I did a show awhile ago called, “You can’t guilt a fascist” and I don’t think this point can be made enough. Appeals to the powerful to amend their ways and show more grace to their serfs are structurally doomed, because there is no compassion there to appeal to – that’s actually why those people are where they are.
Perfect executive confidence, untroubled and not restrained by any hint of compassion whatsoever.
But there’s a second problem with that approach – we aren’t serfs. Seriously, there are no people with more resources to throw around than us (and I’m speaking from near the bottom of us, not a comfy spot – and still). Every time we insist we are powerless serfs, part of what we’re really saying is democracy won’t work, give up.
If we who have been uniquely rewarded by these structures cannot figure out how to blend reason, duty and compassion, and do the individual work of winning people around to our cause, then democracy may indeed be doomed – but I’m not ready to write it off yet, and I don’t think anyone should ever do that unthinkingly.
There are alternatives in many other places in the world, they are not producing results we envy. Ask a friend who grew up in Somalia if government is the worst thing in the world. You may learn a lot, really fast.
When we remember we are citizens, we remember that the most basic tools we have are through democracy and small scale economics – thinking about where and how we spend whatever resources we have, and consciously choosing to actively nurture things we treasure. Evil people will continue to be evil, there is no amount of public pressure which can alter that – what we want is for them to no longer be powerful, or immune to consequences.
This means organizing to change the systemic corruption of government, punishing bad corporate actors, and the creation of institutions that prove new social benefits, and can radiate best practise examples elsewhere.
In other words, tons of hard work and sacrifice for no certain reward – and no one but us to do it.
Sorry if that sounds like a raw deal – but lets face it, it still beats the hell out of feeling helpless and useless, no?
We aren’t, not yet anyhow – I swear – not unless we actually choose that comfortable and heroic pain over duty.