of democracy, in America, and across the globe, as we have witnessed the struggle for freedom in Tunisia, Egypt, and across the Middle East.  In the Heartland of America, where I live, I can almost hear the "Star Spangled Banner", and feel the rush of pride as our most treasured export, democracy, takes hold in places that have no record of such an ideology.

But where do we find evidence of that American pride in representative government, when an entire state's citizenry is banished from their public cathedral of democracy, its Capitol, in contravention of state statutes, State and US Constitutions, and Court orders, as has happened in my own state?  

Where are the upraised voices of our indignant national leaders, on both sides of the aisle, Senators and US Representatives, Cabinet members, Presidents, past and current?  Where are the national media, who, with a few exceptions, have focused on the demonstrations' visual entertainment value, but have neglected to mention the dissolution of the first amendment rights of: speech, press, assembly, and petition for the redress of grievances.

I think, as a people, in the Midwest, we are coming to better understand our national leaders.  When we have searched for leaders among our elected national officials, it is as if we have played the  roles of the confused characters in Waiting For Godot, thinking that we will be saved by someone that does not even exist. 

Regardless of our national leaders' professions of love for our country, in spite of the oaths that they have taken to uphold and protect the Constitution, these "leaders" have decided, with cold, political calculus, that domestic subversion of the rights of the citizens, an injustice, not just "anywhere", but an injustice right here, in the middle of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, is a tolerable condition.   

Unfortunately, these national "leaders" have not learned the lesson of King, for they do not view injustice in Madison, in Lansing, or in Jefferson City, as a threat to justice everywhere.

Shut down the Capitol in Wisconsin?  That's alright.  Abolish cities and school boards in their entirety in Michigan?   Not a problem.   Repeal child labor laws in Missouri?  Kids don't vote - who cares?

WE CARE!  In Wisconsin and through out the Midwest, we are turning Walt Kelly's dictum in Pogo, that "we have met the enemy, and he is us", on its head.  Instead, it is, we have met our leaders, and they are us.

We're finding a leader in Senator Jon Erpenbach, one of the Fab 14, the Democratic Wisconsin State Senators who decamped to the Land of Lincoln, so that the electorate could take the time to understand, and gag, over the draconion Republican budget.  Senator Erpenbach stayed in touch with his, and other constituents, through his Erpenbach to the People Video Series on Facebook. 

We're finding leaders in Tony Schultz, a third-generation family dairy farmer, whose passionate speech, at the 100,000 person March 12 rally, the largest Wisconsin Capitol event to date, had people begging him to run for Governor, in a recall election that will happen in 2012.  And for those citizens who missed the oratorical fireworks, they can see it on You Tube.  

Mr. Schultz, from a small commnity, named Athens, reminds us of Jefferson's vision,  ". . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."

And yes, we are finding our leaders on the internet.  Michael Brown, a single dad from Appleton, whose A United Wisconsin to recall Scott Walker was founded just weeks ago, has spearheaded the Governor's recall, working sixteen hour days, with no pay, because he loves his state, and is concerned for the future of his son.  As of today, Mr. Brown's website, has gathered over 164,000 pledges for recall.

Wisconsin is finding new leaders daily, at rallies, at phone banks like those for the election of an independent Justice for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, JoAnne Kloppenberg,, and at petition drives for the recall of the Republican 8 Wisconsin State Senators,

These new leaders, like our famous agricultural wealth, are growing right here in the fertile soil of Wisconsin democracy.  The people have decided that they do not have time to wait for outsiders, so they have taken action.

And like many others, I feel it is time for me to take action, to do something beside walking around the Capitol, carrying a sign - and believe me, I do not diminish that first amendment exercise in the least.  But I need to do more.  So I have chosen to write. 

Why do I write?  It's not because I love technology.  This, today, is my first blog. 

I write because, like my fellow citizens, I too am no longer waiting.  I have an unquenchable want, a need, to repay those who have sacrificed so much, so that my children, your children, all of us - together, can pursue our dreams, with the protection of our constitutionally guaranteed rights.

I write, not in aspiration to join the exalted ranks of the above mentioned authors, those great minds of the ages.  I write, because I aspire to something else.  I feel compelled, as a citizen, of both the United States, and of the great State of Wisconsin, to shine whatever little light that I can into the dark recesses of our current government, and to show positive examples of people in the pursuit of the abolition of injustice anywhere, and the promotion of justice - and democracy - everywhere.


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