Message for the times: Stand Up!
Stand Up!, Gordon Whitman tells us, “is a guide to answering the knock at your door asking you to join other people to change the world.” Millions of people are doing just that; activism is resurging at every level of society, including your community. Join in.
A local example:
The evening of Trump’s State of the Union address, the Social Action Committee of Temple B’nai Brith in Somerville offered a compelling program. The evening began with a screening of Frontline’s “Betting on Trump” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8X4qDDgj20&list=PL_pPc6-R9ZzZAb_MFeVVSWlt2L3YyqpL), which focused on Trump voters in a declining coal mining town, a dying industrial city, and a drought-stricken farming area. These were not racist, anti-immigrant, or hateful people, but rather desperate family members seeing themselves abandoned by political leaders offering no hope for change.
The evening’s discussant was Michael Connolly, who grew up in public housing, attended college on a football scholarship, and ran successfully in 2016 for the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Mike pointed to some remarkable realities: The life expectancy of middle-aged U.S. white men has declined in recent years. Over the last 10 years, the suicide rate in Massachusetts has risen 50 %. Nationally, all the gains in private wealth have gone to the wealthy. In Boston, the wealth of the average person of color is $8. The majority of people under 35 have no faith in capitalism.
Mike pointed to the rise of neo-liberalism, which takes from the public realm to give to the private sector, and promotes austerity as the solution to problems. The state of Massachusetts is now operating with a budget more than $3 billion smaller than 15 years ago.
Mike argued that we should be working toward a society where all people are guaranteed healthcare, housing, and education. Just think! For only $300 million a year, we could make all public universities and community colleges tuition-free in Massachusetts.
Some audience members had gathered signatures to put the Fair Share amendment on the 2018 ballot. The amendment would levy a 4% tax on people with incomes over a million dollars, raising revenues of $2 billion annually. Those revenues would allow Massachusetts to provide a decent life to many more of its citizens.
If you would like to see greater educational opportunity, less income inequality, and a more just society, be another first responder to Stand up with others who seek those goals.