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05/19/2008: "#116: The Future And You"

Music: Mastodon
Mood: hopeful

Yesterday, I went with my fellow Shining Creamsicles to see Cory Doctorow read from his new book, Little Brother. Although I knew he was a fellow sci-fi writer, I had never read any of his books and knew of him mainly through his blogging at BoingBoing, which I consider one of the best blogs the interweb has to offer.

It was the first book signing that I have attended since I have "crossed over" to the author's side of the table, and I will keep this one in my mind a perfect example of how they should be. I was already planning to buy a copy of the book based on San's recommendation but was sold by his reading of Chapter 12 of the book. The Q&A session was also quite awesome as well, and delved a lot into things such as RFID, computer security, and the need to be hopeful about the future. Someone told Doctorow that he was a "techno-triumphalist," someone who sees that we need to fight to make a better future, but it is one that we can win.

Seeing Cory Doctorow was great for many reasons. It was great to see an author who is a contemporary of mine give a rousing book signing, and what he talked about in his book and in the Q&A were things that have been on my mind lately. The past couple of weeks I have noticed the intense incessant drumbeat of the mainstream media about how bad things are: gas prices, food inflation, recession, Iraq, politics. A perfect example of this is a cover story in Newsweek about the rise of the "post-American" world. It's not that I am opposed to the growth of other countries; in fact, I think it is great.

What I don't think is great is this large group of Americans who are think their country is going in the wrong direction BUT AREN'T DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT. You know, the kind of people who live comfortable lives and said how they were going to move to Canada if Bush, Jr. won reelection but didn't go. It's not just those folks, it's been a Generation X kind of thing. There has been a complete disengagement with politics until very recently. Things have gotten to this point because the disengagement up to this point was a reaction caused by repulsion to what politics had become in the past twenty years or so. Instead of talking about substantive issues, politicians, aided and abetted by the media, would rather divide people up by taking about social issues. Nobody wants to work together anymore, and as a result, the actual things that need doing never get done.

I for one am willing to be positive about America's future, but only if we can get a majority of people to reengage in politics on every level. For too long it has been left to special interest groups and corporations to run the political tables. You can't really begrudge them in that they have been the only ones willing to engage in politics for a long time and as a result have gotten what they wanted. You can't expect to sit in front of your preferred media delivery device passively consuming the media of your choice and expect anything to change.

I have been taking baby steps myself regarding reengagement with politics. Earlier this year, I went to my first political caucus and I spent most of April sitting on the jury of a civil trial. Personally, I would rather think of myself as a citizen than as a consumer. While you do have the power to vote with your wallet, it is only half of the solution. The other half is actively participating to make sure the politicians you voted for are doing what you want them to be doing and to work to replace them if they aren't.

For some people, they will continue to fight politically for the rights of the group that they belong to are adequately represented. I have no problems with that; after all, it is everyone's individual choice as to where they want to direct their energies. Personally, for me, since I am starting from the point where I consider that everyone is equal, I want to direct my energies to efficient government. For too many years, it's been a fight between those who want government to do everything for everyone and those who want the government to do little or nothing for people. Now it seems that the legacy of Bush, Jr. on his party is that the people who used to want smaller government are now OK with big government as long as big government promotes their social agenda. What about efficient government? By efficient government, I mean the right to efficient government services for those who need them as well as the right to opt out of using them if you do not want them.

Well, that is one of my ideas on how to fight for a positive future. There are many more where that came from. I know I have been using this space mostly for updates on my writing, but I envision the athenaverse as a place where I can say what I want to say when the need arises, and sometimes, like in this post, the twain have met.

See you in the future!

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