January 24, 2013
President Barack Obama declared “we must take action” in his 2013 Inaugural Address. His words took me back to the day when I wrote something similar in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and to the many talks I have given since, urging readers and audiences not to wait for our leaders but for each one of us to take action every day.
Our president vowed to continue fighting for equality of women and for the rights of gays and lesbians, for immigration reform and gun control, for more income equality, against climate warming, to end the war in Afghanistan, protect social security and Medicare, advance our education system, and support the type of research and science that will establish new jobs. This was music to my ears. But what impressed me most was his constant call for “togetherness,” for us to get involved. As I’ve said many times in this newsletter, our leaders are vulnerable, they cannot do it – the corporatocracy has their number – it is up to us, you and me.
According to Obama “We must act knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years to advance the timeless spirit…”
The message is clear. Do not expect our president or our Congress to create a better world. Take on that responsibility yourself. Responsibility? Yes. Challenge? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. What can be more fun or more satisfying than creating a better world for ourselves and our offspring?
Now is the perfect moment to ask yourself: What do I want? Do I want faces on magazine covers of people who exploit workers, pay fortunes to lawyers and lobbyists to defend the status quo, and ship their money to overseas tax havens? Children raised on a planet where less than 5 percent of the population (living in the U.S.) consumes more than 25 percent of the resources? A world where violence escalates by the day and militaristic tactics against “terrorism” force us into a constant state of siege?
Of course the answers to these questions are a resounding “NO!”
What we want is a world where new economies are created – Life Economies instead of Death Economies. Where the models for our children are the founders and managers of institutions that restore ravaged lands and polluted lakes, promote sustainable energy, and help starving people feed themselves. Where no one is denied medical care and everyone is given the right to live out the last days of his or her life in dignity. Where people of all races and sexual preferences are treated equally. Where there are no more land mine victims because there are no more land mines, no more wars.
I have said before that “the choice does not lie with Barack Obama. Or any other politician. The choice is ours!” In this pivotal speech, announcing his final four years, the President urged all of us to respond to his own plea: “Our journey is not complete. We must take action.”
His message echoes that of our Founding Fathers and of other great presidents including Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Kennedy: In a democracy and a republic, We the People must shoulder the responsibility. It is up to us to mold the future.
There are many opportunities for you to contribute to improvements in our current political, economic, educational, health care, military, and other systems. There are many paths you can take. The important thing is to choose one, be persistent, and participate in this grand adventure. As Obama said, you can “set this country’s course.” And you must. We must.
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