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Lessons From The Sandbox

by admin on August 4, 2009

A burst of voices and laughter heralds recess. Kids bullet out of the classroom to find their favorite spot on the playground. Katie, Allie, and Sam like the sandbox, but so does Gunner and that’s always a problem. Gunner is territorial, piles up the toys on “his side,” tells Katie, Allie, and Sam what to do, and gets aggressive if they don’t play his game. When he starts throwing sand, the others protest but he keeps at it. Eventually they call the teacher. Now imagine the teacher supporting and even encouraging Gunner. Guest post by Viktoria Vidali.

A Simple Analogy

As simple as it is, this analogy explains in part what is happening on the world arena. A few have taken control of what should be shared with everyone. The distorted values of this minority elite are protected by governments, powerful corporations, and to a large degree sanctioned by religion. This minority owns big media that saturates the population 24/7 with the presumptive rightness of its ideologies, like competitiveness (which discourages people from working together and gaining strength to upset the status quo), materialism (which encourages people to work harder so that they can buy more things and also locks in the false connection between self worth and money), and the law of attraction (which abrogates responsibility).

It [the law of attraction] argues that we attract those things in life, whether it is money, relationships or employment, which we focus on. Suddenly, abused and battered wives or children, the unemployed, the depressed and mentally ill, the illiterate, the lonely, those grieving for lost loved ones, those crushed by poverty, the terminally ill, those fighting with addictions, those suffering from trauma, those trapped in menial and poorly paid jobs, those whose homes are in foreclosure or who are filing for bankruptcy because they cannot pay their medical bills, are to blame for their negativity. The ideology justifies the cruelty of unfettered capitalism, shifting the blame from the power elite to those they oppress. And many of us have internalized this pernicious message, which in times of difficulty leads to personal despair, passivity and disillusionment … The message that we can have everything we want if we dig deep enough inside ourselves, if we truly believe we are exceptional, is pumped out daily over the airwaves in advertisements, through the plot and story lines of television programs and films, and bolstered by the sickeningly cheerful and upbeat banter of well-groomed television hosts. This is the twisted ideological lens through which we view the world. ~ Chris Hedges’ Happiness Consultants Won’t Stop a Depression.

As a result, great numbers of people think and act against their own best interests and wonder why they rarely have the freedom and peace of mind to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Even when they “get the whole picture,” they are often so distracted or overworked that they lack the energy and will to bring about fundamental change.

What’s Fair

Since the World Social Forum came upon the supranational stage in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 2001, alternatives to a failed system that deprives too many of a decent life have been proposed and in places implemented by the swelling ranks of the poor and marginalized and by all those who understand that there is plenty to go around. What exactly is being demanded? The right to honest work, a living wage, food, clean water, a home, a healthy environment, an education, health care, a responsive self-government, and peace.

They’re demanding what’s fair!

Social movements to actualize these human rights are gaining momentum one by one across South America – Venezuela,* Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Paraguay. They are bringing hope of a better life and renewal to their citizens. At the same time the world’s people are largely getting poorer, we see the biggest concentration of wealth and income in the fewest numbers.** Gunner has demanded and received more of the sandbox and governments are saying this is perfectly fine. Go right ahead, Gunner! You deserve it!

A Personal Question

Many of us are only now seeing the immensity of these global problems and how they affect all of us and are asking ourselves:

Can we personally be truly happy knowing that so many are suffering?

While we should be grateful for the gifts we have received, we must learn to give our energy and resources to work for a better world where every person’s rights are respected. How can we do this? The answer is to act, because we each have something valuable to give. By giving, we renew our vital connection to all members of the human family. The kind of action we initiate and sustain in solidarity with others is open to our own creative imaginations.


* For more on Venezuela’s participative democracy,

** Confer Political Economics Professor Jack Rasmus’ book: The Trillion Dollar Income Shift – Essays on Income Inequality in America.


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