People Power

Hands Off Mother Earth

Democracy is a word that is so misused in today’s world. Often it refers to simply electing officials who then disappear into the waiting arms of corporate interests who willingly assuage their greed in return for carte blanche. Even a moderate President like Mr. Obama, has to contend with the avaricious schemes of global industry.

It’s time that we who claim to love democracy actually put it to the test and make it come alive for a world in which corporate interests war against human life in pursuit of the bottom line. (If this sounds radical check how banks are too big too fail yet people are allowed to fail daily, even when they have been proven to be victims of corporate predators.)

The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia is a grand experiment in DIRECT Democracy. Seventeen working groups composed of hundreds of participants from all over the world (5 continents), met via internet and then hammered out documents representing the various areas of concern over the last 3 days. These documents will be presented by President Evo Morales at December’s UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

The UN has created a structure where only the governments can be heard, yet it is clear that the governments are willing to compromise the lives of citizens in pursuit of economic, imperialist and other goals. What is war but the decision of nations to sacrifice human lives for an economic and/or idealogical end? Of course the justifications given for war and ignoring global needs in pursuit of national interests are pablum for the false patriot all too willing to accept any excuse to not dig deep, ask questions and think independently.

Lisette Parra, Bolivian Women’s Leader

Here in Bolivia there is much deep thought, conversation and organization happening. I participated in the group focused on “Harmony with Nature.” The group elected co-Presidents Michael Johnson, Board Member of South Bronx Board #1, and Lisette Parra, head of la Confederacion de Mujeres Indiginas Originarias de Bolivia “Bartolina Sisa”. These two highly capable folks steered the discussion. The document was being drafted and amended live. As people spoke on the mic their suggestions were placed into the document. The resulting statements were read several times until today’s 12 Point document was agreed upon by consensus.

Michael Johnson, Member South Bronx Borad #1

Of course everyone was not completely happy yet everyone felt as though they were heard. What if more of our national decisions were made by referendum? What if citizens were truly educated and engaged in the decisions being considered by the government? Such a direct approach is what democracy actually looks like and it would do wonders to revive our decaying system so prone to corruption, manipulation and systemic abuse.

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