drawing, Printmaking, Writing

How I’d Change the World

You may have heard about the far right-wing convoy of trucks that has occupied our capital in Canada for nearly two weeks. The organizers are opposed to all covid mandates and to the federal government. Their message has spread to demonstrations in other cities, to the border with the U.S. and around the world.

After a night of little sleep, Self-Portrait, Lily S. May, 2022

I have been very disturbed by this turn of events.  During a recent night of little sleep I began compiling my own list of country-wide demonstrations I’d like to see. Once I got started, the list became very long with the issues relating to and intertwining with each other as they do.  As I look at all the things I’d love to change in our world, I keep coming back to the problem of the enormous difference in wealth between a very few people and companies and the rest of the world.  So the issue of needing a tax on wealth, say on anything over 10 million dollars, is high on my list of demonstrations I’d like to see.  This money could be used to restore funding to public services or to build new services where none exist now.  

Looking at healthcare, the extreme importance of a well funded public healthcare system that hasn’t seen cut after cut has been made obvious during the pandemic. As has the need to decriminalize drug use and provide safe injection sites in the present. So many issues, from the crucial need for patent-free vaccines and medicines for the people of the world to halt the pandemic, to the need for paid sick days for workers have been shown as necessary for humane societies. To name only a few social determinants of health—there’s increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, forgiving student debt and making post secondary education free, ending homelessness, bringing in local manufacturing, and so much more. These would make great issues for demonstrations and protests.

The other absolutely fundamental issue is that of climate change. As the earth continues to warm because of our use of fossil fuels, we will see more suffering and could be among the life forms to go extinct. So, climate change action and restoration of nature is an existential priority and would make for crucial cross country actions and protests on foot or by bike or bus or train.

Smarten Up, Relief Print by Lily S. May

Along with this, I’m very concerned about the growth in hatred. Our species definitely has a problem with hatred and we see its rise around the world. So, I’d like to see anti-hate protests for black lives matter, for truth and reconciliation for indigenous people, convoys opposing: all forms of racism, opposing islamophobia and antisemitism and hatred of immigrants and refugees and homophobia and violence inflicted on girls and women and child abuse, etc.

These changes are vast and may often seem impossible. And they are not the only ones. As I write, I think how could I not have included the need for proportional representation, the need for accessible space for disabled people, the need for not-for-profit long term care, the need for more funding for public schools and daycare, the need for nuclear disarmament. All are interrelated pieces of our fractured society with surely other pieces I’ve overlooked.

We can all pick an issue dear to us and if we look closely see how it relates to everything else.  What I want to learn is to not throw up my hands in despair, but to pick any of the issues that most resonate with me at any time and begin some steps to opposing the hatred and injustice in our also beautiful and only world. So this is my small step at not being silent. I don’t normally think of John Lennon’s songs, but in the night when I started my alternative list of convoys, I found myself singing the line from Imagine, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one..”

Mercy for the Children, Relief Print, Lily S. May


7 thoughts on “How I’d Change the World”

  1. A few successful social/labour uprisings notwithstanding, notably the Bolshevik and French revolutions, it seems to me that big business and the superfluously wealthy essentially have the police and military ready to foremost protect mega power and money interests, even over the environmental-stability needs of the protesting masses.

    I can imagine that there are/were lessons learned from them — a figurative How to Hinder Progressive Revolutions 101, perhaps? — with the clarity of hindsight by big power and money interests. The police and military can claim they must bust heads to maintain law and order as a priority; thus the absurdly unjust inequities and inequalities can persist.

    Even before the November 2020 election, I seriously doubted that a Joe Biden presidency would be permitted to, assuming he genuinely wanted to, make a notably practical improvement in poor and low-income Americans’ quality of life. Indeed, I strongly suspect that any American president who would seriously try implementing truly humane, progressive policies — notably, a significant reduction in military spending, a genuine anti-war effort, universal single-payer healthcare, writing-off student deb, increasing the minimum wage while reigning in Wall Street — would likely be assassinated, sooner rather than later.

    No wonder the DNC refuses to allow a Bernie Sanders presidential candidacy, regardless of what Democratic Party members/voters want. For example, every county in West Virginia voted for the truly progressive Bernie Sanders in 2016, yet the Democratic National Committee declared them as wins for Hillary Clinton; Clinton’s neo-liberalism, unlike Sanders’ fiscal progressiveness, was already known for not rubbing against big money, business and power grains.

    Fiscal conservative ideology/politics, big business interests and most of the corporate mainstream news-media resist sufficiently progressive ideas from actually being implemented. Also, Republican representatives are likely manipulating the Democratic Party hierarchy into making the latter’s fiscal politics/policies even more conservative. They all seem to favor big money interests over people.

    Meanwhile, powerful business interests can debilitate high-level elected officials through implicit or explicit threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability, if corporate ‘requests’ are not accommodated. It’s a political crippling that’s worsened by a blaring news-media that’s permitted to be naturally critical of incumbent governments, especially in regards to job and capital transfers and economic weakening.

    Thus, I believe that Canadian prime ministers, and American presidents, are mostly symbolically ‘in charge’, beneath the most power-entrenched and saturated national/corporate interests and institutions. Those elected heads ‘lead’ a virtual corpocracy, i.e. “a society dominated by politically and economically large corporations”.

    “Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It’s the free market, and you’re part of it.”
    —morbidly greedy and corrupt bank-financier Gordon Gekko, to his young stockbroker protégé Bud Fox (Wall Street, 1987)

      1. My pleasure. Thanx for your thoughtful essay. In a much more just world, so much of what you/I write about would already long-ago have been implemented. … Meantime, a common yet questionable refrain STILL prevails among ‘free-market’ capitalist nation governments and corporate circles: Best business practices, including what’s best for consumers, are best decided by business decision-makers.

        This was proven false when long-term care-homes put profit maximisation before their residents’ well-being, neglect that resulted in needlessly numerous COVID-19 senior-citizen deaths. … It was proven false with Facebook prioritising the expansion of its already huge profit margin over the health of its younger users. … Proven most false when the pharmaceutical industry knowingly pushed its new, very addictive opiate painkiller. And of course there is Big Fossil Fuel’s global warming.

        It’s the immoral nature of the Big Business beast. Western business mentality and, by extension, collective society allow the well-being of human beings to be decided by corporate profit-margin measures. And our governments mostly dare not intervene, perhaps because they fear being labelled anti-business by our avidly capitalist culture.

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