We’ve reached a surreal mile marker on the road to Orwell Land. When a federal judge sentences an 84-year-old nun to prison, on behalf of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” and then advises us to have more faith in the system, it’s time to get off that damn road.
Ralph Hutchison . . .
We’ve heard it from the bench in Oak Ridge city courtrooms and from state judges in Clinton, Tennessee. And on February 18 we heard it from a federal judge—there are two variations. The first: There are plenty of ways for you to protest and deliver your message without breaking the law. The second: If you people would just put this time and energy into working for the change you want in the political system, you might get the change you seek.
Both sentiments are either disingenuous or naïve.
But we’re expected to heed the advice of those judges and be grateful that they’ve shared their wisdom with us.
We should have more faith in the system, Judge Thapar?
Elizabeth Warren . . .
People feel like the system is rigged against them, and here is the painful part, they’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down the billions in profits. Billionaires pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries, and Wall Street CEOs, the same ones the direct our economy and destroyed millions of jobs still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them. Does anyone here have a problem with that?
I have a problem with that. You have a problem with that. The earth itself has a problem with that. Everyone has a problem with that except the One-Percent and the two-party-system politicians who guard their bank vaults for them and call it democracy.
That government those judges are so proud of, that government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has authorized the targeted persecution of political activists and protesters and whistleblowers, it has engaged in systemic abuses of power and obstructions of justice, in violation of our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; those “public servants” have actively given their assent to the establishment of a top-secret shadow government infrastructure that has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, no one knows how many people it employs, no one knows how many programs exist within it or who controls them.
Ralph Hutchison . . .
Nonviolent direct action is required of us because the government responds to nothing less. It is required of us because our consciences and our unborn grandchildren—and yours—insist we do all we can on behalf of the planet and the future. It is required of some because they feel a divine imperative; the God they follow requires them to beat swords to plowshares and blesses peacemakers. It doesn’t seek an end in itself—it seeks to open a conversation, to encourage jurists, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the public, to search themselves to see what they can do and what they should do.
That government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” has authorized or condoned the infestation of communications networks worldwide with NSA surveillance technology, every phone call, every email, every form of electronic communication is being monitored, recorded, and stored in massive databases by National Security State operatives accountable to no one.
But let’s all sing along with the choir director, Judge Thapar . . . oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain . . . etc, etc, etc . . .
The system is BROKEN, judge.
Bobby Kennedy . . .
We dissent from the sight of most of mankind living in poverty, stricken by disease, threatened by hunger and doomed to an early death after a life of unremitting labor. We dissent from cities which blunt our senses and turn the ordinary acts of daily life into a painful struggle. We dissent from the willful, heedless destruction of natural pleasure and beauty. We dissent from all those structures-of technology and of society itself-which strip from the individual the dignity and warmth of sharing in the common tasks of his community and his country.
Enough is enough.
William Faulkner . . .
Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have become, refuse to bear them.
We’ve reached the point where civil disobedience is a moral imperative, a sacred obligation. It’s the only way out of this.
Mario Savio . . .
There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheel . . . upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.
That time has come.
Don’t accept that what’s happening,
Is just a case of others’ suffering,
Or you’ll find that you’re joining in,
The turning away.
No more turning away,
From the weak and the weary,
No more turning away,
From the coldness inside,
Just a world that we all must share,
It’s not enough just to stand and stare,
Is it only a dream that there’ll be
no more turning away?
Photo by Tarsandsaction released under a Creative Commons license.