Who Are We?

Who Are We?

by Susan Rosenthal

After exposing the horrors of the American medical system, Michael Moore concludes his documentary, SiCKO, by asking, “Who are we, that we allow such suffering?” When Moore appeared on Oprah’s talk show, she turned to the television audience and repeated the question.

Naomi Klein poses the same question. Her book, The Shock Doctrine, documents how the people in power engineer catastrophes and exploit natural disasters to profit a few. How awful! Who are we, that we tolerate such injustice?

Capitalists and their supporters reply, “Human nature is brutal and cannot change.” They want to keep the door shut on any discussion of who we are and the kind of society we could have. As far as they are concerned, we are their creatures and should remain so. We labor to enrich them. We suffer and die to build their empires. That’s who they want us to be.

Who decides who we are? Moore and Klein and a growing number of activists are saying, “We decide who we are.” And so the revolution begins.

Who do we want to be?

Studies show that people value kindness more than any other characteristic. Compassion in thought, word and deed is universally appreciated regardless of nationality, culture or religion. By acknowledging kindness as the highest human value, we define who we are and the type of world that we want.

Most people want to live in a compassionate and sharing world, a giving-and-forgiving world, a help-each-other-out world, an all-for-one-and-one-for-all world, democratically managed by all of us, for all of us.

A truly democratic society can remake itself in any way it chooses. As Klein points out, the idea that people should not have the power to decide how the economy functions “is and remains the single most anti-democratic idea of our time.”

The capitalists don’t want a compassionate world or a democratic world. There would be no profit in it. They want more and bigger weapons, more prisons, more surveillance and more repression to keep their power growing and their profits flowing.

When millions of people question this arrangement, when they begin to ask, “Who are we?” then the days of the oppressors are numbered.

We are the majority, and we can change the world. We lack confidence because we are divided. But we can change that. We can organize. Together, we can free ourselves from this heartless hell of capitalism. There could be no act of compassion greater than that.

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Ron Says:

    October 11/07

    Love your writings, Susan. Keep shining your light in this world of darkness: never ending wars, exploitation, and the widespread impoverishment of the people and the earth for the benefit of a few under capitalism.

    I recently came across this little story about an old Cherokee who is teaching his grandson about life:

    “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win grandfather?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

    Capitalism feeds the first wolf, while socialism feeds the second. Unfortunately, we live under capitalism and all its hideous influences while wanting to live in a better world.

    It seems to me that the challenge for all those who want to change the system is to filter out all the negative influences and lies of capitalism, and to seek the truth, wherever we can find it, while learning to trust and love one another enough to be able to move together to change the system.

  2. James Collier Says:

    October 26/07

    It is interesting, America was built on the idea of self-determination, and many dismiss the idea of universal health care as “totalitarianism.” I’m no fancy-pants thinker, but the current situation looks like the “totalitarianism” they are trying to protect us from.

    So we find ourselves in a strange quandary–where the only affordable way to get health care is to work for a corporation (or government). You join the corporate party or you pay through the nose. And even for those who play, those benefits are distributed unevenly between labor and management.

    Corporate health care is a closed game: it is closed to those do not wish to work for corporations, it is closed to those who can’t afford it, and it closed to those with medical conditions that might hurt the corporate bottom line.

    Millions of Americans they have no choice but to play the corporate health care game. In my mind, that is simply un-American.

    For the longest time, I thought that resistance to universal health care was based simply on dollars and cents. But, if it was just about money, we’d have had universal health care a long time ago.

    But once I realized that the current setup is geared to service corporate totalitarianism and limit individual choice, everything began to make sense.

    Removing health care from employment would give workers FREEDOM. This point does not get brought up enough in this debate. I believe it should be raised as often as possible.

    If you could do anything you wanted what would you? Would you start a business? Would you stop working? Would you go to school? What would you do with your freedom?

    As long as health care remains in the domain of employment, we are nothing more that 21st-century sharecroppers, tied down not to the farm, but to a company and its benefits portfolio.

    Now, some people have jobs that they like and pay them well enough; and so they wholly discount this concept of corporate slavery. But for millions of Americans, this is simply not the case.

    The truth of the matter is that, for all of big business’ talk of free markets, they are afraid of a market where labor is truly free.

    What would happen if the average American worker didn’t have health care as an employment benefit, but as a social service? They could simply move to another job they might want to do. And that would put corporations in a bind because then they would really have to compete for workers’ services.

    They might run into potential employees who have the gall to say “I only work 20 hours a week, and I only work on these days.” They’d probably have to actually pay people more, and come up with new and creative ways to attract and retain employees.

    And that’s the dirty little secret about Universal Health Care. It would actually expose corporations to a truly free market.

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