“There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free.” Walter Cronkite
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” Jim Morrison
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” Abraham Lincoln
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” John F. Kennedy
“The secret to happiness is freedom and the secret to freedom is courage.” Thucydides
“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” Mark Twain
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Plato
“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” Aesop
“We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.” Stewart Udall
“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” Thomas Paine
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Albert Einstein
“Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.” Dalai Lama
“It is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read.” Thomas Jefferson
“Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the earth.” Voltaire
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Peace begins with a smile.” Mother Teresa
“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.” George Washington
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” Plutarch
“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” Winston Churchill
“Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.” Confucius
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
Allow me to assert my credentials as an Englishman: there is no tea without water. It has always been thus, since the Earl of Grey accidentally dropped the rind of his bergamot orange into a cup of hot water he was sipping (I’ve no idea…don’t bother the Wiki Goddess).
Though it is the silly season of Republican debates and strange voting habits of the primaries (Ohio – yes I’m talking about you), there emerges a call for sanity, not to balance the Tea Party and Occupy Movement, but to create a framework that might actually work.
And so, with much aplomb, I wish to introduce The Water Party (here on Facebook if this is your preferred medium). Percentages seem to be the defining element these days, so the Water Party claim to represent the 70%, slightly less ambitious than Occupy (99%) or Tea Party (103%). This is not based upon some empirical equation, rather inspired by Mother Nature herself.
“70% of the earth is covered by water, but you don’t think of it, because the land is right in front of you most of the time. Likewise, 70% of Americans favor accuracy, fairness, civility and helping others, but it doesn’t seem that way with angry opinionated people dominating the news and airwaves spouting falsehoods to further their agendas and vendettas. The Water Party represents the 70% of Americans from all political spectrums who are the true majority in America. It’s time for us to stand up and be counted.”
What I like about The Water Party is that they welcome people of any political persuasion, from any party, as long as there is a commitment to “support truth and accuracy, reasonableness, kindness and sanity.”
Friends – this is a political landscape game changer right here. Close your eyes and try to imagine a Republican Presidential debate based on these principles. Admit it, you would be forced to channel surf to try and find those insipid, hate ads that the candidates are absolutely not putting out there against each other.
Back to The Water Party and I want to focus on their three principles. The first suggests that we all commit to being truthful in our political debates – I can go for that. The third suggests that we emulate the founding fathers – I am really not sure about this but maybe I’ve been reading the wrong books and articles about them.
But the second principle really got my attention because it has very concrete actions that can impact the world.
“Justice: Nobody should have to “try to live” on less than $1 a day, as one billion people are. 8 million children a year (one every 4 seconds) should not die from lack of food and clean water. I will take less so children can have the basics to live. One option is the water pledge to drink more water, and less alchohol, coffee and soda, and give some or all the money to the poorest. If 100,000 people drink $5 less a month, that will create $6.7 million a year that will save tens of thousands of lives. We’ll also live longer, and save time and money not having to work out and diet as much.”
If you click on the water pledge you get to a page where you can actually translate the pledge into an individualized and measurable commitment.
Joking aside, I love the concept that the Water Party represents, that we could actually sit people from all political directions for a nice cup of te–water, and work on a way together to fix what ails this country. It would require a commitment to rational debate, to listening to the other side and being willing to compromise.
Perhaps we might even be surprised and discover that behind all the slogans we shout at each other, there just might be more consensus than we care to admit. Maybe the 70% can make a difference.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).