A New Form of Independence

First page of Constitution of the United States

Thomas Jefferson swore “upon the altar of god eternal hostility against any form of tyranny over the mind of man.” The United States of America was formed against the tyranny of dictatorship, a dictatorship that ruled over life, thought, and the soul. We celebrate our Independence from that dictatorship today.

Two hundred and thirty-five years later, we face a new form of tyranny — one less obvious and far more dangerous than the kings of old. Those tyrants ruled with pain and fear. We knew who they were and hated them for it. Today’s tyrants rule with something far more deceptive, manipulative, and resourceful: money. We have all been sold on the value of profiteering by our teachers, parents, media, and leaders who define success by the dollar. We have been raised with the drive for wealth. Money clouds our minds. Greed, our sin; the masters of Greed, our tyrants. And we are only making it worse.

As organized now, few (if any) businesses are democratic. Corporate structure is not unlike an Empire of old: a company’s Founder and/or CEO, its king; the Board of Directors and Executive Officers, its appointed officials; the Shareholders, aristocratic citizens with stake but marginal influence; and employees, the ruled. In this model, citizens do not have the power. Individuals hired into a company have little say in its operation, for fear of being fired; they are predominantly slaves to the will of the Owners.

We are servants, and they are our kings. We buy their products. We work for them to put food on our table. We hustle soulless moderate-wage jobs to cover health, rent, insurance, college loans, and car payments. We are dependent on corporations, so much so that our government twists our tax revenue to bail them out in time of need. And we do nothing to organize against them. Unions barely scratch the surface and have lost traction. Businesses continue to accumulate wealth and are now more powerful than ever before. Profits are going up while jobs and salaries are going down. Large corporations, wealthy elite, and corporatist officials are stockpiling cash to muscle, bribe, and buy us into their profit margins. Money dictates our electoral process. Personal and public debt is higher than ever. Millions of Americans and their freedoms are trapped in a ruthless money game.

Capitalism itself cannot be condemned because it is a free person’s right. And it shall not be blamed. But like all rights, the freedom to economize can be abused. It has been abused. Some organizations, namely conglomerates and banks, have become more powerful than the governments they are legally filed under. In 1999, the United States empowered commercial banks by allowing them investment banking privileges and stake over corporations. Many governments, including our own, are now indebted to, and therefore leveraged by, financial institutions here and abroad. World power now lies in the hands of those with capital wealth and to whom others are indebted. And we gave them that power: corporations are recognized by our laws as living entities with individuality. Unlike real human beings, however, we recognize companies as immortal. Businesses have been granted deity status under our laws. We write about, study, subscribe to, and praise them like prophets. Conglomerates are now our Gods.

Money is not holy, nor is it human. We cannot revere it above the human spirit. Greed now rules over the mind of man, and it must be defeated. However, declaring independence from greed will not be as easy as sailing to a new continent and bleeding the enemy dry. It will take a revolution. It will take an aggressive and confident democratic mass movement against corporatism.

The battle should not be between left and right, for that is a political cage match staged by elitists looking to turn a profit on the cultural war effort. No, the battle should be between corporatists and anticorporatists. Between the greedy and the charitable. Between profiteers and humanitarians. We can experience radical human progress in our lifetimes if we look past regressive profitability cycles to make more human investments. Our civilization could “go green” if natural resource and vehicle companies stop holding back in an effort to perpetuate profits. Our civilization could visit other worlds if investors looked past whether interstellar travel was a “good investment.”  Our civilization could cure countless diseases and save millions of lives if pharmaceutical companies shake their unfounded fear of putting themselves out of the drug business. Our civilization could do so much more if greed wasn’t tugging the reins.

We must wake from denial and the status quo and stand up to established powers. We must respect ourselves and each other. We must not rely on elected officials, for legislative processes are too slow and cumbersome for meaningful change. We must protect and better-educate our impressionable youth. We must reorganize our economy to respect different kinds of intelligence and education. We must empower leaders and businesses organized for efficient democratic progress. We must not lecture our friends, but instead inspire them to stand up to their jobs and their bosses. We must see the dollar as the enemy and look past our own checkbooks. And we must support each other in brotherhood and community.

Let us band together and see to it that our freedom survives through the night.

We are America. We are free. Happy Independence Day.

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How America Can Reclaim First Place

American FlagsCan you imagine traveling six days by horse in a blizzard to hang out with peers and talk politics? Can you imagine waking up to a trumpet, grabbing your gun and running outside to join other armed neighbors to defend your cul-de-sac? Can you imagine hiding in your basement with friends for fear of your life and plotting a bloody revolution? These activities were commonplace 250 years ago at the birth of our nation. Early Americans went to great lengths to come together, stand as one, and protect our freedoms. The value of togetherness networked local communities, rallied the majority against common enemies, and united the colonies.

Somewhere between the Cold War and postdevelopment, Americans lost site of that camaraderie. We lost site of togetherness. Back then, the freedom to assemble was a huge deal – so important that it topped the list of our constitutional amendments. Today, I see a lot of ambition and very little group collaboration. Few people stand collectively behind anything except brands and religion (and even those groups are fading).

We need to come together again. We need to debate again. We need to start a cultural revolution again. And like all great movements in history, the era of neo-togetherness starts small: spend more time with friends. Spend time discussing how you think the world should look. Spend time making suggestions and outlining solutions. And if you are brave enough, spend time tackling those solutions together.

Our great country evolved through community. Only a strong community can keep it alive.

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After Hours

What do you do when you come home from work or school? Keep working? Relax? Watch television? Read a book? Write? Work out? Spend time with family? Go to bed?

It is important to keep your body healthy and mind sharp. Family is very important, not to be neglected. Balance is the key to successful living. But consider: your after hours are unencumbered by the expectations of a paycheck or supervisor. You have the freedom to live, the freedom to grow, and the freedom to innovate.

Many of today’s most impactful creations did not manifest at the hands of large corporate teams, wealthy R&D divisions, or policymakers – they were conceived by individuals as hobbies after hours. Henry Ford experimented with his first gasoline engine at home while working for the Edison Illuminating Company. John Pemberton, a late nineteenth century pharmacist, bottled Coca-Cola as a side project. The Wright Brothers assembled gliders in the back of their bicycle shop. Google and Facebook were both parented by active college students. The list goes on.

Live your life doing what you want to do. Embrace your hobbies. Embrace your time. What you do after hours can liberate you.