Warning- this is a bit of a ramble…
Yesterday I got a call from our local Democratic Party’s office asking me to vote for a couple of guys to become supreme court justices. This is basically how it went down:
Her: I urge you to vote for ___ and ___ for Supreme Court Justice.
Me: Okay, why?
Her: Um. Well, because they support our positions on things. (note- I’m not a registered Democrat, but I generally vote that way)
Me: Okay, but what specifically?
Her: … Okay, thank you!
Me: Wait, seriously?
And that, my friends, is a big reason why I have trouble giving a shit lately. I mean, I know that she was likely just a volunteer, but if these people are going to call people at home to urge them to vote for someone, for this actual JOB that is supposed to improve/affect our lives, shouldn’t they be able to tell me why? Okay, so I’ll go do the research, but I’ll likely have to sift through a ton of propaganda… Plus, this is a totally broken system. I think this is a system that feeds corporate interests, and it even trickles down to the local level. I think that the few issues that are for public health/interest are so few and far between in light of the massive destruction that is taking over the planet… well it just makes it all look a bit silly in that light. So yes, I want to legalize gay marriage and have backyard chickens and have a better public transportation system… but I’d also like them to stop killing the planet. Maybe they can do that? No? Okay, I guess I’ll choose backyard chickens. But wait? You really won’t stop killing the planet? Well… but my backyard chickens won’t have a backyard if you do that. Oh, those are my choices? "Backyard chickens + dead planet" or "just dead planet"? Hmmm. Now that I see it, I can’t go back. False choices, all the time.
So here’s my analogy, I guess, and feel free to weigh in and tell me what you think. Voting is like recycling. By all means, recycling is important. All that crap that could end up in the landfill? Let’s save some of it and turn it into useful goods. Recycle. BUT, I worry about recycling. I worry that recycling, while a better option than locking all that stuff up in a plastic bag to help build yet another rotting methane breathing trash mountain, is presenting us with yet another false choice. Let’s take, for example, toilet paper, paper towels, tissue, etc. Paper is definitely recyclable, and buying recycled toilet paper will reduce the number of trees that are cut down. It’s pretty amazing actually, like half a million trees could be saved per year if every US household just replaced one roll of TP with a recycled brand. Nice, right? Think of how many trees we could save if we all switched exclusively to recycled paper products? We’re saving the planet! But it’s not that simple. In order to recycle paper we often have to process it with chlorine (and likely other chemical products, and if it is chlorine-free I can bet you that it’s been met with chemicals in the past), and we end up with dioxin as a result. Dioxin- one of the most toxic chemicals known to man, is a byproduct of this process (and so many others). What’s the problem with a little dioxin? To name one, it lodges itself in women’s breastmilk, affecting our babies, all of us, for life. So okay, my choices are- "new toilet paper + cancer" or "saved trees and recycled toilet paper + cancer". Okay, OR, we could stop using toilet paper, and all switch to cloth. That’s gross? So is cancer. I’m pretty sure cancer is way grosser. There are all these choices, and yet, we are only shown a couple, and then we are pacified into doing just what is presented, rather than what will really make the difference. And when you make that choice, you start to realize how ridiculous the other ones were, and how many false premises we’ve accepted. Like, the saved trees. They weren’t saved. They were just not decimated yet. How silly that we pretend that we’re doing the environment a service when we choose merely to abstain from murdering it. No, if we were going to save some trees, then we’d stop them from being cut in the first place. And so this is just one of the examples knocking around in this head of mine about all the false choices we’re presented with each day.
So again, year after year I’m told to vote for this person or that person, and lately it’s felt like a lot of false choices upholding a way of life that routinely wars, enslaves, exploits, and corrupts. If you really think this system is working, then yes, let’s vote and mold it into what we want. But let’s think about this critically. Is this a system that is giving us all the choices we deserve? I’m voting today, but it’s only because I haven’t figured out what the other choice is yet.
I liked something I heard recently about making every dollar you spend a vote. I’m going to expand on that notion and say that we need to make every day a vote- every dollar, every action. Everything we do, how we relate to each other, how we eat, how we live- THAT is what is making the world we live in. And then there are some dudes out there that we have to keep from destroying everything… but I guess largely I think our every day counts so much more than a ballot, and I just won’t be fooled into thinking it makes the difference.