There was an education rally in downtown Albany on June 8. My wife, who’s not prone to activities such as mass demonstrations, attended; so did her mother, and her brother and sister-in-law, which she didn’t know about until she ran into her brother quite by accident. New York in particular was one of two states that has opted to mandate these idiotic standardized tests for its students even sooner than the rest of the country. This despite the fact that the teachers, by and large, hadn’t been trained in it. I’ve said this before: the tests were a waste my daughter’s education time. (Here’s a defense of education spending.)
I get notices for rallies of one type or another, many of which I agree with philosophically, but if I attended them all, that would be all I do full time. Maybe if I ever work downtown again, or retire (as if)…
When I was younger, I went to countless events for civil rights and against the Vietnam war. No single event may have made a difference, but one felt that the collective effect of these actions might have had an impact.
The demonstrations against the Iraq war, in which I participate, obviously had no effect in preventing it. The Occupy movement, which I didn’t much involve myself with, may have had a longer-term impact than its critics have suggested; among other things, it’s gotten the term “the 1%” in the conversation. Whether that will lead to economic reform, though, is still an open question.
Maybe what we need right now is some mass demonstration against the massive government overreach that are these two sweeping U.S. surveillance programs of our phones and e-mail, in the US and abroad, just to make sure President Obama is quite clear that we don’t his benign analysis of our government’s intrusion. Theoretically, something could change; socialist Bernie Sanders and the Tea Party’s Rand Paul seem to be on the same side of the issue. (This is at least the second time this year I’ve agreed with Paul; the last time was on drones.) I certainly support the ACLU lawsuit against the Obama Administration Over NSA ‘Dragnet’ Surveillance.
Do you know who is gutsy? Rev. Stephen Heiss, a United Methodist minister in Binghamton, NY, my hometown, wrote a letter to his bishop admitting to actions that may cost him his job: “In the last few years I have officiated at several weddings for brothers and sisters who are lesbian or gay. One of those weddings—the highlight of my ministry—was for my own daughter and the woman who is now her wife. They are so happy!”
But these are BIG concerns. When I first started writing this, it was inspired by a much smaller issue in the grand scheme of things, an unreasonable, bullying landlord who [UPDATE – initially seemed to have relented, but the fight goes on.]
Whether the issue is international in scale or merely a neighborhood concern, this quote does seem appropriate: “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” – Robert Frost. Now that’s WAY easier said than done, but it is something to aim for.
LISTEN to Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley, as relevant now as it was 40 years ago.