By David Swanson
courtesy of: David Swanson’s blog
In 2004 I began speaking at rallies and forums around the country on issues of peace and justice, something I’ve done off-and-on ever since. Up through 2008, it was extremely unusual for questions from the audience to consist of pure defeatism. In 2009, it was rare to get through a Q&A session without being asked what the point was of trying.
And the defeatism is so contagious that it will be hard for me to make it through 2010 if people don’t shut up about how doomed we are. If current trends continue, by 2011 the only people showing up at forums on peace and justice will all be old enough to tell my grandparents they’re too young to understand how pointless it is to try. And my grandparents are dead.
Most of the defeatist questions I get asked are more statements than questions, mostly informing those in the room of ways in which our nation is corrupted that we are all painfully aware of, but stated as much out of frustration and despair as out of any hope of hearing a miraculous solution articulated.
Aren’t politicians all bought and paid for? Haven’t we tried being activists for years with no success? Can’t the corporate media just destroy us if it wants to? Won’t the secret permanent bureaucracy just kill any politicians who stray from the plan? Isn’t anything good doomed to fail under our two-party system? Et cetera and so forth.
Some of these questions / statements / cries of anguish build into them an analysis of what’s wrong and, therefore, of what needs to be fixed, at least in the view of the questioner. And I tend to agree with much of the analysis I hear, and to want to add to it. (For example, I want to get people to see the danger of leaving all power in the hands of presidents, even though returning it to Congress wouldn’t do a bit of good until we fix Congress.) But I have no sympathy for what I consider the unintellectual and immoral offense of coughing discouragement on people.
So, I ask participants in events I’m speaking at not to do it.