Ronald Miller is not your typical retired citizen. He didn’t move somewhere far away and warm. Instead he stayed in Duluth and despite retiring he has barely stopped working. Miller got more involved with politics in Duluth than ever. He is a member of Progressive Action, Corporation vs. Democracy, Joy Laugh Club, and most recently with the 350.org climate action campaign.
To some, Miller is seen as a radical, someone who has a very strong political standpoint. However, he sees himself as part of a bigger picture. He has a vision. He doesn’t want to just take a stand; he wants to make a difference.
“If I have help from citizens to make noise about my vision, I truly believe it could make a world of a difference in the Duluth community," he said.
So what exactly is his vision? In 2003 there was a protest at the civic center where thousands of Duluth citizens gathered to speak out against the war. Many of them were UMD faculty whom were involved in a campaign, UMD Faculty Against War.
“This was the last time I remember that many people getting together to try to make a difference,” Miller said. “After the war began, I feel like everyone just gave up."
He would like to see anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 people gathered at the civic center to laugh, similar to what happens outside of the courthouse with the Joy Laugh Club.
Warren Howe, who is also a member of the Joy Laugh Club, has listened to Ronald recite his speech outside of the courthouse before. “It’s obvious that he [Ronald] is dedicated to his different organizations, he would stand out here even if no one were listening," Howe said.
He spreads the word of his vision as often as he can, and to anyone he can. Last Friday Ronald took advantage of Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe’s open mic night. “They require you to say a poem usually so I chose two, but I mostly recite my democracy summit," Miller said.
Wearing a large flag with the logos of corporations covering it as a backwards cape, he stood in front of the small crowd at the local bakery. He wore a bright orange winter hat with four buttons pinned on it. A white button with the words Corporate Personhood crossed out, a red button promoting Margaret Anderson Kelliher for governor, and a UMD Faculty Against War button traced the front of the hat.
“Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the might ocean, and the pleasant land; Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, make our earth an Eden, like the heaven above," Miller recited as a start off to his speech. You could tell he had practiced this speech many times before.
He said he chose this poem because water is one of Earth’s most valuable resources, and the pollution of water is of major concern recently. Climate issues are something Miller has many opinions about, which is a main focus of the 350.org campaign.
He stood under a dim light holding the speech that he had printed out just before. He explained the reasoning of the flag he was wearing, which was to get voters’ signatures on his petition, which rejects the concept of corporate personhood. To explain the debate over corporate personhood better, it can be described as the belief that corporations should not be considered as persons under the Constitution.
“My civics project and petition to bring before the city council a resolution that rejects the concept of corporate personhood, an idolatrous concept, teaches service to God," he continued to say.
As Miller was finishing his speech, you could tell he was truly passionate about everything he had to say. When you look around the bakery, most of the customers seemed engaged in their own conversations, getting up in the middle of his speech to order coffee, but that didn’t stop him. He didn’t just get up in front of a crowd and rehearse a skit, he spoke with enthusiasm and as if he had a purpose. His purpose was to spread his vision, and hopefully he could reach one person, then his time was worthwhile.
Miller ended his summit with a final poem about water titled “Rain-drops."
“Some little drops of water, whose home was in the sea, to go upon a journey, once happened to agree," he said as he bowed his head.
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