The Piggy Bank Lobby: Children Pay, Congress Protects Them
Organized by: Allison Gustavson
I am a mother of young children devoted to gun reform in our country. Like so many of us, I am baffled and horrified by the inaction of our Congress on common-sense gun measures. It seems that our collective horror and indignation is not enough to push the needle: we need to lay bare the bottom-line terms upon which these decisions are based.
Many of our public servants no longer serve the public; they serve their donors and lobbyists, casting their votes to retain the privileges of office instead of supporting their constituents’ demands. The time has come for simple, honest, public shaming.
If the approximately 77 million children in our country could shake out their piggy banks, would those NRA-drugged senators and congresspeople rouse from their sleep and turn their attention to protecting them? If our democracy is for sale, can we at least make it clear that the next generation should also become a paying customer?
This project is part art installation, part civic action: with your contribution, we will heap thousands of miniature piggy banks on the steps of Congress and, in a dramatic visual protest on behalf of our nation’s voiceless children, offer payment in return for a vote in favor of measures supported by—depending upon which poll you consult—somewhere between 70 and 90% of Americans.
There will also be a powerful scrolling companion video. Parents can upload the names of their children who are currently still alive and intact and for whom we are asking Congress to put laws in place so that they remain so. It’s the inverse of the Vietnam Memorial—a tribute to those children who, if they knew how, would be begging to live their lives in peace and safety and to be protected by those officials who have been elected to work tirelessly on behalf of the greater good.
As Marianne Williamson recently tweeted, "It is the task of our generation to re-imagine human civilization." That sounds like an all-nighter type of assignment, but really, what else could be more thrilling than taking the bull by the horns and actually doing the work? What if we each took the time and paid the attention—however much we can, our own proportional share— to know who we are and what we are capable of? I’ve had this idea since 2013. Not going for it is obviously not working, so I decided to choose the alternative and see if it resonates. I dearly hope it does, but if it does not, then I will reach into my arsenal and try another one, and then another one. Because despite the feeling of utter busy-ness in my life as a working mother, I am breathtakingly privileged. I’m privileged because I have time to think about and write about things that are important to me, and I am privileged because I still get to hug and kiss my children each night. I think the biggest risk for me is that this project might be a humiliating flop. But the imbalance—really, the poison—of feeling so strongly that our legislators are failing us and yet not sensing that I have anything real to contribute to the shift, other than my one little vote, is the true source of my shame. I can live with embarrassment, but I can’t live with knowing that I’m not really trying. So I’m trying.