Saturday, April 16, 2011

In Search of...the well being of the majority

So I was watching Shirley MacLaine on Oprah the other day, (and let's face it, who wasn't), and Oprah said that Shirley's book Out on a Limb changed the way she thought about everything and that she viewed Shirley MacLaine as one of her great teachers. Well, who doesn't want to just rush out and read a book after that kind of endorsement?! So I marched myself to the local library the next day and checked out a copy. Boys and girls, Oprah was right, and this book does not disappoint.

I've resisted writing blogs for several weeks now, because frankly, all I've been feeling is a huge sense of disappointment and despair about our country and about our world. The majority of people, if you ask them, will tell you they are "believers" of some sort. And I want to say, "believers in what?" - greed, mean-spiritedness, war, poverty, stupidity? I look at the world and know that it represents the sum total of the individuals in it, and knowing that has left me at a loss for words.

So there I sat reading Out on a Limb, which came out in the 1980's, some thirty years ago. And my new best friend, Shirley MacLaine, talked about feeling similarly when traveling the globe. But the thing that hit me like a bolt of lightning was when she talked about how we have veered as a nation away from the basic philosophy on which we were founded, and that was "the well being of the majority." I don't remember hearing it ever put like that, and it sums up what should inform our choices on every level.

I don't know about you, but I have not heard ANYONE talking about that. I've heard talk of deficit reduction and spending cuts, but not about "the well being of the majority." So, dear readers, let's talk about that for a minute.

Is it the well being of the majority to cut Medicare?
Is it the well being of the majority to cut spending on education?
Is it the well being of the majority to be at war? (Is it the well being of anyone to be at war?)
Is it the well being of the majority to get rid of the EPA, the only safeguard we have to regulate our incessant destruction of the planet?
Is it the well being of the majority to stay dependent on oil when things like the sun and wind are free and don't destroy the planet and instigate wars?
Is it the well being of the majority to applaud fame over accomplishment, power over peace, hatred and closed mindedness over tolerance and love?
What is truly for the well being of the majority?

And who, if not all of us at this very moment, will have the courage to choose the well being of the majority?

If the majority doesn't speak for itself, rest assured the minority will. And let's be clear that the minority (big business, the uber wealthy, Wall Street, fundamentalist religious groups of all kinds, etc.) has their own interests and not yours as their priority. We (the little people) who frequently feel that our voices do not matter are the MAJORITY!

So I suggest to you that your one little phone call or email to your representatives and my little phone call and email to my representatives, and our neighbors' calls and votes make all the difference in the world.

I grant you that life is busy and our worries are many and well founded, but the people who are making up the rules of the game are put there by us, the majority. And so added to the list of our things we must do, like putting food on the table and gas in the car, is holding the people we put in charge accountable for "the well being of the majority."

We enjoy untold freedoms and outside of those that serve in the military, we somehow share no sense of responsibility for the protection of those freedoms we enjoy. But they come at a price that's not only paid with the blood of our service men and women. The price we must pay for the country we enjoy is the responsibility for seeing to it that it is run correctly, that the values on which it was predicated are not eroded by corruption and greed. This is the responsibility of the population. It is yours and mine - the majority.

So on this beautiful Saturday in April, let's not only take an interest in, but take responsibility for the well being of the majority. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.


  1. Well said, Ilene! I totally agree with everything you said. BTW, I read Out On A Limb years ago (and even saw the miniseries), and it made such an impact on my life. I'd always believed in the things Shirley talked about, but to actually see it put down on paper made me feel so good, and less alone. She became one of my heroes because of that book.

    - Annie Silver

    I used to sit idly by and assume that others would take care of the politics and make things right, but no longer. I don't trust that the politicians will do anything for the well being of the majority. Perhaps a small town politician might, but when they're in higher positions, there's so much more power that comes along with it. And, unfortunately, I think most people in those positions abuse that power. So I do make those phone calls now and I do sign those petitions - and I hope that the few honest people in power will do the right thing. I do what I can and hope for the best.

  2. There was a miniseries? Who knew?!