Dissidents and critics of the powers that be are often accused of being negative – tearing things down, undermining, never offering a positive alternative vision. Now, I happen to disagree with this. I believe that people who work in waste management – clearing away the garbage, the poisons, the crap – are just as important to the life and health of a community as, say, an architect who makes the community beautiful, or a teacher who educates the young, or doctors who heal the sick and so on.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up