July 4th, 2012
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that we are all dependent upon each other, not only to survive, but to thrive. That every woman, man and child is dependent upon the whole in order to reach their full potential, and the whole of society is dependent upon all its members in order to move in the direction of providing an atmosphere of justice, mutuality and respect for all. Whatever happens to the least among us, happens to society as a whole. That all of us are connected to, and dependent upon, the earth on which we live. Whatever happens to the earth, happens to all of us.
We hold that the rapacious individualism of capitalism, based on the quest for power and accumulation of wealth at any cost, is destructive to individuals, the earth, and to society at large. It shall not stand. A society based on the profit-motive above all else is doomed to fail. We reject the belief that individuals created this society, they did not. People working together did. No bridge, highway, building or dam was ever built by one person. The very democracy that we celebrate today was created by the sweat, sacrifice, and bold actions of groups of people, standing together, working together, against tyranny. Collectively, we built an interstate highway system. Collectively, we created the internet. Collectively we have sent human beings into space. When Neil Armstrong was about to walk on the moon, his very words echoed this sentiment : “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”- these words recognize that without the collective work of so many people, that achievement would not have been possible. It also recognizes that great achievements are not done for the glorification of one person only, but for the good of all. It is only then that they have worth. It is only then that they will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all who come after.
When Jonas Salk created the polio vaccine, he was asked who held the patent. He replied “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” He realized that he could not have achieved that without a team of people working with him. He realized that he could not have achieved it without being raised in a family and a community that supported his desire to be a scientist, without schools that taught him the math and science he needed to know to become one. And he realized something even more important: that something as essential as the polio vaccine, which could help eradicate so much pain and misery in the world, belonged to the world itself. It could not be sold, commodified, or controlled for the profit of the few. It was for everyone to benefit from. It belonged to all of us.
We are, and always have been, a collectivist species. Like all animals, we huddle together for warmth when it is cold. We provide food for each other when we are hungry. It is our purpose, our mandate, it is in our genes. We need each other- psychologically, spiritually, biologically and emotionally. Men need women, children need their parents, neighbors need neighbors. We are not meant to live alone. A society cannot be run by only one gender. Or only one race. Or only one age. We need each other to do great things. We need our young, as well as our elders. We need our strong of body, as well as our strong of mind. Our history as the human race reflects it. From the time we were hunters and gatherers, to the time when we were agrarian. Everyone had their role, each contributed to the whole, and all benefited. Beliefs which separate us- sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia- make us weaker, not stronger. Seeing some among us as lesser, makes us all less.
We recognize that the health of each of us reflects on the health of society as a whole, and vice versa. When some among us are sick, we are all sick. Each of us deserves access to health care. When one of our houses or apartments catches fire, the fire department responds. They put out the fire. They do not send a bill. When we are robbed, we call the police. If someone steals our purse, our car, they respond. They do not charge us. They do not deny us if we are poor. Are then our bodies not worth as much as our homes, our purses, our cars? Just as the beaches, the mountains, the marshes and the plains belong to all of us, so do the achievements of medical science. We are only strong as a society if all are strong. We are only deserving as a people if all are deserving.
Each of us deserves access to share in the fruits of what this great land has provided for us- healthy food, clean water, breathable air. Food is not a commodity. It is a precious resource that has been available for all of us since the dawn of time. To allow the few to control the resources that are necessary for the many is folly. To allow corporations to control, modify, and distribute these resources is antithetical to what is necessary for society to thrive. It cannot stand. It is not sustainable. Clean food and water must be available to all, at all times.
We are interdependent not only among each other, but with the earth which gives us life. It is our duty to ensure the earth’s integrity. What has been here for millenia before any human walked this planet, shall be here for millenia after the last human has taken their final steps. We are but passengers on this ship, but we must now be its stewards. We must leave it better than we found it. We must not poison our air, our food supply, our water, our climate. We must live prudently, and in harmony, with the earth and with all her plants and animals which spring forth. We must, as Jonas Salk said, be good ancestors.
Currently, there is an imbalance in our society. An imbalance of resources, an imbalance of wealth, an imbalance of power. This imbalance continues to move us farther and farther away from a free and participatory democracy. The few control access to capital, they have purchased representatives at all levels of government, they control the means of production, the distribution of goods, the salaries and wages that we earn, and much of the media outlets. Most of those that are in this top 1% of power and wealth have a mistaken belief in the power of the individual over that of society. They put their trust only in themselves, yet depend upon us for so much. They see people as resources; food , water and fuel as commodities; and government only as a means to consolidate their wealth and power. Through their control of major media outlets, they have perpetuated these beliefs and propelled them onto the masses of society- convincing many of the lie that we do not need each other, that we only need ourselves.
We must reject this lie, if we are to survive. We must stand up for our interdependence. We must ring forth the song that each of us benefits from being part of the whole, and the whole itself cannot exist without the multitude of individuals who make up our world. We must reclaim our public space, our resources, the means of production, the means of distribution, and all levels of government- in the name of our collective good. We must say with resounding confidence that it is this world in which we want to live- a world where people help each other, share with each other, work with each other, and support each other. A world based on mutuality and respect. A world that celebrates our differences, yet compels us to pull together in the web of interconnectedness and communion for the common good. For our generations, and for all generations to come.
When the representatives of 13 colonies got together to create the Declaration of Independence, it was a collective effort. Although those who forged this democracy were narrow in their thinking and actions when it came to allowing liberty to extend to all members of our society, they did understand the one fundamental truth: that together we can accomplish great things, and alone we will fall. They enshrined this sentiment in our halls of government, and on our currency. “E.Pluribus Unum”- out of many, one. They provided for the common welfare. They understood that divided we were weak and fractured, but together we were strong, and capable of amazing things. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. said almost 200 years later- “We go farther, faster, when we go together”.
We are now engaged in a struggle for the heart of our nation, and ultimately our world. A struggle between those whose humanity never pushes beyond their own experience, and those of us who are motivated by empathy, love, and a sense of interconnectedness and interdependence with the earth and all her inhabitants . Let us go farther, let us go faster, let us go together, and let us declare our intention to live in a world where we all recognize our connection to each other, where liberty is not the freedom to shut another out, and where we are not simply a union of states or of governments, but of lives, connected inseparably to each other, for the good of all the people on this earth.