Kill Rats or Feed Malnourished Children?

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Everything makes sense when I go back to Guatemala.  I've gotten increasingly interested in local politics here in Massachusetts, but going back to Guatemala puts everything in perspective.  While I still have yet to be able to fully articulate it, I think I'm finally starting to get a feel for what matters for the billions of people that inhabit the earth. 

When I put it that way it might seem simple.  But in the world of new media, where it's theoretically possible to make an impact anywhere in the globe, at any time, prioritizing makes the difference between change and keeping things the same. 

It's never been enough to say, "do good", because almost everyone, at least in their mind, feels they are a good person at heart.  It's certainly not enough to say all each of us needs to do is help a few other people, because those with the privilege to do so are too few and those that need help and support are too many.  The question has always been when and how to better the world, and the answers certainly aren't always and however.  That leads to burnout. 

I think my mind is finally grasping the necessary nuance that has always allowed me to prioritize between issues like Boston's rat problem or a "virus of potholes", and malnourished children in Guatemala.
My initial instinct was just to stay away from everything local in the U.S.  I would never put down what I felt to be a worthy local initiative I would just dedicate my time to issues that I felt more pressing.  If someone would ask me to make a difference with homelessness in Boston or CORI reform, I would express my support and work doubly hard on initiatives for the majority world. 

Since then things have changed a little, both because I've developed the contacts to make a greater impact within Massachusetts and throughout the U.S., and also because I've gained greater respect for local politics within the U.S.  For as long as I've lived, U.S. national politics just seemed to have so many layers of influence that it was hard to be effective and make change.  On a national level, I think there's a very strong argument for the fact that the U.S. is one of the most undemocratic nations in the world. 

Locally, however, the U.S. has an incredibly strong democratic culture.  With just 500 votes you can make an incredible impact on local elections, and that leaves so much room for change.  Once I was able to see how much of a difference I could make locally, in Massachusetts, so many things seemed to click for me about how the U.S. is supposed to work.  Voter turnout is low, certainly, and the federal government is hoarding way too much power and it must be stopped, but the framers of the U.S. Constitution meant to give these powers to the states and localities that I've gained such a respect for over the last few months.  Some of the most important migrant battles over the last few years have been waged over small towns, and organizing in those towns has made significant difference for migrants' quality of life. 

I certainly still have my eye on the billions of people in the world that live on under $2 a day, a way of life that someone reading this post, along with myself, can't even hope to understand.  But I believe treating migrants as humans is inexorably tied up with that fight, and that's why I've taken to building power the way I have right now, always with an eye towards the things that matter to the billions that live on this earth.  A great social movement against nativism (just like the movements against classism, sexism, and racism, before it) is the next step towards a more healthy globe.  Developing philosophical and organizational tools against nativism is what is needed most right now in the long road towards asserting all humans are created equal.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle de Beausset published on January 11, 2008 10:43 AM.

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