I believe strongly in the human capacity to change. In World War II this nation had to mobilize almost overnight. It was incredible. The U.S. became a different country in the course of just a few months. Families grew their own food. They stopped driving for pleasure. They recycled metal, rubber, and paper. Kids collected foil gum-wrappers and made them into balls for aluminum factories that produced aircraft and ship parts. Auto manufacturers stopped making cars for three years and just produced defense equipment. The glaring difference between then and now is that during World War II our leaders were loyal to the American public and inspired a patriotism that helped win the war. Today our leaders are loyal to fossil-fuel corporations and divide citizens, making neighbors into enemies.
Back in World War II citizens known as victory speakers helped mobilize the nation rapidly. They were average people who would give five-minute talks at bridge clubs, movie theaters, PTA meetings — anywhere. My mother and grandmother were both victory speakers and gave four to five speeches a day, telling people how to garden and can vegetables to conserve resources for the war effort.
People listen to trusted members of the community more than they listen to scientists or academics. Victory speakers can wake Americans up to our new reality and tell them what they can do about it. Neighborhood associations are tremendous for this. Churches are already organized through their committees and membership lists. I also see a role for the Internet and social media. A league of concerned citizens has to step up and say, “This will be my purpose. I can’t solve all the problems. I can’t plant all the gardens. But I’m going to take on the task of waking people up.”
Should I send around a sign-up sheet?