Several weeks ago, we looked back at the historic march that began in Selma, Ala., in March 1965. This event was a painful time in our nation’s history, but a time that we can all gather great strength from.
Was it a victory for African-Americans? Was it a victory for the population of Alabama? Was it a victory for our republic? Yes, but what is most important is that this was not just a victory for certain groups. This was a victory for everyone.
Anyone who has ever felt oppressed, anyone who has ever felt that their voice does not matter, can be empowered by the events of Bloody Sunday, that we, the people, are more powerful than any governmental force that would hold us down.
Too many times, while discussing politics, people will voice a sense of hopelessness. That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it are heard too often. We have the power to change our country, to change the world.
President Barack Obama, during a powerful speech in Selma, reflected on this when he asked, how do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America’s future. All we have to do is come together to make our power felt.
I recently came across an Internet video advertising digitdemos.com, a Colorado company that uses technology to keep track and make voters aware of the votes of their representatives. I was impressed, but I could not help thinking: If participatory democracy can be used to keep tabs on the republic, is the republic still necessary? If we have the technology to make our voices heard on the issues, and the information available to make our voices worthwhile, why not just have participatory democracy?
Have we come so far from our founding that the idea of we, the people governing ourselves and deciding for ourselves what kind of communities we desire is unthinkable? Have we become convinced that being social means socialism? Are we so afraid of communism that we no longer desire to be a part of a community? Have we been sold the idea of individualism so much that we refuse to use our collective strength?
I cannot believe that we have learned nothing from Selma, and our government does not believe it, either. Our government knows that we hold the power, even if we are not convinced. They are afraid. That is why, just in the last 15 years, we have lost freedoms uncounted through the Patriot Act and the spying of the NSA. That is why our police forces are becoming more and more militarized; looking like Navy Seals more than they resemble Andy Griffith.
The president was right. We do give away our power, but it is not too late to take it back. It is not too late to stop playing the us and them game that we have been convinced is reality and become the we that can accomplish anything.