How does a journal that calls itself YES! respond to times when there is so much to say “no!” to?
In the first days of the Bush administration, things aren't looking good for the biosphere, for kids, for women, for those not wealthy, for those on death row, and for our coherence as a society. Tax cuts for the wealthy, schools regimented by standardized tests, a massive military build up, and every indication that an oil exploitation boom rather than renewables and conservation will constitute the Bush energy policy. This follows on the eight Clinton/Gore years of environmental decline, failed global warming policy, massive build-up of the prison-industrial complex, and policies that bolster corporate globalization.
Neither the “D's” nor the “R's” are providing the kind of leadership we need as we enter the new
millennium. Neither is taking seriously the environmental limits of a finite planet, nor asking how far you can push people into insecurity and poverty before community becomes impossible and democracy a joke.
The good news is that people all over the US, and all over the world, are recognizing that leadership is no longer coming from the old institutions and power centers. Instead, they are making changes themselves, examining old assumptions, trying out new ways of life and new ways of organizing themselves.
This citizen leadership is taking many forms. Some people are resisting policies and practices that are making things worse. In this issue, for example, you'll find an article by Weldon Bello on the global movement against corporate globalization, and another by Bill McKibben on the need for citizen action to address climate change in the wake of the collapse of inter-governmental talks in the Hague.
Others are focused on the pro-active work of building the foundations of a just, sustainable, and compassionate future. We will cover some of the resistance efforts. But what we at YES! especially want to offer you is that we will “keep our eyes on the prize” and tell you the stories of people building the new ways without waiting for permission from those in power or a change in “leadership.” We will do this because we want to en-courage those who are working every day for our common future. Because there are so many experiments, visions, and prototypes of a more just, sustainable and compassionate society that we want to celebrate. And because we want to explore how this outpouring of creativity weaves together into new possibilities for the communities of life on Earth.
In this issue, we focus on innovations in the area of work. There may be no other place where the contradictions between our values and aspirations are more at odds with our behavior. As Bob Black points out, our jobs can require that we give up our rights, our autonomy, even our dignity to create products and services that may be meaningless, useless — or worse.
This experience of work is profoundly at odds with what work at its best is about. Work can be an expression of our unique gifts, a way of contributing to the common good, a way to engage deeply with a community of people.
Sometimes we feel trapped in jobs that have none of these qualities. But whether rich or poor, young or old, we have alternatives. We can choose to live more simply, cut expenses, get out of debt. We can work less at a job, and more at the things we love. We can create new businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofits aimed at making a positive difference or transform existing work places. We don't often admit it, but work can be among our greatest sources of joy and contribution, as well as an arena full of challenges and “growth opportunities” (particularly if we include parenting as a form of work!)
As you read this issue, ask yourself what you would wish for if you could do any work you wanted. Not what you would settle for. What do you really want?