The Family Next Door
Unless, dear reader, you live in a place like Beverly Hills or the Hamptons, it is fairly certain that if and when our society does a turnaround and starts being more equal and democratic and stops waging wars against others based on lies, it will be because the family that lives next door to you, along with hundreds of millions of other similar Americans, have made a revolution against the plutocracy that runs the show today. You can respond to this fact in either of two ways. You can say, "My neighbors aren't the kind of people who would ever join or even support a revolutionary movement, so I'm not going to talk to them about revolution and I'll just have to live with the fact that there's never going to be a revolution." Or you can say, "In that case, I better start talking to the family next door about why I think we need a revolution."
The first response guarantees the plutocracy will remain in power forever. It means going to demonstrations and signing petitions and voting for the lesser evil or the third party that will never get elected, and so forth, while being resigned to the fact (or stubbornly in denial of that fact) that none of this will really change anything substantial.
The second response creates the possibility of actually winning what we want. This response requires, however, leaving our comfort zone, the zone where we stay in the company of people who already agree with us, the "preaching to the choir" zone. It means learning how to be persuasive to people like the family next door. It means learning how to identify the good values that they have--equality and concern for others--in distinction to the ruling class lies they may believe, lies designed by the ruling class to prevent them from succeeding on a large scale in shaping society by their good values. It means learning how to talk about revolution as the success on a large scale of their current efforts to shape the little corner of the world over which they have any real control by these same values. This means, of course, not talking about revolution the way the Marxists do, as I discuss in my article, The Communist Revolution is Wrong.
I have written articles (here and here and here and here and here and here) designed to help you talk this way even to the family next door who consider themselves to be good Republican Party members or opponents of same-sex marriage or devout believers in the myth that we live in a democracy where voting can make a real difference. I have written an article designed to help you talk to your next door neighbor who is mainly concerned with having or getting a job and is influenced by Republican claims to be the real "job creators." I have written articles (like this one and this one) designed to help you talk to the Jewish family that has an Israeli flag draped across the outside of their house. And I've written a pamphlet, Thinking about Revolution, designed to help you talk to your neighbors about the kind of society you and probably they too would like very much to live in.
These articles were never meant to be just interesting reading for you. They were meant to help you talk to the family next door about the need for a revolution, and to give you some confidence that it might actually be possible to have a fruitful discussion with that family no matter how "un-revolutionary" they may seem on the surface.
If you want to start a political conversation with the family next door, you might try showing them This I Believe and asking them if they agree with it and want to sign it. In the Boston, Massachusetts area we have found that, in standing on the sidewalk, consistently more than two-thirds of the people who stop to read this statement end up signing it. (Most people, it is true, don't stop to read it. But the reason they don't stop has nothing to do with the statement; it is because they are in a rush, or they assume it's some commercial gimmick to get money from them, or something they just don't want to be bothered with. For all we know, as many of these people would sign as the ones who stopped, if we encountered them in a better context.)
There really is no good reason not to talk about the need for revolution with the family next door. There are, however, some very wrong reasons (or excuses). The main wrong reason is an idea that the ruling class spends billions of dollars to get us to believe: "If you want a more equal and democratic society, then you are all alone; your neighbors are selfish people who care only about their bellies and they are so satisfied with the status quo that a majority of them voted for our current leaders; they think the idea of revolution is a terrible one. Give up. Resistance is futile." If you happen to believe this wrongheaded view, then please read We CAN Change the World online here. You need to know how wrong this view of people is if you expect to have a good conversation with the family next door.
We all need to help each other get good at having these conversations with our neightbors. We need to share our experiences and ask each other for advice, learn how others handled the situations we encounter as we begin having truly revolutionary conversations with our friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors. You are invited to join the New Democracy listserve to send and receive email with others trying to do this; to join it go here. You can also stay in touch by following this facebook page or my twitter messages. People for Democratic Revolution is a new organization for those who agree with This I Believe and who want to build a revolutionary movement based on those ideas; if you want to join PDR please email them at email@example.com.
So what's your choice regarding how to respond to the fact that you need to talk about revolution to the family next door or else abandon all hope for real change? Please make the right choice, the one that makes hope for a better world, no matter how long it may take, possible.
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