TWO SUBCULTURES THAT COULD SAVE US

Sam Smith – At a time when the first American republic seems in as much danger as it has ever experienced save for the Civil War, the question comes up: who can save us?

What is clear is that we can not reasonably expect recovery from the top. Between our corrupt social and political culture of impunity and its partner in unconstrained  economic monopolization, we can expect little from those who are meant to guide and rule us. Instead we must create havens of decency, fairness and normalcy elsewhere. 

Two potential alternatives are found in the local and amongst the young. The local is blessed by the  indifference of the powerful and the young by that endless shift in power known as aging. 

In both cases, those at the top typically ignore more than react, offering a rare chance to create alternative cultures. But the opportunity does not announce itself, it has to be discovered and created.

I live in a small town in Maine and find virtually none of the horrors of the culture of impunity attacking us locally.   We are victims of major misgovernance and corruption at the national level, but locally hold to and practice values of traditional decency. The trick is finding ways to increase the role of the local in our lives. For example, we could give ethics, cooperation and mediation much larger standing in our education programs. Having gone to a Quaker high school I’m aware that this is quite possible without harming one’s learning of, say, algebra. Our churches and community organizations could help in this as could local media. We must think of our local places as last defenders of democracy and decency and view what is happening nationally much as we do bad weather. We protect ourselves but definitely  don’t imitate it. 

As for the young, there are many historic examples of them assuming a larger than normal role and building places that work better for them and their parents. It doesn’t have to be carefully structured from the start, it can be more of an attitude and acceptance of social rebellion. For example, I was  part of a pre-Sixties revolt known as the beat generation. We nowhere matched the progress brought by our successors but we helped to create their possibility. 

The point is that even though we may not be able to defeat yet the anti-democratic attack currently taking place in America, we can build strong alternative cultures of decency and progress.