Time for a change

I am not any happier about the election than before, but I am finding that anger is a difficult emotion to maintain. Even depression is hard to keep up when there are people to love and sunshiny spots to bask in and a new crop of satsumas to greedily devour as fast as I can lay hands on them. But I am determined not to allow inertia and the little distractions of everyday life gradually wear down my commitment to resistance and change. So I have made two resolutions: to stay as informed as possible, and to never sit back and watch anymore when I can act instead. Even if that action is just signing a petition, I resolve to no longer operate under the illusion that what happens in far-off Washington doesn’t have any effect on my daily life. Regardless of whether I end up a physical participant in protest efforts (ah, I miss Berkeley), from here on out, I mean to stay intellectually and psychologically involved in the fight for a better world. As Mario Savio shouted from Sproul Plaza in December 1964, “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” The machine hasn’t quite hit that point yet, but it’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t. If I’m doing my job properly, you can expect more serious content in my journal from now on.

Over the past few days I’ve been immensely encouraged, inspired, and supported by the words and ideas of many others who have also taken this election as a call to action. These are reminders that even if half the country voted for Bush, there is still another half just beginning to assert itself. You can find many of my sources of encouragement among my LiveJournal Friends.[link broken] Here are some others:

-From Indigo Som’s journal, a humorous, passionate argument by a San Franciscan for staying in this country despite all temptation to leave.

Here’s what everyone who’s right now on the brink of packing their bags and checking the real estate prices in Vancouver has to know and has to have drilled into their disconsolate hope-crushed souls right this minute, before it’s too late: You cannot leave. You cannot drop the armor now. Why? Because you are needed, more than ever. You are mandatory to keep the energy flowing, the karmic vibrator buzzing, to keep the progressive and lucid half of the nation breathing and healthy and awake and ever reaching out to the half that’s wallowing in fear and violence and homophobia and sexual dread, hoping to find harmony instead of cacophony, common ground instead of civil war, some sort of a shared love of a country so messy and internationally disrespected and openly confused its own president can’t even speak the language.

-From Harlan’s journal: the NYT’s Thomas L Friedman writes on the election’s exposure of a deeply divided nation.

It seemed as if people were not voting on his performance. It seemed as if they were voting for what team they were on . . . I’d bet anything that if the election ballots hadn’t had the names Bush and Kerry on them but simply asked instead, “Do you watch Fox TV or read The New York Times?” the Electoral College would have broken the exact same way.

-Sent to me by a member of my cohort: Howard Zinn’s “The Optimism of Uncertainty,” which appeared in a September (2004) issue of The Nation, strikes a lovely note of optimism and hope. Two quotes:

Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society.
An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time . . . human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something . . . if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

-Last but not least, though perhaps not as substantial as these others: Michael Moore on “17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists” and some “first thoughts after the election.”[link broken]

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]