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Mic Check

October 25, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Family, Politics, Randall Amster

Can You Hear Us, America?

by Randall Amster

We find these views to be mutually relevant…

that all people, by virtue of their basic humanity, deserve the opportunity to live, work, and associate according to the dictates of their own consciences and capacities;

that the exercise of such freedoms is only tenable in conjunction with the ability of all people to do so, in the recognition that no one is free unless everyone is free;

that people situated in place know best how to manage the conditions of their lives, and that the political autonomy and economic self-sufficiency of local communities are the primary means of ensuring the freedom of the individuals in their midst;

that individuals and communities do not exist in isolation, but are interlinked through a global network of communications and cultural exchange that enables the realization of a shared future and a common interest in effectively preserving the continued existence of humankind;

that the integrity of the whole is based on the vitality of its parts, and that the stability and productivity of social relationships is contingent upon and reflective of our collective human interactions with the balance of life around us, upon which we depend for survival;

that the fruits of the earth belong to humankind collectively, and especially to the future generations from whom we merely borrow their blessings;

that no one ought to be bound into the indentured servitude of indebtedness, which coerces people to become complicit with an alienating economy and structures of their own oppression;

that education must be free, open to all, and not merely confined to classrooms and institutions;

that intergenerational justice works in both directions, with young and old alike being equivalent teachers and learners, bringing together the lessons of the past, the challenges of the present, and opportunities for the future into an evolving tapestry of mutual engagement;

that none should be compelled to labor for another except by the inherent desires of conscience and the reciprocal benefits of being served by others through the experience of community;

that collective decisions shall only be taken with the direct participation and informed consent of all those potentially affected by them;

that people, left to their own devices, are capable of self-organizing, self-regulating, and developing mutually beneficial structures of governance and the distribution of resources;

that we live in a world of abundance rather than scarcity, with the problems of inequality being ones of maldistribution and disenfranchisement rather than of quantitative lack;

that the shared spaces of society, including the material bases of existence, cannot be owned or controlled by private interests but must remain the collective responsibility of humankind entire;

that we already possess all of the tools and technologies necessary to create a just world, and that we require only the will to reorient the purposes to which we deploy them in order to realize it;

that what we do matters, that there is meaning to our existence, that we honor ourselves and each other through service and compassion, and that our lives are bound together in a seamless web of destiny;

that our rights and freedoms are equally balanced by our responsibilities and mutual obligations;

that we seek both independence and interdependence as the necessary conditions of social existence;

that there can be no peace without justice, no future without the past, no individuality without community, no opportunity without education, no liberty without equality, and no politics without participation;

that we strive to always create more than we destroy, to produce more than we consume, to give more than we take, to laugh more than we cry, to uplift more than we denigrate, to construct more than we critique, to share more than we acquire, and to love more than we hate;

that we seek a better world not merely for ourselves, our communities, and our allies, but for all of humankind, including those who have exercised their power unjustly and unwisely;

that we acknowledge the urgency of the moment while affirming our willingness and desire to remain engaged in long-term, perhaps even unending, struggles for human dignity and environmental sustainability;

that this task cannot be passed on to others, that we are the ones it has fallen upon, that it is our generational calling, that we have the power to alter the arc of society, and that we are the ones we have been waiting for to bring peace and prosperity to the world;

that the pursuit of material wealth represents a moral and spiritual void, and that the use of manipulation and force to maintain wealth disparity is a self-defeating enterprise based on the failure to recognize the binding principle of interconnectedness in every aspect of existence;

that we can, must, and will succeed in working collaboratively to turn crises into opportunities and to move from the brink of annihilation toward a world of appreciation;

that life is meant to be lived, that we are the creators of culture and not merely its consumers, that our actions and processes are ends in themselves, and that what we do at every moment is the revolution;

that the future depends upon us to occupy place and liberate space on its behalf, and our own;

that we have nothing to lose but our chains, and literally everything to gain;

that the person standing next to you is part of you, an extension of you, a reflection of you, an ally, a colleague, a relative, and a friend;

that the earth beneath our feet creates and sustains us, and that we must do the same for it in return;

that there is one unified race, the human race, and that our inherent diversity provides the strength that will see us through the changes and challenges at hand;

that there are no nations or borders, only peoples and places;

that we need everyone’s open hearts, willing hands, strong backs, and keen minds to avert calamity and ensure posterity;

that the sound of a child’s laugh casts out the monotonous drone of commercialism, that the wonder in a child’s eyes invokes beauty against blight, and that the hope in a child’s heart is more powerful than the downward spiral of despair;

that you are important, that your dreams are real, that your needs will be met, that your burdens are shared, that your wellbeing is paramount, and that you are loved.

Affirmed by deeds, to be enacted voluntarily by the people individually and in concert as a living declaration.

Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., is the Graduate Chair of Humanities at Prescott College. He serves as Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association and as Contributing Editor for New Clear Vision. Among his recent books are Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008), and the co-edited volume Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

9 Comments to “Mic Check”


  1. Available on Common Dreams today: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/10/25-6

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  2. Kent Shifferd says:

    A great manifesto, Randall!
    Kent Shifferd

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  3. dennis lum says:

    An incredible preamble for the 21st century. Thanks, Randall.

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  4. Daniel Ray Stockdell says:

    Randall,

    I am profoundly moved by what you have written. I have thought in recent times that Chris Hedges has spoken like the Thomas Paine of the new American Revoulution. If that can be said, then you have written like the modern version of Thomas Jefferson. I would rename this piece “The Declaration of Interdependence”.

    I am living in Brazil, and would like your permission to translate this into Portuguese to share with my friends here, as I believe should be done around the planet.

    Thank you so much!

    Daniel Ray Stockdell
    Ibitipoca, Brazil

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  5. What a badass you are Randall…so honored to have you as my prof.!
    Where there is fire on the mountains let them proclaim this everywhere…

    I second Kent and Dennis…

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  6. Randall Amster says:

    Thank you all for the kind remarks and support — now let’s keep the dialogue moving forward out there in the streets, parks, schools, offices, everywhere!

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  7. My vision: this document gets edited, revised and tweaked by a committee of people who love life and the earth. then it is disseminated far and wide. People could add their signature to this “declaration of interdependence”. My vision is that we withdraw our consent to be governed by those who do not revere life and start a new self-governing paradigm for the earth.

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  8. Tina Evans says:

    Really great, eloquent piece, Randall. Thank you! I agree that it has great potential as a rallying cry. I hope to see it circulated far and wide.

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