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Charleston, West Virginia Politics Writings

The Productive Citizen

Under stress, when the world is not the way we would like it to be, we tend to go down one of two mistaken paths. Either we attack the world and try to force it to change without offering anything worthwhile ourselves or we withdraw and only focus only on caring for ourselves and immediate family. Neither response is appropriate, because we rely on the social fabric for our survival. To cocreate our shared world is part of who we are as humans.

And Biden’s presidency- while not welcomed by me- could have the silver lining of forcing us to stop looking for a Big Daddy to save us and instead build up the collective strengths which are our only true protection against enslavement.

So here are some ideas for how we can truly make America great again. It comes down to having populations which are strong, productive, & free-thinking while still being woven into a tight fabric. It is not enough to connect to society in a passive way. We must take an active role in building our world.

  1. Become a connector. In a sense, this is the core thread running through all the ideas. As an adult, it does not suffice* to simply be responsible for yourself & your own. We all depend on the fabric of society & must all do our share of weaving to keep this fabric strong.

    Here are a few cutesy ideas for being more connective….

    a) Talk to strangers. Practice making random small talk with people you encounter in stores and on the street. When you do this, it will start to seem normal to others & they will begin doing it as well. Soon enough, we will be living in a much warmer & well connected world.

    b) Connect more deeply on social media. If you use social media, try to use it in a more proactive way. Reach out to those you like in a more meaningful way & become friends.

    c) Eat together. Cook for people or meet for dinner at restaurants. Invite random people on the off chance you might like them. Shyness is for children. Adults have a moral obligation to be brave & step beyond themselves.

    d) Why not use the mail service to add another dimension to your social life? Write letters or send out holiday cards to friends, family & even people you met online. If you’re rich, send gifts! This would have a huge impact on people & inspire them to impact others.

    e) Form clubs. Either online or in person, form groups based on any criteria whatsoever. Shared interests, shared gender… whatever appeals to you! We are the weavers of this world & should be creative in giving birth to it.

    The key is to be the active agent in making relationships happen. Don’t fear being rejected. Life has already accepted you or you wouldn’t be alive. And if another person rejects what life has accepted then they are a fool.

  2. Become a producer and sell your goods.

    If you are so inclined, consider producing something that is commonly used by humans and selling it at a reasonable price. Not necessarily to make a living, but just as a side source of cash combined with hobby.

    Possibilities include eggs, milk, honey, corn, fruits & vegetables, meat, dishwasher safe tableware, tables & chairs, clothes, table cloths, tea towels, quilts, soap & beauty supplies. Anything which humans need and use on a regular basis.

    It is easy to imagine how much more vital our communities would feel if more of us produced these basic items & we were able to buy them from each other rather than Walmart.

  3. Create Media. The problems of a centralized media have become obvious. One solution is to begin engaging more in the creation of media ourselves. Become an independent investigative journalist. A video journalist. Start a blog. A local news site. Or even go retro and make a zine or print newsletter covering any topic which interest you.

    Once again, remember you do not have to make a living at this. If humans only engaged in activities which paid the bills, we may never have discovered electricity. One way or another we must create a grassroots citizen media.

  4. Become a tech freedom fighter. If you are a tech person, build things which enable people to connect while being free from centralized control, such as social media platforms dedicated to free speech, cryptocurrencies, etc.

  5. Get a gun, learn to shoot. Personally I find this one scary. But should communities place their self defense solely in the hands of centrally controlled organizations? Perhaps being able to defend yourself and also band together with your neighbors in defense is part of what keeps communities strong.

  6. Get involved with government. Especially at the local or state level. Local & state governments really need more power relative to the national government in order for people to feel that their voices can be heard.

  7. Create a charity.** It doesn’t need to be official. But perhaps you have noticed a little problem in the world around you. Some squirrels that seem hungry, some elderly people that seem alone. Some houses that have fallen into disrepair. We can choose to donate a bit of our time and energy to making our world a better place, no official bureaucracy required.

    So if you do see a way to be helpful, or you have some skill or resource that could benefit others, why not make a little personal hobby of improving your corner of the world in a small but concerted way?

  8. Be a shrink. This is a simple way for citizens to reclaim power. We all need someone to talk to. No one has 200 dollars to pay someone to stare at them for an hour. And why should we have to? Humans love listening to other people’s problems as much as we love having sex- it makes us feel less alone. So offer up your services as an available shrink- a listening ear- to those around you and also let them listen to you.

  9. Create culture. Break the spell of Hollywood. Humans have been creating our own culture since time began. You don’t need to go to a Justin Bieber concert filled with laser beams. You could listen to your neighbor sing. Once you readjust your settings, you might find you like it better. A play written by your aunt, a picture painted by your friends. These are the real deal. Reject the idea that arts & culture must be a part of some giant centralized machine in order to have value.

  10. Goodbye groupthink. The more we connect, the more we tend to conform. If we are selling eggs, we might just go along with whatever ideas people throw out so they will buy our eggs. But reject this. Have the courage to connect with people while remaining true to your own mind. Speak the truth as you understand it even when socially inconvenient.

    Likewise, if you use social media do not cower in the shadows of the group mind. Be brave, freethinking, independent & bold. Stand up to bullies. A society made up of clones is not really a society anymore. It is simply the borg- a singular entity. It is our job to be brave enough to stop this from happening. Be an individual so the idea of a collective truly means something.




* Obviously I realize some people are barely supporting their own & might have little energy left for weaving social fabric! Perhaps most people are stretched to capacity and the only change they could make would be a teensy one. But that is the beauty of the collective. It is so vast and so interconnected that the tiniest change by a single person can ripple out forever.

Let’s say, for example, that you set aside one evening a month to reach out to someone in need and be a listening ear, a source of support. You might be the first person to ever extend yourself to him/her in this way. Doing so could subtly- or radically- transform their sense of life and what is possible.

Now their increased sense of hope changes the way they interact with everyone around them. Which then changes how these people interact. There is no of knowing how far the impact of one caring gesture can go. It could easily touch the whole world.





** I have wanted to do charitable acts myself, but you quickly run into the problem of mooches. There are people everywhere who position themselves to be as needy as possible just so others will reach out to help them. They are frequently predatory people who drag others down in all areas of life. So you don’t really want to feed the bears.

One possibility then, is to not just support those who are needy, but those who are valuable and doing good things. These people may need help & support as well, though they probably won’t ask for it. At the very least, if you give to a giver, any surplus they receive from you is likely to be recirculated back into the wider world in a positive way.

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