Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to bring power to the people who care. Learn more at the end of this article.
When we have the courage to speak out -- to break our silence -- we inspire
the rest of the "moderates" in our communities to speak up and voice their
- Sharon Schuster
"Moderates" is what Schuster calls people who have thoughts, ideas, opinions and criticisms about what happens in their communities, but aren't prepared to speak up to do anything about it.
Why would that be? In the past (my past at least) I heard the old saying that "you can't fight city hall," meaning that established governments have resources that can support or oppose anything that the powers behind them want. That includes challenges in court as they use tax money to pay teams of lawyers, as necessary.
That situation hasn't changed. No doubt it is very hard to oppose the direction any level of government is taking, especially if it involves a courtroom. However, more and more class action suits are not only being accepted by the courts, but winning against governments and big industry.
Suits against Big Tobacco are prime examples of how ordinary folks who have been hurt by an industry who purposely put poisons and addictive substances into tobacco products in order to sell more product were able to gain substantial retribution and compensation from those industries.
However, the landscape has changed somewhat over the past few decades. Now it's not the governments themselves that hold the power over what they do--that is the representatives of the people who elected them--but the power behind the elected representatives. When it counts, the vote goes to the money.
No doubt our elected representative influence the way a vote goes in a legislative body for much of its day-to-day business. But on important matters, questions about which the moneyed backers of elected representatives want to have a vote go one way or another, the power of the backroom--and the boardrooms behind them--matters more than the consciences of the representatives themselves.
The best examples of these are the U.S. Senate whose activities play out in the media daily. Others include the past two U.S. presidential elections where the president of the most powerful country in the world was decided less by voters and more by the powers behind the scenes who influenced everyone from the Supreme Court to the people who counted ballots (but not those with hanging chads).
However, there is one place where ordinary people can express themselves and find others who think like them. That place is the small newspaper that may publish daily, twice a week, weekly or even twice a month. These editors and publishers want local opinion and those who are prepared to speak out (and speak up) can find an outlet for their views in the editorial pages.
When we think of newspapers, we tend to think of the biggest of them. But their editorial policies may prohibit those with viewpoints that differ from that of the publisher/owner from finding daylight. The small papers like to support local opinion and are happy when they can get behind a worthy project and support those who want to make it happen.
They want readers and don't mind a bit of controversy because they know that controversy brings more readers.
Those who believe they can't reach a larger audience with their opinions may find willing support for their ideas if they can write in publishable form. Small newspaper always need news and editorial material.
The only power that supercedes that of the backroom boys in legislative votes is the power of the public as demonstrated by the popularity of their opinions in the media. Small newspapers offer that potential to those who want to spread the word about something in ways that no other medium could.
Today's ordinary citizen may not have any more power than a citizen of the past. But the ones who learn how to work the small newspapers to their advantage can make a difference without having the big money that backs most elected representatives.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, a book that gives the background needed by every citizen about how to make their community, their families and their personal lives better and safer.
Learn more at http://billallin.com