If your email inbox is like mine, it’s full of urgent messages to take action on health care, climate change, war, and plenty more.
It can be annoying. After all, we’ve got lives to live. But the simple truth is that what is happening this fall in the U.S. Congress and at international meetings is all about how we’ll live our lives for a long time to come. While we need to tend to our families, our work, our finances, and even ourselves, we also need to make our voices heard. This is a time for activism like none we have seen in decades. This fall holds lots of opportunities to shift the field of what is possible.
Driving the urgency is the Obama administration’s strategy of cramming a host of big issues into its first year. No matter how hard we worked during the 2008 election, our voice, our presence, our money is even more important now.
Legislation, rules, agreements, and treaties are rapidly moving forward that stand to change the very structures of our society. The corporate lobbyists know it, and they’ve shifted into overdrive. We the people are the only counter to the narrow interests of Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Ag, Big Nuclear, Wall Street Banks, and the many others that put short-term profits ahead of the well-being of humanity.
That our Congress is even discussing a federal public health insurance option or how to curtail greenhouse gases, that we have the beginnings of a troop drawdown in Iraq, and that we’re funding green jobs programs especially designed to include the poor is a tribute to the tireless work of citizen activists. The big money at the table doesn’t want any of those things.
So now is the time when we must take a moment to sign that petition, make that call to our representatives, write that letter to the editor, march in that rally, go to that teach-in, and give money to our favorite causes. We must do it once, then again, and again, and again.
And on the global front, let me note a number of important global/local mobilizations.
- October 24: Day of Climate Action. This worldwide campaign focuses on the need to get below 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, the level considered safe by scientists. (We’re now at about 392 and rising.) This action follows from the successful Step-It-Up Campaign that Bill McKibben initiated in 2007.
- November 28 to December 5: Week of Action. This is the 10th anniversary of the Seattle protests that stalled the World Trade Organization. It coincides with the time of the WTO’s next ministerial meeting in Geneva. Worldwide there will be protests, teach-ins, rallies, marches, and festivals to say “Our World is Not for Sale” and push for a future where the needs of people and the planet are respected. You can be part of these activities.
- December 12: Global Day of Action. The big United Nations climate conference will be held in Copenhagen December 7–18. At that meeting the countries of the world will determine whether we will seriously step up to the threat of climate change or just argue our way right over the cliff. In the middle of that meeting, a Global Day of Action will take place in locations across the globe.
We’ll carry news of these developments here on the newly relaunched YES! Magazine website.
While big money interests distort our national priorities, robust social movements are pushing back hard. So rather than being annoyed at all those emails, we must be grateful for the nudges. In the end, it is votes that count in our elections, and it is our individual and community actions that shift the field of what can even be voted on. We do have the power, but only if we use it. Here’s to one very busy fall.