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Don’t ‘give the devil more than his due’

I’m writing on a cold and rainy winter morning in Washington. It’s pretty miserable outside. Far different from Northern California where I lived before coming to DC.

The political climate doesn’t seem much different – at least from the point of view of those of us who fight for working people and public transit.  All we hear is “gloom and doom.”

Yes, it’s important to see things clearly.  It doesn’t help to pretend that things are better than they really are.


They’re not invincible

But, it also doesn’t help to think things are worse than they really are; that the Koch brothers, the TEA party, and their anti-labor friends in American and Canadian legislatures are all but invincible – because they’re not.

You hear people say that union members don’t get involved in political action because they are comfortable and apathetic. But, I think a lot of people stay home because they think that little can be done about the injustice we’re fighting.


A lot more of us than there is of them

I’m reminded of an old expression: “Don’t give the devil more than his due.”

By that, I don’t mean that those who oppose us are “devils.”  What I mean to say is, yeah, things are tough right now, but, even so, our opponents are not all-powerful, 10-foot-tall giants whose ideas can never be defeated.

Nope, they’re just people who have a lot of power because they have a lot of money.  But there are a lot more of us than there are of them, and, believe me, no force can beat us if we are united and politically active – in other words, if we have “solidarity.”

There are many examples in history of leaders who accomplished great things because they refused to believe that nothing could be done about the injustice they experienced in their lifetimes. Leaders like Mother Jones, Tommy Douglas, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fought on when others said their missions were pure folly, or, even worse – dangerous.


A reason to hope

They attracted thousands to their cause because they gave people hope.  By lifting people up, they gave them a reason to get involved.  We’d do well to follow their example.

So the next time you hear a news report on the inevitability of bad things happening to workers or public transit – don’t believe it.

We have the power to stop bad things from happening, and to accomplish a lot of good.  But, we have to begin exercising that power while it’s still winter.

Remember, no matter how cold, dark and miserable it gets – spring is just around the corner.  And spring, particularly here in Washington, is really beautiful.

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