The July 4 holiday in the United States commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Anyone educated in this country has been propagandized with lies about patriotic colonists seeking freedom from a tyrannical British monarch. Our minds were filled with tales of Paul Revere and Betsy Ross which erase the role that indigenous and Black people played as they attempted to end true tyranny over their lives. The present day traditions of enjoying cookouts, vacations, and fireworks should not obscure the true meaning of this date.
There's so much more underway, such as placing a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street speculators; a surge in co-ops as a democratic alternative to corporate control; getting Monsanto's genetically altered organisms out of our food supply; a vibrant and positive campaign by immigrants themselves for immigrant rights; battling giants such as Disney World and Walmart to win paid sick leave days for low-wage workers; freeing college students from Wall Street's loan sharks. All of these and so many more are the sprouting seeds of a widespread, flourishing Populist movement. The moment is ripe to bond them into something larger.
Successful nonviolent action often hinges on fusing the transcendent with the everyday. While it frames the struggle in visionary terms like “justice,” it does so in ways that we can touch, feel, see and experience up close. So, for example, the civil rights movement’s lunch counter sit-ins in the 1960s indissolubly linked the trans-historical crime of racism with the need all of us have to eat three times a day, driving home monumental injustice in terms most people could viscerally grasp: an obstacle to straightforwardly meeting the most basic of human needs. American revolutionaries got the point across about their British overlords by pitching a colonial staple into Boston harbor. Gandhi shook the same imperial system 150 years later by illegally making salt. Both cases pointed out the crises of their time by using material both highly symbolic but also utterly at hand, thus managing to transform an often abstract and elusive form of oppression, the overarching machinery of empire, into a reality that people could touch — and, by touching, change. Now, sand has entered the mix.