SPOTLIGHT ON SOLUTIONS
FOCUS ON AMERICA
We are the Justice League: Our People Are Calling
by E.S. Gray
Whether or not we call our governing system a true democracy, the heart of any nation lies in the interactions among its peoples. Laws, customs, and policies shape the channels within which these interactions occur, but they are constantly re-shaped by the changing usage and interpretation of each generation.
In laymen’s terms—our government and economy rely entirely on the ways we relate to one another. Now more than ever, the people of the United States are realizing that the true checks and balances of power lie in the hands of its diverse constituents; of us.
Some of us are veterans of community involvement. We have attended meetings, organized rallies or registered neighbors to vote. We have met a grassroots leader or an elected official, sat in a City Council meeting, marched in a protest, or advocated for a disadvantaged demographic.
Perhaps we did this in the 1960s, or perhaps in the last five years.
There are also those of us who have remained on the fringe of involvement, either by choice or by circumstance. We studied, worked, or rested, unaware of the concerns of the “other.” We paid little heed to most media, failed to relate with any emerging movement or political party, or barely knew the face of our neighbor two-doors down.
No matter what we have or have not done, or what has or has not been done to us, we all are facing a collective loss – to our rights, our security, our benefits, and our dignity.
How long have things been like this?
Whether it happened when our eyes were closed, stretching back to the days of the Patriot Act and then beyond, or it happened with our eyes wide open, watching the country elect a self-proclaimed bigot, we are now facing a massive swing into far-right governance,
with unjust policies being reinforced, reintroduced, and resurrected.
If the people and their interactions are at the heart of the nation, then it is us, not the “system,” not the “others,” not the Russians. We created this. Or, we recreated this. And if we don’t like where we are, we must fundamentally change the way we relate to one another.
Remarkably, where there is a need, nature provides a solution. Whether motivated by love, worry, or frustration, we as a nation are engaging with each other on a level more frank than anything I have ever felt in my meager 27 years of living. In exponentially increasing likelihood, the people of this country are liable to have a conversation with anyone about (1) the future of the country, (2) the well-being of others, or (3) the peace of the world, on any given day of the week.
Whether we are calling a Senator, attending a rally, putting signs in our yard, or chatting within our circles about facts and feelings, we are shifting the channels of our interaction to be more grassroots, diverse, and bold.
All these things are setting a precedent for our interactions in the future, and thus affecting the motions of government, economy, and culture. We are collectively looking at each other more closely, are more ready to stand in alliance with a stranger, and are more aware of our leadership abilities. If we continue along this path, it can only bode well for the future.
Manuel Gray (E.S. Gray) was born and raised in Cincinnati, experiencing in his formative years the nightly curfews following the 2001 Cincinnati riots over the police killing of black teenager Timothy Thomas. Growing up he has been very mindful of the racial tension that exists in his city and cities around the country. Coming from a mixed family with members of varying understandings of race in development, policy, and enforcement, he remains motivated to find innovative ways of promoting communication and empowerment among diverse folks.
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