Dorothy Day Caucus of the American Solidarity Party A Revolution of the Heart
By Amar Patel
Since the beginning of humanity men and women have had to work. Our earliest ancestors hunted and gathered to survive. Scientists speculate the reason you want an afternoon nap so badly is because for far longer than farming has been a way of life, people would work all morning to obtain food after which they would feast around noon. They would follow this meal with a long nap. After the nap they would eat the remaining food and prepare to sleep for the night. Without refrigeration or cupboards they could store little foodstuffs for any length of time. This continued for many generations, imprinting the behavior into our DNA through natural selection.
Then came farming and domestication of animals. Along with consistent food sources we found ways to store grains which would ensure food through difficult crop seasons. This didn’t lessen the amount of work people did. It only changed it.
As society progressed and specialization began, other occupations sprouted up. Towns became cities and massive farms produced enormous amounts of food so that few people needed to work their own land and had non-agrarian jobs. It seems to me that the purpose of a job seems to be to do it long enough so you don’t have to do it anymore. Then you can rest and relax.
The thing about rest is you have to work first. Technology is driving society to a point where many people will not be able to find work and/or we just won’t need them to do it. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but I can conceive of a time where automation will relieve the necessity of labor. What then? Can we rest and relax all the time?
I think we need to address this future now. We need to educate people about S and S, solidarity and subsidiarity. Solidarity is the idea that we should act to benefit our common goals and interests. Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Currently our daily lives revolve around work that occupies most of our time and attention. We make money to support our families, obtain choice for entertainment, etc., but the main goal is to eventually retire and not work. What if the goal of work could be to create a better world around us? What if we could collectively agree that by improving our local community we would have a greater comfort than we could enjoy in our insulated bubble?
Unfortunately, I don’t think this could happen organically. Culture acts in exact opposition to both solidarity and subsidiarity. Despite technology allowing for greater connection between neighbors we end up with less. Look at the popularity of Netflix and similar binge streaming channels. I am guilty, like most, of entering a cave of entertainment on many nights where one show turns into four and I get to bedtime having accomplished nothing. My own children have built connections with their devices that rival relationships with peers. The world steps more into isolation while we all hunger for connection.
What are S.M.A.R.T. goals the American Solidarity Party could have with respect to these issues? They need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Limited. I propose that we should stick to the most centrist of issues and focus on local resource structuring. Three specific goals I would put forward are supporting of pregnant women through their delivery and for a transition time after birth, coordinating the efforts of local food banks and shelter to reduce hunger and homelessness, and provide after school support for poor children to improve educational prospects. We should be able to measure how many people are helped, how many people are contributing, and what cost it takes for the action to be implemented. The documentation of these results should be shared in order to promote similar action in other locales. None of these goals require massive capital outlay. They require volunteerism and the passion of hopefully a growing number of individuals who want to make a difference in their communities. The difference made would be relevant as it would target the neediest and most vulnerable of our neighbors. There should be hard targets set for how long programs have to take root. It would be acceptable to reassess timelines if agreement exists that original plans were too optimistic but dates should be set for goals to be completed.
If we could focus on these issues and make connections we could create the voice for solidarity by utilizing our communities to show subsidiarity in action. Make a difference in the neighborhood under the flag of ASP to really show others what we are about.
Tara Ann Thieke