The basic necessities of life
are a right, not a privilege
If the statement on the back of the 2013 ComFest volunteer T-shirts sounds familiar, there’s good reason. The slogan chosen by organizers for the themeof this year’s fest leaps straight off the page of Community Festival’s Statement of Principles:
The basic necessities of life are a right, not a privilege.
That seems entirely reasonable, doesn’t it? Healthy food on the table, a sturdy roof overhead, a safe place to study, work worth doing. Access to affordable healthcare, an inclusive culture based on common good, safe and well-funded public schools, knowing that everyone else has the same right: the right to live in peace.
Then why is it so hard to accomplish?
Certainly plenty of people have been working toward such simple justice for whole lifetimes — that should count for something.
Every day there are hundreds of organizations raising awareness and funding to try to fix every part of the problem: ending hunger, homelessness and war; stopping repression and oppression; securing education, healthcare, jobs; saving the planet from ourselves. Surely that’s progress?
Yet Guantanamo. Yet drones. Yet wiretapping and war profiteering and pension-stripping and hate-mongering and earth-fracturing.
Still rape and toxic spills and land grabs. Still more fear, uncertainty and doubt. Still obstinate obstructionism and resolute rejectionism.
What can anyone do?
The answer is simple: ORGANIZE. The same message that has built every successful movement for social change and economic justice, from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall.
Working cooperatively for the common good is the only thing that works to bring justice. As the ComFest Principles emphasize, “People have the collective right to control the conditions of their lives.”
But it’s only when huge numbers of individuals take collective action that those rights have any meaning. When too many people settle for being consumers of news, rather than makers of history, progress falters and more people are outside the circle.
So what can you do? You can become part of something bigger than yourself, and find out that together common people really can change the world.
Right now, the greedy of the world have two things to support them: They have no shame, and we have no organization.
One of these things is fixable.
Right now, you can get beyond your comfort zone to reach common ground with other citizens of Earth. Step away from the keyboard. Meet face-t–face with others who share your knowledge and concerns. If you’re not in an organization, find one that thinks like you do, and sign yourself up.
Learn why the groups that are already working working on the problem do things the way they do. Search for training in organizing and leadership, initiate discussions of strategy. Study what works, and what doesn’t work.
Seek out the coalition-builders. Find new ways to bring people together to work effectively for justice. Share knowledge and contacts and analyses.
And this weekend, bring your dancing shoes, because we’re gathering again on common ground to celebrate common good, to awaken common dreams. There are friends to laugh with, songs to sing, plans to hatch. Let’s get started.
2013 Program Guide