paradoxically hopeful

from Avedon Carol:

Are there credible national governments at all in the west anymore, or are we all under the thumb of one great big international corporate oligarchy? Is there much [that] any individual country, let alone one as seriously weakened as the United States is now, can do to recover state power and vest it in its people?

I don't know. (And that's just assuming the environmental damage isn't as far gone as it is beginning to look like. Archeologists find whole civilizations buried under layers of sand, or under water. We could be next.)

I look at how much there is now to undo, and I wonder if that's possible. I know democracy is fragile, it doesn't just naturally occur. It took a near-miraculous combination of luck and bloodshed to create ours, and it's never been anything like close to its ideals. But I don't want to see us go back to what we had before that, and I know that would be very, very easy to do.

All over the world, we've seen people rebel against unjust systems in the hope of achieving greater freedom, and instead they just get new strongmen, new kings, new czars, new politburos, new juntas, new Talibans.

more hope:

  • - The World Without Us:
    Paradoxically, it's the fact that Weisman envisions the Earth enduring that becomes motivation for us to change our ways. The twist, of course, is that his imagined happy ending for the Earth only comes about because mankind is absent. Yet this isn't depressing, as one might think, but oddly inspiring. Weisman concludes that many of those happy endings are possible even if humanity doesn't disappear -- as long we curb our appetites and our population. And even if we end up causing our own extinction, it is profoundly reassuring to think that the Earth will not only survive, but flourish.

  • A Poor People's History 1600 - 1940:
    Poverty in America is a paradox. Poor people in the midst of the richest country in the world clashes with our idea of what America supposedly represents. Most Americans choose to believe that poverty is a minor problem touching only a few unfortunates. In the face of facts that suggest otherwise, most Americans believe they are middle class. Many of my students, most of whom are children or grandchildren of working-class parents, seem to identify with the wealthy, believing I suppose, that they too will someday become rich. Consequently, they tend to view poverty policy and programs as issues that are remote and removed from their personal lives. Poverty programs are for “those people” and only need concern us when we want to express our disapproval or compassion. This view is not consistent with the facts.

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