6 Ways to Seed a People’s Democracy

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Lynn writes about her adventures in sustainable living, social transformation, and personal growth at Upcycled Love. Follow her on Twitter

Unemployment. Cancer. Fracking. GMO’s. Anxiety. Depression. Climate Change. Do these seem unrelated to you? That is the illusion we are presented everyday – there are myriad problems all seemingly caused by different things. The truth is, each of these is caused by one root cultural problem: love of money over love of life.

Companies are so bent on making profit, they’ve structured law and politics to facilitate their ruthless pursuit of more money, even at the cost of innumerable human lives and ecosystems. I’m not attacking any one company, or any one person, but rather commenting on the culture we’ve created.

In a grassroots democracy, the people’s voice is heard. Unfortunately our system is a republic, represented by the interests of a small minority. There’s a glaring gap in what our government promises and what it’s able to fulfill. One part of the problem is that the public isn’t educated about the process of democracy itself. We can’t participate if we don’t know how it works. The recent uprisings abroad and at home have lifted our collective spirit to believe that democratic change is possible. OccupyAmerica is a demonstration to what power we have if we get together and organize. But what if this energy was funneled to a very specific purpose? Something that really gets to the heart of the problem? A grassroots civil rights movement?

Most people want a comfortable life, where they don’t have to worry about not having food, a home, or access to healthcare. Can we agree that all people want such a life? What if it was our inalienable right to have a comfortable and healthy life, stipulated by secure access to:

  • clean food
  • humane working conditions
  • physical health + medical care
  • emotional + spiritual well-being
  • homes + shelters
  • clean water
  • clean air
  • healthy, sustainable environment

The right to a secure and healthy life is eroded by lack of access to many and all of these things. Restricting access to a basic need is a very good way to make a lot of money.

What if the Earth had rights?

It wouldn’t be legal to pollute or act unsustainably anymore. If you want to maintain clean food, air, and water, the community and environment needs rights too:

  • Right to natural communities such as streams, freshwater ecosystems, mountains, lakes, etc.
  • Right to clean air, free of toxic compounds
  • Right to clean water, free of toxic compounds
  • Right to sustainably produced food
  • Right to GMO-free food
  • Right to community self-government
  • People as sovereign

Every social movement in history was catalyzed by a small group of activists working underground. They were able to change history ultimately by rewriting law, via constitutional amendments. Frequently widespread change started with small changes in city by city, state by state. Demanding for more rights seems revolutionary, didn’t we already seal the deal in the American Revolution? Unfortunately, the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement were needed to grant freedom and full citizenship to African Americans. The Women’s Suffrage movement was needed to liberate women. We are still fighting the battle for equal rights with these issues, not to mention the new frontiers of gay/transgender rights and environmental rights.

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