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It strikes me as ironic that the progressive voice in this country is the one so often reduced to using negative, reactionary language. There’s an anti-Iraq-war movement, various protests against the war on Terror, activist groups opposing global warming, and reactionary flare-ups about everything from wiretapping to airline searches. I understand that these issues might seem like things that need to be stopped, but there’s something both disempowering and desperate about such shrill and panicky responses.

Why can’t we make demands for what it is we DO want? Perhaps it’s the psychologist in me, but I know full well that setting up resistances tends, overwhelmingly, to just make the problem worse. Even if you’re throwing negative energy at the issue, it’s still energy. (Wasn’t it Mother Teresa who wouldn’t particpate in anti-war rallies — she was holding out for a pro-peace movement?) Why can’t there be more enthusiasm for positive changes?

I don’t buy the argument that people would be adverse to the difficulty or sacrifices involved in creating more sustainable communties, or to working, say, on small peace-building groups. This country is obnoxiously gung-ho about self-improvement: from diet books to fitness groups toward generic self-help tomes, we seem to have no problem working to better ourselves. I can’t imagine it would be that difficult to expand this obsession with perfection to a community level.

I’m a terminal optimist, I know. I’m blessed – or cursed – with an idealistic streak that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to quell. But I don’t think my dreams of working locally, on a small scale, to bring people together and to work toward positive change are either unfounded or misguided. I’m not one for the bumper sticker mentality, but there’s one I saw recently that articulated perfectly what I believe about everything that’s going on in the news: “We’re all in this together.” I think the more that’s done to bring this home – and it can be as small as smiling at strangers or waving at your neighbors in the morning – the better.

We’re all in this together. Sometimes, strangely, I can’t think of what could be more wonderful.

(Also, though I said I’m not much when it comes to bumper stickers and t-shirts, here’s another that I love. Because really: who could argue with that?)

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