As our body politic tries to make sense of a most contentious and least substantive national election process, let me suggest we need more than jobs. What the world needs now, more than ever, is learning how better to live in community.
There is no need to argue that struggling, middle class people need good jobs. Yet, our visceral contentiousness keeps us and our leaders from finding solutions to the real threats to human community and life itself.
Here is a list of urgent threats facing society: 1. Devastating poverty; 2. Slow dismantling of U. S. public education; 3. Decreasing U.S. health rankings; 4. Financial industry and corporate control of local, state, national, and international economies; 5. Rapid disintegration of manufacturing industries (with exceptions for those that produce military hardware and guns); 6. The all too human fear response to adverse weather events from climate change with too little attention for cooperation in response to their causes; 7. Public denial of existing nuclear weapon risks; and 8. Public under-appreciation of the positive democratic energies at work in the 21st century “Arab Spring”.
There are no simple answers to these substantive challenges, but there is abundant scientific knowledge and accumulated folk wisdom that can bring us together. We are, all humans and other life forms, indeed an obligate community on our “single space ship” Earth. Rachel Carson, Carl Sagan, Jane Goodall, E. O. Wilson, and now the millions of Facebook and Twitter users make our interdependence vividly clear. They even help us overcome our fear and mistrust.
I expect the renewed nightmare of Columbine in Aurora and hourly exposure to the violent revolution in Syria will prompt more of us to overcome fear and join in finding solutions. We can make commitment to reducing violence, in our hearts, homes, and communities. These responses will make us better informed voters. And they may even influence our elected leaders to follow our lead. Once again “America” can demonstrate selection of leaders and guiding national directions through our ballots.
I even believe we will slowly make plough shares out of swords, improve public education, share health care resources, and help coastal communities near rising oceans as well as improve food production and distribution for our neighbors living in poverty and starvation. Fear is our enemy, not Democrats, not Republicans, not Libertarians, not taxes, not immigrants, and not even terrorists and “axis of evil” countries. Community participation and open problem solving are our friends. We have rich experience and wisdom for this work. Our “First Nation” neighbors have even more.
We are fully capable of living together in community. Indeed, that is how we continue to survive. Remember, you count and so does your vote. And, remind yourself daily that persons and communities are more powerful than money and corporations.
• Dr. Brown is a resident of Douglas.