Carl Mumpower’s “The Same Old Solutions Won’t Solve Asheville’s Problems” [Feb. 22, Xpress] reflects an important truth. Don’t keep on doing the same old thing you have inherited from my generation. I give Mr. Mumpower credit for participating in the democratic discussion. But it falls short. Our local leaders are promoting the same old ineffectual solutions of accelerating economic growth for the rich, comfortable and politically powerful.
Mr. Mumpower referred to “our community’s relentless hand-wringing over homelessness, Black student performance gaps, affordable housing and minority hirings on our police force.” Well, I applaud those who are upset and hope more of us take the next step and actively participate in our democracy.
There is much in America that is broken and needs to be fixed. But, in critiquing what isn’t working, don’t forget what is working and what is right locally and in our country. To begin, we can acknowledge the accomplishments of the past and be inspired to grow and expand what is best about humanity.
We have a “self-correcting” Constitution; not perfect, but it allows us to learn what’s wrong and correct it. We have done this 27 times. Major examples: abolishing slavery, women’s suffrage, along with free speech enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
President George Washington called people to “observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony … always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.” Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and third president, added, “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliance with none.”
The founding power of America stated that all human beings are created equal and government would derive its power from the consent of the governed rather than royal or economic status. Over the years, the ideals of freedom, equality, justice and free speech shifted gradually to today’s quest for supremacy through military and economic action. That’s called “empire.”
Our political leaders in Asheville and Buncombe County support this as long as they play by the 20th-century economic so-called “free market.” For example, when we become dependent on the military-industrial complex like Raytheon, the gap between those who hold central power and locals seeking to make a living grows wider.
The roots of affordable housing, homelessness and increasing crime are creations of a growth-centered economic development vision. People are treated as mere means to development rather than communities to meet their own needs in responsible, sustainable ways.
A challenge to local leaders: Google “people-centered development,” an approach that focuses on improving local communities’ self-reliance, social justice and participatory decision-making. It recognizes that economic growth does not inherently contribute to human development and calls for changes in social, political and environmental values and practices. Read When Corporations Rule the World by David Korten.
A challenge to “we the people”: Resist our media and political propaganda that serve the rich and powerful. Please recognize that a democracy demands informed people that address spiritual values. Check YouTube: David Korten on Replacing the Suicide Economy.
Without a groundswell of activity by we the people, I am pessimistic. Why are our churches so quiet about our dysfunctional politics and the military-industrial complex? However, when I come in contact with generous, courageous local people of all beliefs participating, studying the issues, supporting the homeless, working for peace, seeking justice and inviting people to create a more caring society, it gives me hope.
We do not stand alone. Global demonstrations come from every country, every race, every religion and every ethnic group. The political spectrum includes millions who are planting seeds of change that resist the power of Big Corporations and Big Government that serve the rich and powerful.
— Ed Sacco