Some Things Are Bigger than Any of Us

One of the good things about everything being so fucked up—about the culture being so ubiquitously destructive—is that no matter where you look—no matter what your gifts, no matter where your heart lies—there’s good and desperately important work to be done.

— Derrick Jensen

In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law was passed and both Northerners and Southerners were now legally required to turn in runaway slaves. One year later, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin (or Life Among the Lowly) as a serial in an antislavery paper, The National Era. In 1852, the Boston publishing company Jewett published it as a book and, as they are wont to say, the rest is history.

Widely considered to be the first social protest novel published in the United States (and the first major novel to have a black hero), Uncle Tom’s Cabin sold more copies—with the exception of The Bible—than any book had ever sold in America until that point with sales reaching 300,000 copies in the first year.

Stowe’s graphic depiction of slave life—based on true stories—personalized the issue, reclaiming it from the sanitized domain of courtroom legalese. Her story outraged some and inspired many others. To her critics, she answered with A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1853 to provide documentation that every incident in her book had actually happened. Upon meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, Abraham Lincoln remarked: “So you’re the little woman that wrote the book that made this great war.”

There was a time when slavery was believed too deeply entrenched in American culture to ever be abolished. The movement to end this “peculiar institution” was made up of individuals willing to recognize that some things in life are bigger than any of us. Whether they literally risked their lives by rescuing slaves and running the Underground Railroad or they did their part by sewing clothes or blankets for escaped slaves or, yes, writing books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the movement needed every single one of these brave humans doing their part—small or large.

What seems impossible and irreversible today can be addressed if we’re willing to wake up and do the hard work. If we’re willing to stop making excuses for the reprehensible leaders (sic)—both political and corporate—who profit from our complacency.

So, the next time you’re deciding between watching a Will & Grace re-run or updating your Facebook book, step up instead. Take a good, long look into heart and an even longer look at the choices you make all day, every day—not from place of guilt and shame but with a sense of revelation. Accept the challenge to be better human being, a more responsible earthling. It takes courage to perform self-examination. It takes courage to accept everything you know just might be wrong. It takes far more courage to do this than to volunteer to wage illegal and immoral wars.

Let’s face it: Things sucked under George W. Bush. Things will suck under Barack Obama. Things have sucked under every president. Nothing will change until we change our minds. We can’t be as indifferent as those before us. They didn’t think enough about future generations so now we have to work twice as hard. It sucks, I know, but this not an issue of fairness. It’s about survival.

Some things in life are bigger than any of us. The anti-slavery movement recognized this. Today, the entire planet is enslaved…to profit-seeking corporations and the corrupt politicians they own (yes, including the Pope of Hope). Are this generation’s abolitionists ready to step up and create change? Not ask for change, create change.

Why not embrace your outrage and frustration and let it challenge you, inspire you, and motivate you? Instead of channeling your ambitions toward climbing a mountain, running a marathon, or striving to make your first million before you’re 30, what greater goal could any of us ever aim for than to leave the planet much better off than how we found it?

You have nothing to lose but your chains…

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Dogwood said on November 17th, 2008 at 8:30am #

    Thank you Mickey,

    For any who don’t yet know about it, to do EXACTLY what Mickey is talking about – go to – and join

  2. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 17th, 2008 at 8:36am #

    it may be noticed that the ruling class accedes to any change only after it realizes the change will benefit more rich people than poor people.
    eg, elemenatary schooling. it benefits payers more than payees.
    a more miseducated child of a working person, that much better for rich person’s child.
    a rich person’s child will have much greater chance of attending universities where it can further hone its ‘skills’ of lying/cheating/deceiving/misleading. thnx

  3. Don Hawkins said on November 17th, 2008 at 9:41am #

    The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the rigidity of the system of ideological control – “indoctrination,” we might say – exercised through the mass media. Noam Chomsky

    What Noam wrote there is a big part of the fight. It is starting to fall apart somewhat. Much easier to see it for what it is. The time is now I don’t think we will get a second chance nature of the beast so to speak. Those last few words Mickey will happen hopefully before it’s to late. Good stuff.

  4. rosemarie jackowski said on November 17th, 2008 at 12:15pm #

    Thanks for another good one, Mickey. From my vantage point, we are nowhere close to throwing off the chains. The mass of the population is still blaming the little guy who has been the victim of exploitation.

    The US rates 29th in infant mortality. 18,000 die each year from lack of access to health care. The psyche of the US is totally devoid of empathy. It is an ‘Up-the-drawbridge’ culture – every man for himself. The Congress is in collusion with the corporations and still the voters continue to elect dem/repubs.

    I predict that things will continue to get worse. While most attention was being absorbed by the 700+ bailout – beneath the radar, the credit card companies have been increasing interest rates, even on consumers who have paid on time. There are reports that some companies are increasing rates retroactively. Theoretically it is possible to buy a pair of socks on a credit card, pay on time, and ultimately have your house taken by the credit card company. I admit, there is a bit of hyperbole there, but think about it. The Congress has given ultimate power to credit card companies, cable companies, insurance companies, and a long list of other crooks.

    The bottom line is this – corporations are usually operating within the law. The real villain is the Congress.

  5. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 17th, 2008 at 1:01pm #

    in my post above i forgot to say the following:
    to run/manage any evil empire, it must raise evil people to run it.
    actually, we might even say that there is no evil countries,empires, planets; there is only manufactured evil people.
    and the people who have been conditioned to act in a cruel way by previous wicked people, teach the next generations of people to behave in a bestial way.
    and the cicle had not ended yet. will it ever? thnx

  6. Deadbeat said on November 17th, 2008 at 2:22pm #

    Rosemarie Jackowski writes…

    I predict that things will continue to get worse. While most attention was being absorbed by the 700+ bailout – beneath the radar, the credit card companies have been increasing interest rates, even on consumers who have paid on time. There are reports that some companies are increasing rates retroactively. Theoretically it is possible to buy a pair of socks on a credit card, pay on time, and ultimately have your house taken by the credit card company. I admit, there is a bit of hyperbole there, but think about it. The Congress has given ultimate power to credit card companies, cable companies, insurance companies, and a long list of other crooks.

    What Rosemarie writes is NOT hyperbole. Recently it was reported that the credit cards companies (banks) was taking people homes in England for as little as missing a single credit card payment.

    What makes this economic situation worst IMO than the 1930 is that amount of debt that ordinary citizens have. Despite Keynesian solutions being bandied about, Keynesian solutions will do nothing to relieve citizens of their debt burdens. In fact the way the government will administer Keynesian programs will be to privatize them. In other words pay some private company whereby the management gets their off the top and pay the workers the scraps.

    Debt burdens, in addition, atomizes citizens and further allows the courts to atomizes citizens further. Means testing Chapter 7 in favor of Chapter 11 is also a way to continue debt burdens upon workers as well as the notorious child support (parental pecuniary) which is a coerced and enforced monetary burden that atomizes workers.

    This is why a radical shifting of corporate power and family disputes out of the court system is needed. Courts, IMO, atomizes, diffuses and defuses, collective action. How will Americans get out of “under” and display their power? Perhaps a collective DEFAULT may be one solution.

  7. Deadbeat said on November 17th, 2008 at 2:54pm #

    Also I would like to add that working folks filing taxes to the IRS also atomizes the population as well. Nader tax proposal to have a transaction sales tax on stock transfers and eliminate everyone making less than 100K would eliminate the needs for the vast majority of working from having to file a tax form with the IRS. It would extremely simplify the lives of most people.

  8. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 17th, 2008 at 5:07pm #

    the truth is: there isn’t any truth. there r as always words, facts, conclusions, actions, but no truth, fairness.
    there is no right or wrong in nature. people born w. 4 fingers on one hand, long noses, one leg shorter, etc., are not mistakes.
    it’s our disability to call people dumb, tall, short, smart; the nature cld care less what we humans say.
    does this mean that we, being part of nature and thus also ‘evil’ as nature can be, that we can’t do more good stuff and less of shit?
    beats me.
    but i’m not commiting suicide; at least not today. thnx

  9. Don Hawkins said on November 18th, 2008 at 6:28am #

    Either you repeat the same conventional doctrines everybody is saying, or else you say something true, and it will sound like it’s from Neptune.

    All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
    Noam Chomsky

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” 1984

    Now who the heck is this big brother person? Is it government is it business is it people with money and power is it just the average person who goes along with the conventional doctrines everybody is saying? It sure seems so. Is ignorance strength of course it is that is not to hard to figure out. Most of the commercials you see on TV are they made to make people feel helpless and want to consume well yes. The people who make the commercials and the business people who tell them to make the commercials do they know this, yes. Now here’s the big one that thinking is it just for the average Joe or Jane? Yes that is the thinking but the very people who think this stuff up without really knowing it are under the same constant pressure and in most way’s even more than the average person. How about a new way of thinking. May the force be with you. I want it I’ll buy it, no that is not the force. He loved Big Brother is that the force, no. To leave the planet much better off than how we found it, we are getting warmer. Send us your unwanted gold we will sent you money the very next day, no.

  10. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 18th, 2008 at 9:08am #

    don, yes
    thruout the ages, clericocratic class had taught people, both explicitly and tacitly, that people r lazy, stupid, unruly, sinful; that they need forgiveness, god(s) in their life or else; in short, people r not OK.
    but i affirm once again we are what nature made us and nature doesn’t make junk as clerico-political class of life assiduously teaches.
    and we ‘learn’ (beware of the term) best when we do not know we r ‘learning’
    i mean to say, we ‘learn’ best when dogmas are pushed on us tacitly or by what hadn’t be said.
    such as we are ok. d
    damn the priests and other miseducators/disinformers. thnx

  11. AaronG said on November 19th, 2008 at 12:36am #

    Nice article to read, but what action is being recommended here? To quickly illustrate what we’re up against, consider this:

    For the past 6 months (not including primaries etc) a massive Club was mobilised that included politicians, media, focus groups, advertising agents, internet fund raising etc. The purpose of this highly skilled and organised Club was to try to convince the american population to put a cross next to one of two individuals who wanted to be president. The trick was to polarise the two combatants whilst never stating the truth that, if elected, both men would be in charge of a murderous administration. This propoganda was so powerful that, from my vantage point in Australia, we had TV programs make live crosses to victory parties where thousands of sheeple were emotional and in tears that their man had won the ”contest”. I thought for a second that the TV had crossed to the Superbowl or basketball finals or a rock concert or some religious gathering.

    How powerful is this Club if it could produce this mass hysteria in the sheeple? How naïve are we to think that we can challenge this behemoth? Especially since they are one and we are fractured. If I wanted to be directed to an organisation that wanted to overthrow the whole world system that is the Club, I would be directed to thousands of websites, (maybe including this one), some serious and dedicated, some a bit spooky. If I wanted to join the Club I wouldn’t be directed to or or even All I simply need to do is have my mother give birth to me. Once that simple step is taken I am part of society. Part of the Club. I am now a consuming, fossil-fuel guzzling, voting, money-making, subservient part of the Club. The boys at the top, the ones with the Gold Membership, may never speak to me. Even if they did, they will never thank me for my input. Because they need my input. They need my mortgage to gamble around the world with. They need my bank deposits. They need me to get an economics degree but never to learn about where money comes from. They need my xmas spending and every other fake religious holiday deliberately spaced regularly apart on the calendar. They need my subservience.

    What they don’t need is for me to question – how many times have we used the question ”WHY?”’ since we were 6 years old. Remember when we stopped using it? So far the powerful are winning. The sheeple far outweigh the drones who put a cross next to the president’s (and the other guy’s) name.

    Don’t bombard me for being a cynic. I’m a realist. I don’t mind the sound of the dissident music you’re playing while the Titanic sinks around me – it’s nice and easy listening. However, I need action, and so does the earth’s ecosystems. The music is only faint background music and the elites know you don’t have power on your side. They’re willing to tolerate your music, as long as it doesn’t get much louder, cos you’re the overwhelming minority. They know that with every new subscriber to your music, there are thousands more who just joined the Club. While we celebrate what we think are minor victories with one step forward (”end” of slavery, ”end” of apartheid) the powerful take 10 steps back before the party has even been cleared away. ”People Power” is just a worn out slogan for the powerless, but at least it makes us feel warm inside.

    Change has not, will not and cannot come from below. It will, however, come from Above. Things are nearly in place…………….