The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


December 5, 2011

Protest and Celebrate

My Turn: David Kristjanson-gural

What we’ve all agreed is the problem is the way that we are being disabled by the 1 percent. After all, if these folks had not conspired to rig the financial system in their favor, we would all have approximately 50 percent more income to use to help us meet our needs, and at least 20 percent more time. That’s one extra workday a week, and, for many families, one extra income. So our efforts to restore sanity and justice to a system gone mad are hobbled by the insanity and injustice of the system we are up against. I get that.

It makes perfect sense to be thrown off balance. Our hearts are telling us something is true that our minds simply can’t comprehend.

Here is the rub. Our inaction is the only guarantee of our defeat.

This week, in Durban, South Africa, the representatives of the global poor are dashing themselves on the rocks of those who represent us, the nations of privilege, desperately hoping to get our representatives to see reason. I listened to Apisai Ielemia, foreign minister of Tuvalu, whose nation will be entirely underwater in my lifetime, asking, in vain, only that we set and enforce a limit on what we are entitled to spew out into the air, the ocean of air on which we all depend.

The planet is warming and the polar ice caps are melting faster than even the most pessimistic scientists predicted. That’s not just bad news for Tuvalu. It means the storms we’ve seen this fall, storms that our neighbors in Bloomsburg are still recovering from, will become commonplace. It means that we can no longer depend upon the weather patterns we require to grow our food. We’ve seen the effects already on the bee populations, these unpaid, unsung heroes of the food system without which we would be hamstrung in our efforts to feed ourselves.

How many have already lost their jobs, our homes to this scandalous betrayal by our corporate elite? The only answer I can see is this: We have to act together. And we have to do it now. We have to act on two fronts. One is to interrupt business as usual in order to change the course we are on. This means challenging the priorities of the institutions we are part of and the institutions on which we depend. The longer we wait, the more serious the disruption to the planet and its people. The other is to continue to maintain and extend a safety net for each other, to mitigate the harsh effects of this increasingly heartless system on our community.

So I know it seems that coming together on a regular basis to hold signs and listen to each other can seem futile. But despair is the very glue that holds this immoral system together. And the only thing that dissolves that glue is our unrelenting determination to show up — to show up against the odds, against the dictates of our unmanageable schedules, against the ongoing demands of our children, our jobs and our marriages.

And, I know it is counter-intuitive, we need to celebrate. Yes, celebrate. Because unless we find some joy in this most perilous moment that we inhabit, we will surely be pulled under by the tides of resignation.

That is the reason I am asking you to continue to lend your support to the Occupy gatherings. If you can’t do anything else, just bring your homemade sign, and stand together sharing your abiding presence.

If you can’t do that, I get it, but please, somehow seek to make visible your continuing support for our courageous collective effort, the effort to create a world that makes sense for us, for the people of Tuvalu and for all those who come next.

David Kristjanson-gural is associate professor of economics and senior fellow of the Social Justice College at Bucknell. Kristjanson-gural has also been the principal organizer of the Occupy Lewisburg movement.

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