Welcome to Week 36 of Be the Change!

It feels like every year the gap between the words of those honoring Dr. King and their actions grows even wider, to the point that it's gone from hypocritical to humorous to despicable. For instance, this morning Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, tweeted about Dr. King that his "beacon of hope & liberty still burns bright in Texas." This is the same man that has signed into law draconian restrictions of the voting rights of his citizens and pushed legislation that "eliminates any requirements for public schools to teach students about Martin Luther King Jr., the Ku Klux Klan, women's suffrage, and a number of topics related to the Civil Rights movement." Senator Sinema of Arizona, who is continuing to oppose modifying the filibuster so that voting rights can be preserved, has frequently spoken of John Lewis--after whom the voting rights bill she is blocking is named--as her hero. And Judd Legum of the Popular Information Newsletter has a Twitter thread with 50 examples of companies praising Dr. King today that have also donated to the Republican party--that is, the political party that is actively eroding his legacy.

I think we've forgotten what sacrifice truly looks like. Whether it's the climate crisis, the erosion of democracy, or the pandemic, fewer and fewer Americans are willing to give anything up for the common good. I don't know if that's due to social media and the ways in which everything is politicized, so that any action--wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, turning down the thermostat, supporting voting rights--becomes wrapped up in one's political identity; or if the ease with which we can consume--one-click shopping and same-day delivery and all literature and movies and TV shows available to stream instantly--has spoiled us; or if perhaps examples of previous sacrifice, like the planting of victory gardens during World War II, aren't as compelling as they seem.

Whatever the cause, the fact remains: we cannot bequeath to our children a habitable, equitable world shouting from our couches, nor can we expect to have everything and give up nothing. Which isn't to say that we all have to die in the struggle or live like monks. Far from it. There is great joy and strength to be had in activism, in joining with other people in a spirit of love and solidarity to work for a better world. In fact, writing in The Atlantic, Derek Thompson has described what America needs as an abundance agenda. I share a lengthy quote from his essay because I love it so much:

Manufactured scarcity isn’t just the story of COVID tests, or the pandemic, or the economy: It’s the story of America today. The revolution in communications technology has made it easier than ever for ordinary people to loudly identify the problems that they see in the world. But this age of bits-enabled protest has coincided with a slowdown in atoms-related progress.

Altogether, America has too much venting and not enough inventing. We say that we want to save the planet from climate change—but in practice, many Americans are basically dead set against the clean-energy revolution, with even liberal states shutting down zero-carbon nuclear plants and protesting solar-power projects. We say that housing is a human right—but our richest cities have made it excruciatingly difficult to build new houses, infrastructure, or megaprojects. Politicians say that they want better health care—but they tolerate a catastrophically slow-footed FDA‪ that withholds promising tools, and a federal policy that deliberately limits the supply of physicians.

Nothing gives me more hope and joy than doing: installing solar panels on my house and financing solar panels through Capital Good Fund; voting and helping to register others to vote; donating to good causes like Run for Something, which supports younger progressives as they run for office at the local, state, and federal level; writing poems and essays; calling my elected officials; installing an electric vehicle charging station at Capital Good Fund's office so that it is easier for people to own an EV. We know the solutions to our problems, be they related to democracy, the economy, or the climate. What we need now is to put our minds (Invent), our money (Invest), and hands (Implement) to work in the direction of our goals. I can think of no better way to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King than to bring joy to this effort--the Inventing, Investing in, and Implementation of a beautiful today and an ever-more hopeful tomorrow.

Below I share a poem in honor of MLK Day, 2022! Please forward this to your friends and ask them to sign up too.

- Andy

MLK Day, 2022

MLK Day, 2022
Every year the same poem, the same
lament, the same sickness. What if

things don’t get better, merely more
tolerable? What if we lay down our

lives and nothing grows over us—
neither monuments nor trees, neither

killing fields nor strawberry fields?
What if the best we do is leave behind

a legacy like a ballad we all hum
but don’t know the words to?

Today a heavy rain falls through sunshine.
In spite of it all, we look for the rainbow.

Monday, January 17, 2022
What actions will you take this week to honor Dr. King? I suggest donating to Run for Something and calling your Senators to demand that they vote to eliminate the filibuster.

- Andy