I don’t recall just exactly who was first to use this phrase, but I have heard it quoted often enough. My generation has always sought to transfer power from those who abuse it and ideally empower the average person. Even though our generation has now come to power, many of us find our hopes and dreams have become somewhat less than what we expected back thirty or forty years ago. Oddly enough, rather than lamenting the fact that the world has not changed all that much, rather than protesting or joining some political activist group, some of us have begun to realize true power. It has been in the hands of the people all along.
The greatest power does not come from elected officials. The greatest power does not come from our right to vote. While getting the right people in powerful positions and making well informed decisions at the voting booth is a huge help, we have to face the fact that significant change is slow to come through the political system. Revolution is not the answer either. History has shown that the new regime is likely to become just as corrupt as the former regime that was overthrown.
The common denominator that gets people elected, fights wars, revolutions, and shapes popular opinion is wealth. Wealth comes from natural resources, real estate, agriculture, and/or the creation of goods and services. However, in order for wealth to exist, there must be a consumer. Without the end user or consumer, land, resources, and all goods and services have no cumulative value. Unless someone somewhere is willing to buy a gallon of gasoline then oil is merely a greasy substance. Unless someone is willing to donate to a political party, church, or non-profit organizations then spreading the word and gaining new converts just doesn’t get done very easily.
Once the consumer realizes his/her importance regarding wealth and the people who wield the power that comes from it, then he/she no longer has to feel inadequate, helpless, or lacking a course of action. Without the individual consumer, the whole process comes to a grinding halt. The power of purchase can create positive change much faster than conventional politics. Simply changing our buying habits can have a profound effect, if enough of us choose to do so. History has proven this time and time again.
If you don’t care for fast food franchises, Megamarts, the price of gasoline, or whatever, then don’t buy those products. Encourage your friends and neighbors to do likewise. Seek alternatives. Walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation. Shop at locally owned businesses. Discover your farmers markets. I f there are none in your area then start one up. Want a really good steak, pizza, or perhaps a fried pie? Go to the folks who make them from scratch. Every time you spend a dollar you have cast a vote for something and against corresponding alternatives.
Think about it. Most of us have been witness to big franchises moving in to small towns and driving small business out. We can actually reverse this by not patronizing those businesses. It takes a lot of money to keep these big stores open. Do you miss that fresh coffee down at the local diner? How about the guy who could take an old pair of shoes and fix them? Not to mention the baker, local mechanic, or the lady who made dresses that fit perfectly. We can get them back. Vote for them by refusing to purchase inferior products and/or lousy service.
Right now Nila and I are drinking fresh whole milk, eating fresh organic vegetables, and getting started on locally raised range fed beef. All of this is being delivered to us direct from the farmer or rancher that produces these products. It has been a rare occurrence for either of us to catch a cold, the flu, or other communicable disease even though we meet the public on a daily basis. In fact, our attendance records prove that we are obviously healthier than the typical young folks who work for us. This is no accident. Healthy diet, exercise, and consistent sleeping habits make a big difference. My only complaint has been that we did not have access to these healthy foods sooner. This local market was created by consumer demand in our area. Without a doubt.
Fed up with things in Washington D.C.? Send a message to Washington. It is not only unfair but downright un-American that our news media chooses to follow only Democrat and Republican campaigns. Why? Campaign contributions buy advertisements. Big business buys advertisement. This money insures that those candidates will get coverage on local and national news segments. Tired of the countless lobbies that continue to corrupt our Congressmen and Senators? Stop buying the products or services those lobbies represent. Without big profits, lobbyists cannot operate.
How about those ridiculous interest rates charged by credit card companies? Credit cards are convenient but are not as safe to use as the companies would have us believe. Truth is, we are not obligated to use credit cards at all. If the majority of us stop or even limit the use of credit then things will change in a hurry. Same story applies to banks, insurance companies, and investment firms. There is an enormous amount of money being made by companies doing nothing more than electronic transactions. All in the name of making it more convenient for consumers to do what we do best …………buy more stuff.
In a nutshell, you and I are the final decision makers. We decide what we will purchase and what we are willing to invest in or donate money to. If you like something, then support it with your investment. Conversely, if you would like to change things then use your power to boycott. Never feel that you have no choice. Your purchasing power has helped make this economy and that same power inevitably will change it for better or for worse.
Make your commitment to change things for the better. Whether your interest is in clean energy, education, or better health care, the process of change is in your hands. Pay attention to what you buy. Invest in what you believe in. Go out of your way to find and encourage locally owned businesses. Start one of your own. Support non-profit organizations that encourage sustainability. Get active among your friends, neighbors, community, state, and nationally by networking with like-minded groups and individuals. Be aware that every dollar you spend does make a difference………..one way or the other. We have the power…….Use it.