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19 August 2005

We The People

Over time, I have become more and more disillusioned in our system. While many of our generation have fallen into the pessimistic complacency so common with our parents generation, I feel that we have to do something -- if for no other reason than to give our children something better than we had.

But, it's difficult. Society has trained us to accept things at face value and to not fight. It taught us to give in.

Don't believe me? Look at how often airline travelers that get screwed by the airline sleep at the airport instead of demanding hotel accomodations be paid for. You don't think they will? When we came back from our honeymoon, they had overbooked. An AA representative purposefully sent a large group of us to the wrong floor, thus missing our flight. When we got to our window, we had noticed that many in front of us had asked for hotel accomodations, and were told they had to pay for them themselves. They left, mumbling and grumbling. A group of us, all from the same flight, all destined for Portland, revolted. Not in the sense of a hold up or anything like that -- but, we each took a line, blocking AA from doing any business whatsoever, demanding hotel accomodations. They couldn't kick us out, because we were legit customers trying to get help. However, after about 1-1/2 hours of AA hearing complaints from all of their lines, and not making any sales -- they gave us what we asked for.

Want another example? When I was in college, we were told that we could not invite anyone other that college students to our student-run events. However, when we started our club, we had went out of our way to write a 13-page constitution and bylaws, which the school had signed ;) In it, we had explained that part of what we were to do was to help bridge the growing gap between the students and the community. As such, and after pointing such out, the school felt obliged to let us try it once. We thought of the idea less than 2 weeks before the event, had no funds, and our club was very small. 2 days before the event, we photocopied some flyers at Minute Market, hung them around campus, at the highschool, and downtown, and crossed our fingers. We had over 800 people show up to the first Valentine's Vampyr Masquerade Ball. The following year, the school gave us an addition $900 to help us do the event -- because we were more successful than any college-run event. The club and event survived for 2 years past my graduation, and I still hear people talk about restarting the event here, 300 miles away.

How about another example? The college offers what they call Interdisciplinary degrees. Usually, that will be something like Business and Computers, or some similar marketable combination. What happens if you want a combination they don't currently list? They tell you that you can't, that you have to choose one that they offer. Most people accept that and settle. Instead, I demanded that they allow me to do it. They finally gave me a piece of paper with requirements listed and said "choose x credits from this column, y from this column, etc and explain how you will do your practicum"... End result? My degree is in Computers, Psychology and Writing.

The point is, most people turn away the first time they are turned down. Unless they know they are supposed to haggle (like in some foreign countries), they assume that option isn't open to them. They see red tape like their own personal Berlin wall, and don't try to cross it. My view? Red tape can be cut with a simple pair of scissors.

So, back to the point. We need to do something about our system. About our government, our voting rights, our human rights, national fraud, etc etc... How? That's a good question. Perhaps we just need to notice that the reason we feel we can't do anything is because a simple piece of colored ribbon is blocking our path. Perhaps what we need to do is decide what WE want, how WE want it to work, and then tell those that are supposed to represent US how THEY are going to do what WE want.