Friday, May 5, 2023

#125 / The Business Of Citizens Is...


Katha Pollitt, pictured above, writes a monthly column for The Nation magazine. In the March, 2023, issue, her column was titled: "For Women’s History Month, Let’s Make History."
I liked the column, which made me think that when we talk about "making history" we are really talking about things that WE do. "We" make history by doing things, both individually, and by acting in cooperation with others. We are both "individuals" and part of a greater whole, which includes all of us. 
"History" is generally seen as occurring at the level of the "collective," but it is not some abstract "collective" that actually takes action and makes changes; it is not "the government" that is supposed to do things to face down our challenges and to realize our opportunities. WE are supposed to do these things. "Government" is a tool we can use as we set out to do things, together, that will, indeed, "make history" and change the world. 

I had another thought, after reading Pollitt's column. Most of us can remember a famous quotation from American history, though there is a bit of controversy about to whom this statement should be attributed: 

I have never been much of a fan of the idea that our "business," as Americans, is "business." In my view, that phrase is definitely not the sum and substance of what we are all about, here in the United States. I would put it quite differently. Consider this, for instance, as an alternative formulation: 

The Business Of Citizens Is Self-Government
Let's not wait around for someone else to tell us what has happened to us, and about the history has been made in our names. Let's talk to our neighbors, and friends, and get to work. We have challenges and opportunities to confront, and it's not "the government" that is supposed to do things. 
WE are supposed to do things.

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