It was a mild night, sometime in late January 2009. I felt like starting a new cross stitch project I’d been planning for a little while. It was the night Barack Obama was to formally become President of the United States of America. It seemed appropriate to stay up late and watch.
For the previous few years, vast tracts of the worlds population had been observing international and domestic policy changes in the US with great dispair. It seemed the world was on a collision course with an almighty apocalypse, and the worlds richest and most powerful nation was leading the way with all guns a-blazin.
But then along came this intelligent, articulate and extremely witty man with a dream and a vision for a peaceful, prosperous and egalitarian future. The world sat up and took notice. The people of America heard the dream, saw the vision and believed it with a deep love that only people with a strong understanding of the foundation of their nation and the dreams of their forebears can feel.
So I sat there on my couch watching the spectacle unfurl. It was hard not to feel cynical. I have always had a passionate interest in electoral systems and electoral reform and have a pretty decent knowledge of the corruption of democracy – particularly by lobbyists – within the US system. But as I began this stitch and watched the joy on the faces of the people on the screen in front of me, I started to think that maybe he might have the power to turn the great ship around. After all, there are plenty of examples of countries that have transformed themselves with a new leader with a strong vision and a determination to get things done.
Four years on, it does sadly seem my hopes were misplaced and my cynicism was more apt. When Obama started hiring former Goldman Sachs staff you couldn’t help but feel it was all over. Granted, he’s made some bold moves and was most probably the reason America didn’t completely implode through their recession. But it’s been far from the Change We Can Believe In.
But the problem doesn’t lie with Obama, or even America. The problem lies with a system that takes decision making power away from those who are affected by the decisions. On a local level, I live in a pretty disempowered community. And more often than not, I hear locals discussing issues in relation to how to get the government to fix them, not how the community itself can take ownership of its own issues and find its own solutions. This makes me pretty sad. I don’t want to live in a world of complainers, I want to live in a world of doers!
Drawing on anarchist traditions of rejecting hierarchical power structures, the Apron for our Children seeks to inform and remind older and younger generations of men and women, boys and girls of the institutions that seek to hold us captive. This apron was created as a love letter to my children, urging them to be aware of their past, and seek freedom for their future.