Second Vermont Republic

A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.

Be Ordinary by Nichole Hastings


I was recently able to speak with Bernie Sanders in a small venue and to hear my fellow community members voice their comments and concerns.  I asked Bernie the question : “How can we support change and address the challenges we are facing as a nation?”. I appreciated his response, “Be extraordinary.”, but that is a rather meaningless response and an inaccessible concept to the majority of people in this country who are working minimum wage with kids, a spouse, and living paycheck-to-paycheck trying to meet their basic needs.  I have friends who fall into this socio-economic sphere and they would understandably be angry and uncomprehending and feel as though I was being condescending if I were to tell them that solution to our problems is for them to “Be extraordinary.”

One of my fellow community members brought up education as a solution.  This is an admirable and key solution in elevating the collective consciousness of the human race.  But again, real solutions are needed in order to make this happen.  How does the regular person make sure their children are receiving an “extraordinary” education when their small and ordinary town is too poor to pay for “extraordinary” teachers, facilities and resources?

In posing my question about what to do, I had hoped Bernie would elaborate more and offer real systemic solutions rather than focusing on our problems.  Maybe he’s already thinking about this and how he can reach out to those struggling to meet their basic needs and offering real solutions that will inspire them.  I suggest that if Bernie intends to run for president and  effect real change, he should be prepared to present better answers that offer realistic solutions rather than lofty rhetoric.

Perhaps by going to places where people live the poorest economic lives and have the most disillusioned mindsets and speaking to them in plain simple words would be effective?  So many people feel that understanding politics and the issues that are shaping their lives are beyond them, that they are powerless and lack the capability to understand politics and take action.  These are my suggestions regarding Bernie’s poor answer to my question.

When Bernie said, “Be extraordinary.”, I personally get it.  I already shop small and locally so I know where all my money is going.  I am a member of a community car share cooperative.  I reduce and reuse because recycling still leaves a significant carbon footprint.  I allocate a third of my calendar year to volunteering and advocating for the preservation of nature and our wild spaces.  I speak with my friends, neighbors and community members about political issues almost every day.  I am not the “norm” amongst my friends and colleagues in their mid-30s.

I say, “Be ordinary.” and understand that most people just want to lead an ordinary and regular life.  This is where most people always will be with their normal, everyday, working-class minimum-wage paycheck-to-paycheck lives.  If we would like to change what most people see as “ordinary” in living their lives, then we must agree on and enact realistic solutions that will facilitate this.   It is folly to try to access them and relate to them by answering an often-posed question of “What to do..?” by simply saying “Be extraordinary.” in response.

Nichole Hastings lives and works in Norwich VT.  She recently published a book of poems and photography titled A Remedy For Love.  Nichole does volunteer work for the Dartmouth Outing Club, Green Mountain Club and Appalachian Trail Conservancy and is the president of a community car cooperative.

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2014 by in culture, Education, environment, Politics.

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