The ancient Library of Alexandria is said to have been intentionally destroyed, set ablaze by those who felt the knowledge and wisdom held within were too much of a risk to their own interests to keep around. There is no way to know what we, our collective humanity, lost in that destruction. There is no way to know how advanced we would be today had we benefitted from that knowledge and wisdom, instead of having to relearn what was once already known. Even worse, there is no way to know how our development was stunted by the replacement of that knowledge and wisdom by dubious substitutes.
Two thousand years later, in the year 2017, there is a gut-level nervousness affecting the people of the United States that I believe comes from a fear of similar loss. A faction of people, driven by nothing but selfish motivation, a lack of faith in human achievement and the support of a disillusioned popular minority, now sit in the most powerful positions in human history. Their deeds and plans trend toward the destruction of an incredibly significant amount of American achievement, making that nervousness more than justifiable.
In the months and years to come, if these people have their way, entire government agencies will be gutted. Individuals and entities, the robber barons of the twenty-first century, will concentrate power, wealth and resources in places from which they will probably never be redistributed. The protections of the Supreme Court will likely be tilted away from politically unconnected human beings for generations. And most tragic of all, faith in the institutions that make up our government of, by and for the people will be reduced to near unrecoverable levels.
We will fight. We will resist. And there will be some things we can save. Other things we will have to just watch as they burn, feeling powerless, mourning progress lost. But while we watch, there is something we can do: plan our rebuild.
To do this, we need to keep an unburnable public record of those things – policies, legislation, budget priorities, global relationships, or even just the customs of civil discourse – that are being undone and taken from us. We need to establish a virtual archive of the things we stand for, from the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the structure of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, to the retention of career diplomatic staff in the State Department, to the assurances of the Affordable Care Act, and so on and so on.
As a start, we can use the power of social media to keep track of these ideas by name until the momentum of effort can result in a more shepherded approach. I offer up the following hashtags to get the conversation started:
Now is our time to fight. There will be losses, and we have to accept them as part of the process. But when the tide has turned, we can’t just stand there and weep at everything we’ve lost. We have to remember what we’ve been fighting for, and start working to get it back.