New Year’s Eve puts some people in a rah-rah kind of mood, and others get pensive and reflective. Although I’ve done my share of partying in the past, this year I’m feeling pretty subdued.
The rainy weather outside doesn’t help matters. Yes, we’ve got a cold nasty rain going on this year in New England–not a snowflake in sight on December 31.
And it’s depressing to open my email inbox and find hordes of outstretched hands from excellent NGOs, begging for last-minute donations.
As someone who has often been in the position of asking for donations to fund various initiatives I’ve worked on, I know that these end-of-year gifts can literally make or break a small organization. They’re the lifeblood that keeps so many worthy causes alive.
Of course, we all know that if we give to these organizations we can write down our taxable income and give less to the federal government, and many people take satisfaction in being able to direct their giving, instead of sending it into the amorphous federal pool to be redistributed according to the whim of our so-called representatives in Congress.
So why am I resisting giving this year?
I am just irritated with the system that starves worthy social and environmental causes while lavishly feeding the maw of the military industrial complex.
I am irritated that the Democratic Party keeps asking me for small donations of $15 or $25, sums that actually matter to me, sad to say–while at the same time courting the big corporate interests whose millions of campaign spending will control the election.
I am irritated that no matter how much each of us gives, it’s never enough to solve the problems that face us.
And I’m beginning to think that money is not the answer.
It’s such a revolutionary thought, and yet once out of the box it seems so clear.
Just as giving a dollar to a beggar on the street may help that poor guy get through one more night, but does nothing to solve the bigger problems that landed him on the street in the first place, throwing money at the dozens of worthy charities that are hunting us all down today is simply not going to effect the kind of deep systemic change our society and our world needs.
It’s not about money.
Yes, it’s true that corporate money has corrupted our political system. But just as fighting violence with more violence only escalates the conflict, trying to fight big money with more money will accomplish nothing because we’re still allowing the guys with the deep pockets to set the agenda. We’re being reactionary, and our thinking, along with our dollars, stay inside the established sociopolitical framework.
In the coming year, we need to quiet down the ambient noise in our minds–the shouting, the screams, the piteous begging, the brash hawking of wares, the political sloganeering–and do some deep thinking about the ways in which we have been limited by the system we grew up in.
It’s time to re-establish our priorities, as individuals, as a nation, and as a global society. Throwing good money after bad accomplishes nothing when the values that drive the system are warped and destructive. We’ve got to go deeper in our approach to change.
Yes, I’m talking about revolution this New Year’s Eve. Not reform. I’m talking about going all the way, because we’re at an economic and ecological breaking point now.
We have little to lose, and so much to gain by decisive action. Think about it.