Love not Hate

Maybe it’s because I was born in 1960. Or maybe it’s because of the two daughters marching beside me. Or the feeling I’ve always had that I was born too late or too early, caught in this in-between generation that is marked by unearned, random prosperity for me and the rest of the privileged–but not for far too many, not for my daughters’ futures.
 
I cried ten steps into this morning’s march.
 
It overwhelmed me to see so many marchers. Far too often I feel isolated, my ear attuned to the horror more than the hope. I burrow in the belief that it’s me, just me. No one else truly aches knowing how much hate and fear destroy. That it’s horrifyingly dangerous to normalize unabashed, outright lies–a constant stream of provable lies. Fatal.
 
Even in post-apocalyptic dystopian Cormack McCarthy worlds of brutally savage survival, we must take care of one another, no matter what. And this should expose me as the fraud I am, touting pithy little graduate school cool catchphrase, club affiliations like the post-human age subscribers or the three-cheers-for-robots-taking-over-the-world meet-up. Truth is, I believe in the Renaissance and that the human capacity to create is greater than its capacity to destroy. If only we…

Revolution: Ten for Today

Millions will march and fight for freedom, from oppression, from patriarchy, one million women march. I will bring my daughters, and they will know what sacrifice they must make for freedom in this country. Or they will prepare to move out of the country. 

Fight or flight, isn’t that the way of things? After the election, my first instinct was flight. That’s often my way. I never really flee physically, but I leave mentally. I thought about getting my children out of here, college in Canada or France. Thank God for duel citizenship. Just make them grow in a place where women are not objects of hate and self-loathing. Give them promise.

But for me, well, I could close the blinds, darken the room, better to light up my screen to make the words burn into my eyes. Make every word count. Quit my outside job, so I can hole up and never see them, those who ain’t woke, as my daughter would say.

She, one of my two woke daughters, likes San Francisco as a college choice. She wants to be with like-minded folks. We are a bastion of expansive values: free love, not your father’s love, expansion not contraction, possibility not improbability. They would have us roped and tethered to their poles.

I grew up in the shadows of revolution. Missed the big love by a half decade or so. But I have inherited the capital of my foremothers, my powerful free-lovers and Black Power fist pumpers. When love and revolution permeated culture by necessity, a newly emerging consciousness that the status quo needed cracking open–wide. Let the dragons loose.

So many false starts with the Bernie revolution and the 99%’ers before him. So many apathetic revolts that you could hardly classify them as disturbances, more like gastric distress. But the country has turned to the darkness of dictatorial capitalism and extremism. The pussy puppet believes he runs a show. Reality tv via the White House.

And we joke and rage and prod each other with vitriol still. The attacks and protests, where will they collide and start the conflagration. I’ve got my gas can ready. 

Image: tanya-cuba-kgb-revolution (pixabay)

Feeling no burn

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Always astounded by the lack of historical fluency of college students, I once again found myself defining terms like ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ and giving history lessons on the Constitutional context–revolution, tyranny and power. Most students did not even know from whom America gained its independence judging by the quiz on the first day of class. It’s always a big job to explain the story of America.

But now it’s research paper time and the readings turn political, especially advantageous in an election year: essays on gun control, torture, colonialism, free speech, economics (subprime mortgage debacle) and poverty, to name a few. My hope is that students will attach history to current events, find relevance in the story behind the polarization of just about every issue: guns-no guns, pro-life/pro-choice, as well as examine the apologists for just about everything from torture during the second Iraq war to complaints of reverse discrimination in school admissions policies. 

But after my history and vocabulary lessons, I asked my students about voting. Very few said they would vote this election on the grounds of apathy and disengagement from the process. None felt it made a difference. Where were all the enraged college students riled by the rogue candidates on both sides of the political spectrum? I was hoping to find a few Bernie Sanders enthusiasts in particular to question. From newscasters and social media accounts of his popularity, I was certain I would find a few supporters among college students. I did find one.

She liked his free college and single payer universal health care solutions and felt he was for the people and not big corporations nor Wall Street. Unfortunately, she did not stand up to gentle questioning about how she thought congress would vote regarding free college and universal health care. But she had reached the end of her thoughts on the subject and so I was on my own to speak on behalf of revolution, which is how Bernie Sanders’ words and ideas have been characterized. 

In the end, I worked myself into a lather detailing some of the best known revolutions in American history from independence to unionization to the Vietnam War’s end. They all took people getting hurt, risking life and liberty. They took numbers on foot, in the streets. Short of that, revolutions do not happen, just gradual shifts by attrition, erosion, desensitization and devolution or evolution. The pendulum keeps swinging. But Bernie’s revolution, as inviting as it sounds, is one for the streets, not the ballot. 

I am skeptical about what will happen should he get to the White House and meet with an intransigent congress as has been the trend in recent years. Will he disappoint those youth who came out to get him elected and thereby give them reason to stay home next election? I suppose that is the risk of any campaign’s success–failure to make good on promises.

We read Garrett Keizer’s “Loaded” about guns for today. Keizer is a gun-toting progressive by his own admission. After outlining the traditional camps and characterization of the two sides as either NRA gun violent nuts or tree hugging pacifists, he decries the lack of revolutionary fervor in defending rights, ideas and the Constitution. His last paragraph segued nicely into my drifting English, history and political lecture:

The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Still, if asked to choose between an urban guerrilla armed with an Ak-47 and a protester armed with a song sheet and a map showing how to get to the designated ‘free speech zone,’ I would decline on the grounds of insufficient faith and negligible inspiration. Rather, give me some people with very fanatical ideas about the sanctity of habeas corpus and the length of time an African American or any other American ought to have to wait on line to vote. Give me some people who are not so evolved that they have forgotten what it is to stand firm under fire or even to squat near the fire in a cave. Give me an accountant who can still throw a rock.