The Monster at the Door
By Doris "Granny D" Haddock
Speech given June, 2001,
prior to 9-11
Born in 1910, I lived
through 90 years of the previous century, with its two world wars and uncounted smaller conflicts, massacres, tortures and
Over one hundred million
people died in those years due to the abuses of power that arose when governments became disconnected from the basic human
values of their people.
Our imaginations are
not dark enough or twisted enough to fully comprehend the mass horrors that have been perpetrated upon the people of the world
--men, women and little children. If we knew it all --remembered it all-- we could not draw another happy breath.
we are more blessed. We have come to expect that our neighbors will not be rounded up en masse and shot. We have come to expect
that we will not ourselves be dragged out of bed and sent away or slain by agents of our government --though these things
do happen, even here. While we may distrust an election or a party, we have --most of us-- not lost faith in the good intentions
of our democracy.
We look around the world.
We understand that it is the absolute power --the force-- of institutions that allows atrocities, for force is the opposite
of sensitivity and accommodation. Force is a monster, a man-eating, woman-eating, child-eating beast that we keep in check
but never really kill. In America, our
dear Constitution is the amulet we wear to preserve ourselves from its teeth.
Our Constitution gives
us our democratic republic, which has as its intention the fragmentation of power, keeping the exercise of force as close
as possible to the human scale, and letting its power accumulate only where absolutely necessary for the common good of the
people. The parchment document of the Constitution is not enough --we also require supportive institutions and sacred processes;
we need these five things:
1. We need fair and accurate
voting systems that we can trust beyond a shadow of doubt;
2. We need worthy candidates
who represent our interests and values and who are free from entangling financial obligations to special interests;
3) We need a free press
that takes as a sacred trust its duty to inform the citizenry on the great and small issues of the day, regardless of the
popular appeal of those stories and regardless of the profitability of providing that coverage;
4) We must be an unhurried
society, with each of us given the time and resources to be active citizens, not mere mice on corporate treadmills;
5) We must be an educated
people, forever students of the vital issues before us, and also of the history, art and literature that shapes our human
sensibilities and our civic and cultural values so that, as a self-governing people, we might govern ourselves well. Our schools
must produce citizens. Our immigrant arrivals must be made into citizens, as well.
In many of these five
areas, we are now in trouble. The stakes are very high, for the monster of force is never far from the door.
It comes in quickly.
If I told you that an unrepentant U.S. Navy seriously roughed up a Member of Congress because he was peacefully protesting,
or that a building full of people who were making political puppets were summarily arrested and taken away, or that people
walking calmly down the street near a political convention were arrested and brutalized for two weeks, what country would
you think you were in?
If I told you that I
was arrested for calmly reciting the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Capitol building, and that I cried when the police tried to
pull from my finger a wedding ring that had not been removed in sixty years, where would you think you were?
All these things --and
many more-- have happened under the American flag within the last twelve months.
If I told you that a
man would be in the White House who lost the popular vote, and who won the electoral vote by virtue of one member of the Supreme
Court, who is now in line for the Chief Justiceship and who suddenly cancelled her plans to retire, what country would you
think you had landed in?
It happens quickly and
moves swiftly. It is nothing for the forces of raw power to discredit the proper law enforcement agencies and set up new ones,
run by political cronies, and with prisons and police of their own to surpress and arrest those who dare protest.
It is nothing for raw
power to thumb its nose at the interests of world peace or the earth's environment for the sake of corporate expansion and
political power. It is nothing for raw power to mistake the flowering of political ideas and dissent in democracy's garden
as a dangerous tangle of garden plots and disloyalties. It can happen quickly. It can happen in America. Open your eyes.
It is up to a new generation
of American patriots to preserve our dream of individual freedom --to preserve our greatest open market: our open market of
political ideas and of leadership opportunities. Nothing is more important than this work, as the history of the previous
century shows us so clearly, written as it is in the blood of one hundred million people.
To those who died for
democracy, we owe a sacred trust. For those who died for lack of democracy, we owe our efforts to make a better world, worthy
of their memory. American democracy is worth a great deal of trouble and all our human strength.
Doris "Granny D" Haddock: candidate
for U.S. Senate from New Hampshire