New Rules (or, if I ran the world…)

I’m a big fan of Bill Maher & the great & intelligent panel discussions & funny jokes he tells on his TV show "Real Time." Being a non-TV person myself, I watch these episodes when visiting a friend.

We laugh our socks off listening to Maher, who really does have the most interesting & insightful guests! A relatively recent one, for example, was Jack Kevorkian, who’d just been released from prison. Very clever & witty guy!

Maher also has a portion of the show called “New Rules.” He rhymes off a whole bunch of clever “new rules” about things that are in the news that are really raising his dander. They’re always incisive, well-worded & hilarious.

Now, I recently attended a Council meeting in Pembroke, Ontario. (Just for the record, this was on April 20, 2010.)

Pembroke is a small city in eastern Ontario, Canada (population? I think around 14,000) that is situated on the mighty Ottawa River. Up river from Ottawa (Canada’s capital city) & downriver from the town & nuclear facilities at Chalk River (also just for the record). Pembroke is home to the SRB tritium light facility, also. (I should say more about this, but not today… Check out this site for more. The Rick Mercer skit is a must-see!)

I couldn’t help myself during this meeting. I scrawled some notes about new rules I’d make if I ran the world – all of them coming as a result of watching the antics & shenanigans of the Council as they went about their business. (I’ve been to lots of Council meetings in my time, in several small towns. Folks used to suggest I run for Council myself back in two I used to live in, but for one thing, I used to believe I wasn't smart enough. Then too, I’ve always said the stuff small town politicians deal with is just too darn boring. Personally, I’d really rather watch paint dry…)

Well. I could say plenty about the stuff that went on at the meeting, & why I was there, & all that kind of razz-ma-tazz, but I’m going to spare you.

Instead, I’m just going to tell you the “New Rules” I came up with, OK? Here goes:

Business suits are to be abolished! Neckties also. I have always firmly believed that when men get themselves all suited up in suits & neckties, it cuts off their circulation. Their brains & good ideas. Their humanity, humour & common sense. It somehow just seems to make them lose touch with down-to-earth-ness. Off with the suits, I say!!

Henceforth, all meetings in the world will be conducted in circles. No fancy raised platforms for tribunal members, mayors, politicians or any other assorted (& self-proclaimed) experts & bigshots. Everyone sits in the same circle. Capiche?

The Lord’s prayer (almost always recited quickly, by rote, & with no depth, meaning or sincerity whatsoever) is to be replaced by a 3-minute reflection on at least 5 things for which one is grateful. This is an exercise that becomes more & more meaningful with time & practice, not less & less so, as appears to be the case with “the Lord’s Prayer.”

Democracy is under stern orders to be spruced up!! It needs to be made more fun; more… sexy?? People stay away from the political process & fail to exercise their democratic rights & responsibilities because all the folks involved seem so damn…serious. Boring. Fun-challenged. Bring on the fun, I say!! Dances. Parades. Music. Fun, dammit! We need some creativity here!!

Fancy titles & roles & any associated fancy-schmancy outfits are to be abolished immediatement. No more “Your Highness” & “Your Excellency” & “Your Worship” & other such fluffy & utterly meaningless, substance-less titles. We is all jes’ folks, hmm? It’s when we revert to roles & their trappings & their associated … bumph (did I just make up a word?) that we lose sight of our common roots & humanity. With the simple fact that we are all just people who pull our pants on one leg at a time (or heck, maybe both at once. Whatever!) Point is, no one is any damn better than anyone else. Got that?


p.s. a few bracing quotations about democracy (just ‘cos I feel like it & Hey! this is my blog; I get to say whatever I like!):

“The most serious threat to democracy is the notion that it has already been achieved.” – Source unknown

“True democracy is only possible when people have effective power over their own affairs, their own goals, and their own resources. The larger the governing unit, the less responsive it is to human needs, the more bureaucratic and inefficient its administration. Government, we must always remind ourselves, is not (or should not be) a professionally organized system to tell people how to run their affairs; it is (or should be) a means whereby people themselves are enabled to resolve matters in their own community.” ~ John Papworth in Putting Power In Its Place

“Life is a passion of activity, or it is nothing. Genuine democracy rests, not upon an attitude of pleased expectation of receiving, not upon an irresponsible sense of liberty to work one’s will, but upon unflinching self-surrender, unceasing activity in behalf of the common good. Services must be voluntarily rendered, often more strenuous than those exacted by superiors under the old feudal order. For democracy is a stern and lofty creed of willing self-denial, of responsibilities staunchly borne, or it is a chaos and a failure, a stampede of the masses for power or for gain.” – Margaret Sherwood, 1918

Tommy Douglas on Fascism: “Once more let me remind you what fascism is. It need not wear a brown shirt or a green shirt – it may even wear a dress shirt. Fascism begins the moment a ruling class, fearing the people may use their political democracy to gain economic democracy, begins to destroy political democracy in order to retain its power of exploitation and special privilege.”

“Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism.” ~ Noam Chomsky

“The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.” Alex Carey

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)[Now ain’t that one a beauty! Any recent Prez’s come to mind??]

“You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can’t get there, obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate masters, and Nature destroyers. We can’t get there, kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn’t disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth.” – Richard Grossman

“Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it’s something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.” – Abbie Hoffman

** lots more relevant quotes here