by Susan Rosenthal
(Updated at: What Can I Do?)
My book, POWER and Powerlessness, has been out for nearly six months, and the question I am asked most often is "What can I do?"
The book explains how we are kept powerless and how much power we could have if we pulled together. But where do we start? The problems are so big, and we are so divided.
The first step is to realize that you are not alone. That’s why I wrote the book. Most people feel the same fear and pain that you do and, just like you, they think they are the only ones who feel that way. Knowing that you are not alone will give you hope and courage.
The next step is to talk about the book with people you know. I organized it into bite-sized portions that are easy to share. You could bring the book to work, to school, to a book club, or discuss it with a friend or family member. You’ll be surprised at the relief that people feel when they learn that their problems are not their fault and that their lives could be so much better.
You will need to find more people. Today, thousands are demonstrating their opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Most Americans want the war to end, yet Washington is moving in the opposite direction, escalating the horror. We must protest this insanity!
Going to demonstrations is a way to meet like-minded people and find organizations that you can join and help to build. Most important, demonstrations are a public display of mass cooperation. When people from different walks of life come together for a common purpose, they are changed by the experience.
Being part of something bigger than yourself increases your sense of power. Feeling the support of people all around you raises the hope that change is possible. Mass cooperation won us civil rights, women’s rights, union rights, and every other right worth having. Cooperation changes people, and it can change the world.
To keep us divided and feeling powerless, the public is discouraged from attending or supporting picket lines, political protests, and other demonstrations. The organizers get little or bad press, and the number of participants is grossly under-estimated. A heavy police presence serves to intimidate, even though most demonstrations are peaceful. When police attack demonstrators, the media highlight this violence to scare other people away.
A tiny number of powerful people want to keep the rest of us under their thumbs. They fear our collective power. When demonstrations grow large enough, there are no police. Confronted by our superior numbers, they are powerless and they know it.
Let’s get out and find each other and build a new world — together.
For more on this subject read POWER and Powerlessness. Available at www.powerandpowerlessness.com