Every election is portrayed as a crossroads, but the choices we make this year will have far-reaching consequences. We have already begun a dangerous descent into dysfunction and division that won’t be easy to reverse. The magnitude of human crises defines this new decade and, as David Brooks wrote, our lives will be defined by how we respond to our moment of greatest adversity. Wyoming Rising is committed to making this moment count.
A central crisis in present-day America is the lack of integrity at the highest levels of government. Of course, we’ve always had dishonest politicians. But the people who elect and empower them are not fundamentally dishonest. The real battle isn’t between good and evil, but between reflective and reflexive politics. Too many of us scarcely bother to examine the evidence or to comprehend history. Twentieth-century philosopher and social activist Bertrand Russell said democracies require intelligence even more than virtue. To that end, our speakers today will enlighten our minds just as the march has enlivened our spirits.
We could use some of Russell’s wisdom, particularly his prophetic description of how human desires shape history. Foremost among these are vanity and love of power. He said, “It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the influence of vanity throughout the range of human life, from the child of three (who says, ‘look at me’) to the potentate at whose frown the world trembles.” He went on to say that love of power is insatiable and feeds on itself. “In any autocratic regime, the holders of power become increasingly tyrannical [as they] experience … the delights that power can afford.”
It’s up to us to restrain abusive power. Thinking and understanding will inform our votes more reliably than instinct or ideology. And with insight comes vision. Charles Dickens envisioned the aftermath of the French Revolution, “I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, … I see the evil of this time … gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.” Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we celebrate today proclaimed, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Ronn Smith, co-chair
Introductory remarks at the March For A Better America. Cody Wyoming. January 18, 2020.