by Joe Courter
When you are planning for a trip, you think about all that you need to know and do. How will you get there? Where you going to be staying? What will you need for food? Maybe consult the long-range weather forecast? That preparation ahead of time can make things go so much smoother.
Well, our trip has begun, the train has left the station. Not many of us had time to pack, and some people had been oblivious about their being on a train that might be departing that quickly. Turns out there was no preprinted schedule to consult. There’ve been rumors and speculation, but suddenly … All aboard!
Folks, the train we are on is heading down the track labeled Fascism. How authoritarian regimes rise has definite patterns. Corporations that value profits over people merge into the government, thus locking in their power. Fear mongering is used to create an internal enemy who must be repressed. Religion is used to underscore the fear mongering. Free elections are hampered in a number of ways. The judiciary becomes servile. A nationalist narrative creeps into education and the arts.
It is happening elsewhere than just here in Florida, but we are riding in the front of the train, and we are getting a good look.
So what did we bring? What did we already have that can prepare us for the days ahead?
That will be up to us to determine based on our own skills, desires, and commitment. But there are the things that may be inhibiting us, keeping us passive in the face of this assault on our sensibilities.
Societally, we have lost the strength of organized labor to raise all boats to advocate for better pay and working conditions. We have people advancing in governmental power, people willing to do the bidding of their corporate masters and/or work in the interest of their own tendency toward greed. Not a new phenomenon, but supercharged by Citizens United mega-dollars. The 24-hour news cycle and all the streaming distractions command our attention. And of course, the courts are getting majorly stacked against the interests of the people.
As people trying to fight back, our big problem is how we have normalized things that should outrage us. People are dying for lack of a health care system; not being able to afford care makes people sicker. We have a gargantuan military budget and we’ve normalized war and meddling in other countries’ affairs. Projecting force all over the world with actual weapons and economic weapons. Massive CEO pay while the minimum wage lags, and many people having no income at all. This is, indeed, an exceptional nation. No other developed nation conducts itself this way.
Within ourselves, we should at least become more aware of the things we may have skimmed over or missed, living in either unconscious or intentional ignorance. You don’t need to become a movement martyr, but being aware of the difficult lives others face may spur some solidarity and conscience raising.
Apathy and hopelessness is no way to live. We need purpose in our lives; it is how we evolved, how we built societies. Right now we are seeing rights being taken from people, and unionized labor is under attack. The forces of fascism are really bold, especially here in Florida. The takeover of New College of Florida in Sarasota, LGBTQ repression, women losing bodily autonomy. We need to shake off denial and see that “Yes They Can.” And they are.
We are in this together; stay healthy, stay loving, and need I say, be awake and ready to resist. This train is in motion, and we can’t pretend it is not.