Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thank you, Wisconsin friends

I'm taking a break from blogging until Monday. But I wanted to offer some words of gratitude here for this Thanksgiving week.

First, I want to thank all you folks out there gathering signatures on recall petitions as the weather gets colder and nastier. I want to thank especially those people standing with their clipboards amidst the crowds at Lambeau Field on Sunday. I have no doubt you received a load of grief from many fans, evidenced by the fear on the face of one young man as I approached him, and his relief when I cheered him on.

I want to thank the tens of thousands of people who showed up in Madison many times this year, including this past Saturday, for your good spirit as you reclaim space for the voices of those silenced in this repressive, divisive atmosphere created by the politics of exclusion of the current state government.

I want to thank those dedicated workers who are on the front lines dealing with the impacts on real human beings of the cuts in health care programs, education, and other essential services. I want to thank dedicated public sector workers who hang in there despite the demonization of them that is all the rage these days from the political right, including those who have been picking up our leaves and who will be plowing our snow this winter. What would we do without you?

And a special shout-out of thanks to public school teachers who these days seem to be on so many Repub dart boards. I don't get it, and this, too, shall pass. What you do is so important.

I want to thank the Occupiers who have sent a burst of energy into our movements for social justice, fairness, and decency, and for helping to make the concentration of wealth part of our national conversation - finally!!

I want to once again thank the Wisconsin 14 for their witness, for taking the drastic step that helped bring the true intentions of the Walker/Fitzgerald brothers into the light of day. You also helped reinvigorate popular democracy showing that sometimes elected officials will actually respond to, even take risks on behalf of, the people they represent.

This is a beautiful state full of good, good people. Yet, even as I give thanks here, I am aware that right in my own city there are thousands of people who are suffering from deep poverty, discrimination, and a special kind of urban hopelessness. As we give thanks, let's also remember that we have to do better than this.

While we worry about worker rights, let's also worry about poverty. While we worry about protecting wages and benefits in the public sector, let's also remember those with no wages or benefits. While we loudly defend our democratic rights, let's remember those whose voices are barely heard amidst all the noise, who are most likely to be shoved farther to the margins by the current regime.

Let's remember that our struggle is not a just one if we are only defending our own interests and the interests of our particular sector, union, or interest group. Our struggle is only just if it has at its foundation a concern for the well-being of all, for the common good and the good of the commons.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

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