I have a confessions to make... I'm a problem thinker. I get ideas in my head and they just stay there... mulling. I usually try to keep these ponderings to myself, but this one just keeps jumping out of my mouth and getting me in trouble, so I guess it's time to do something about it. That said, I have decided to pursue the idea of a grassroots political action information portal (that's "line of communication" for those less geeky among us) which I call Lamplighters (of both the Biblical and Paul Revere-ian kind).
Concerning America and that which makes her great... we are a "government of the people, BY THE PEOPLE, and for the people." Right? But what does that mean... really? Not everyone is called to run for office -- there aren't that many offices. Not everyone can stay current on every event -- that's why it's a democratic republic instead of a democracy (we elect and pay representatives who can dedicate the necessary time and resources). Everyone can vote, but not every issue comes up for a vote. We have jobs... families... lives... We have inherited a great gift and we want to spend our days living in the freedom guaranteed to us by our Constitution, not trying to rebirth it everyday. But then... "freedom isn't free" and "all that it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing," so with this great gift comes great responsibility. I love this nation. I love what it stands for. I love its idealism. I love it so much that the passion in my chest burns a hole in my gut. "Rage -- RAGE -- against the dying of the light." And yet... what can one person do? This is the paradox.
And so I have pondered this question: What specifically can one person do that will actually make a difference? And as often happens when one ponders, I have a few ideas. There are many small actions that added up over time make a big difference: we can sign petitions, write letters, send faxes, make phone calls, send emails, plant seeds for others to ponder over the back fence or at dinner with friends, forward information that we find useful to those we think might appreciate it, and generally weave these activities into our everyday lives with just a minute here and a minute there. It doesn't take long to light just one lamp... assuming, that is, that you have a torch.
But carrying a torch with you everywhere you go can be quite a burden. It requires great care so as not to consume all that is around it. It's hard to work with only one hand. We need a torch bearer. A person who keeps the fire ready and safe where we can find it easily and reach it when we need it. And so is born the idea of Lamplighters...
Writing a letter takes time, but editing a form letter, not so much. Figuring out where to send it can be time consuming, but what if the name and address information were just a click away from someplace we hang out regularly anyway and could be inserted in seconds. We want the facts and we want them quickly, but digging for information and knowing which sources to trust takes time and relationship, networks help. We would gladly take the short moment it requires to sign a petition if we could find one that expresses our opinion accurately. We know what we want to say, but we need the tools to say it... to the right people, at the right time, quickly and accurately. Lamplighters is about carrying the torch so that each day, each time it is convenient, each time the moment arises, each of us has the ability to light just one more lamp... and then go back to the business of being Americans, knowing that the light will not go out.