I bought my three favorite bumper stickers of all time twenty-three years ago on my first visit to Washington, DC; little did I know at that time that I’d be living there at some point in the future. I bought them from a shop that no longer exists up on 18th St. NW near Colombia Road in the neighborhood of Adams Morgan.

One said ‘Make the World a Better Place – Kill Yourself’. I gave that to my younger sister who was then living in LA but she gave up on it after a couple of weeks citing it was a bit over the top even for a place as crazy as LA. I also bought a bumpersticker that read ‘Pave the Rainforest’ which totally cracked me up. Once the novelty of that wore off I intended to cover it with the more comprehensive ‘Pave the Planet’ one. But it turned out that I wasn’t a bumpersticker kind of guy after all so they sit in a box somewhere in one of my daughter’s closets.

I bring up the bumperstickers merely to underscore how black humor sometimes articulates our worst fears. The future doesn’t scare me (but you’re going to have to read more of this blog to figure out why).And while I personally do not believe that mankind is going to usher in utopia anytime soon I do believe that some of the problems at hand are solvable.

If Malcom Gladwell (‘The Tipping Point’) and Nassim Taleb (‘The Black Swan’) are to be believed then everything comes down to the little things and sometimes the unexpected little things. For example, the improbably huge event that came to be known as Arab Spring ostensibly was started by one very unhappy man in Tunisia.

And a few years back NYC finally began to get its hands around its out of control subway problems simply by starting to stop people jumping turnstiles and riding without paying. And for whatever reason, the bigger subway related problems soon started to fall in line and get fixed too.

Then there is another example that something as simple as leaving a broken window in an urban environment unfixed eventually attracts crime. Criminals figure if no one cares enough to fix the window then no one is watching the house and if no one is watching the house then (and so on). There are many examples of how little things can create small events that in turn have immense consequences.

There are some big problems in the US at the moment. But if mathematics, physics and engineering can be used as an example then more times than not big problems can be solved by first breaking them down into a bunch of smaller problems. Pólya advises: “If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: find it.”

I got pretty frustrated with American culture last year so I decided to do something about it and moved to the central Mexico highlands. I’ve been down here an entire year now and while it might not be the answer to everyone’s problem I’ve found that it is working quite well for me at the moment. I live in a peso economy. I pay cash or trade for every little thing I need (which isn’t much). I buy made in Mexico products 95% of the time.

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is read the newspapers over coffee.

I read: The New York Times, Guardian (British), Fox, the Drudge Report, The Telegraph (British), and the rather shameful Daily Mail (which serves up gossip English style).

One doesn’t have to spend too awful much time reading the news to see that there are several ongoing controversies running simultaneously back home. A couple of these controversies deal with what appears to be misappropriated government power in regards to the rights and privacies of its citizens. The other controversies seem directly related to our government’s continued belligerent use of foreign policy.

So it’s not surprising that there seems to be many Americans who are grimly unsatisfied at big media’s rather blasé coverage of these events and ask each other ‘Where is all the outrage’? Organizations have sprung up over time like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movement who try and provide the American citizens alternatives and more honest solutions to the problems posed by big government but they’ve failed.

There have been three significant whistleblowers in the recent past who at great personal peril have attempted to provide some content around the outrage factors. It seems so far they’ve failed too.

So how does someone or some organization succeed where these others have failed? How do you make something big, small again; how do you get the genie back in the bottle once it’s been out having a good time? Conventional approaches like those of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street got subsumed by the immense gravitational black hole of the federal government. The whistleblowers were denounced as traitors. Conventional approaches done more or less within the conventional legal framework sounds like the way go; fair play and all that, but unfortunately none of it has been delivering the goods because nothing has changed. Every politician promises change but most fail to deliver.

So back home there appears to be lots of rage and frustration. Not to mention impotence; we want change but can’t get change so the political reality is making every citizen want to either give up or hang themselves in shame and just let the government do whatever the hell it wants.

But I’ve got some good news for you my fellow citizen; you have more power than you think. And just as equally cool as that – your power has the proverbial moral upper-hand for it originates in a quiet passivity and necessitates no violence of any kind. You don’t have to march, protest or even carry signs. You don’t need to proselytize or even utter a single unkind or controversial word to anyone. In fact there isn’t a whole lot you need to do to affect national change. Do you want to see more and better paying jobs in the US? Do you want to prevent another wholesale collapse of a once great city like Detroit? Do you want your government working for you for a change?

So here is the premise – You support what you spend your money on. What you buy, how little or small: what product, what industry, or what country you buy into or out of is ultimately what you support.  I could go on and on with examples but buy a single cigarette and you just supported the entire tobacco industry. One sniff of cocaine and you’ve just propped up the cartels. Buy meat products from your local grocery store that comes from a big slaughterhouse far away and you’ve just enabled animal cruelty.

So, if you want to be a positive force in something as big and scary and complicated as geo-politics then consider your spending habits.

Buy everything that you can local. Certain countries can’t oppress others if you’re not buying their stuff. It’s hard to finance wars and other acts of aggression if there isn’t any coin coming in. Buying local is also good for a lot of other reasons. Grocery stores will eventually quit stocking certain items if you quit buying them (let’s send Nestle and its manufactured foods back to Switzerland).

Barter – Again, it’s all about keeping it local.

Learn a new skill – Preferably one that will enable bartering as well as render a good service to the community.

Create a new cottage industry in your community – Create a communal business that promotes quality and durability first. (Aren’t you tired of buying shit that wears out?)

Drive your car less – Let’s reduce our support of undesirable regimes.

Find a way to invest in education – Either yours or someone else’s. If necessary make this a community project. Less ignorance in the world results in more cultural tolerance, better choices for people, and greater awareness with greater respect for this tiny little spinning blue globe we all inhabit.

Remember, nobody is going to do this for you.

And no one can spend your money on bad things if you’re not giving it to them.

PS – And turn off your damn TV (and other electronics) and do something wild like get out and socialize with your neighbors for a change.