In 1999, Dee Hock, founder of Visa, quipped, “It’s far too late and things are far too bad for pessimism.” But 18 years later, pessimism can feel like the new realism.
After all, just three Americans control more wealth than the bottom half of us. In last year’s election, less than 1 percent of Americans provided most of the $6.4 billion in campaign spending, worsening an imbalance in political influence that’s long been with us. Even in the 1980s and 90s average Americans, according to a data-deep study, exerted “near zero” influence in Washington.
In fending off despair and effectively taking on democracy’s degradation, one insight has helped us a lot: that it’s not the magnitude of a challenge that crushes the human spirit; rather, it’s a sense of futility that does us in. Homo sapiens evolved, after all, as doers and problem solvers.
Read the full adaptation from “Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want” by Frances Moore Lappé and Adam Eichen (Beacon Press, 2017): We have what it takes to meet the crisis of our democracy | Waging Nonviolence