Saturday, April 28, 2012

Love and other Transgressive Behavior: Thing of Beauty #50-101

I'm tidying the apartment because I have a date with Mr. Wisdom this afternoon.  We're staying in.
However, I still have time to devote a few minutes to Occupy The Mail Box.  Today I sent two requests for money back to the DNC taking them up on their offer to pay the postage in the United States.

On the back of the envelopes, I wrote:  NO MORE MONEY FOR THE CORPORATE UNIPARTY

On the letter itself, in the space where I could have checked the amount to be charged to my credit card, I wrote: No longer consider myself a Democrat.  Voting GREEN!  Some dedicated volunteer will read it and shake his/her head, fearful that the nation will be in worse hands with Romney at the helm, as if the same hands aren't controlling nearly all the elected officials in Washington DC.

I'm taking May Day off to show my solidarity with the General Strike, and maybe by May Day I'll be able to fire up some righteous indignation and hit the streets somehow - but honestly, there's been so much infighting about ideologies that I don't even want to be involved anymore.

It's easy to get pulled into fights with passionate people, especially before anyone has had their coffee. As much as I like deconstructing theoretical concepts, comparing and contrasting various philosophical positions and discussing the implications of current events - there are so many people who think some theory is going to save the country that I had to turn my attention elsewhere.  I absolutely see the necessity of demonstrating for our rights as workers and citizens - I just believe that diversity is ultimately strength, so that ideological flexibility allows for maximum participation.

Some people feel camaraderie and connection by joining in marches.  Others prefer to support initiatives in quiet, less visible ways with food, medical supplies, money and - quite possibly, providing a safe place for the fighters to retreat and regroup.  Hopefully those fighters won't be convinced that people like me who find labels potentially divisive are wishy washy and stupid.  Labels can be handy as shorthand, so that if you call yourself a secular humanist, for example, people have a general idea about your world view.  But when people equate their identities with their label, areas of commonality can be lost- especially when people are determined to convince you that their ideology should be adopted by everyone.

I don't understand why taking care of each other and the planet has to have academically authoritative support and a specialized vocabulary word - especially when you consider that no matter what economic and political systems a particular country has in place, as long as assholes are in charge - the people are screwed.  Everywhere you look, assholes are in charge.  Unregulated capitalism is at the root of the problem in most places - but even if capitalism is "corrupt to the core," as many people insist, it seems like those of us living in this capitalist country, breathing capitalist air as it were, working for capitalist institutions and buying products produced by capitalists are stained to some degree by that very same corruption simply by being active participants in the system regardless of our individual philosophical inclinations.

It's like driving your car down the road deciding where to buy gas.  Do you buy from the corporation that destroyed the Gulf of Mexico, or do you go with the one who has turned Nigeria into a nation where thugs in john boats are killing each other over peanut butter jars filled with crude oil?   Everyone who drives or rides in a car is depending on fossil fuels and must chose between the lesser of two evils when filing the gas tank.  We can all make more informed, sustainable choices when purchasing products - buying milk, vegetables and eggs from grown at local farms and going to the neighborhood drugstore instead of the big, box store.  Nevertheless we remain active participants in this system which leaves little room for affecting a posture of Holier Than Thou ideological purity.

When I'm choosing where to make a cosmetics purchase, for example, I shop at the Chanel counter at Bergorf's then relax in the bar on the seventh floor.  The bar at Bergdorf's is one of my favorite places on Earth, but I will not being going there on May Day.  I will not be getting a manicure either.  Bourgeois bitches are workers, too, after all.

Economic and Political theories are all well and good, and certainly when we're all sitting around the camp fire after the infrastructure has deteriorated and we're living like Planet of the Apes, we need to talk about how to manage things in the community - or the nation in case Monsanto and others succeed in turning us into a country where the fields are irrigated with Gatorade, much like the state of the nation in Idiocracy - but in my humble opinion, it's counterproductive to insist that one theory or another is so superior that until this nation adopts that system, we're doomed.  We're already doomed.

Take a few minutes to hear what Anjali Appadurai, a student at the College of the Atlantic, told the assembled delegation at The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban last year:

Anjali was specifically addressing climate change, and certainly predatory, unregulated capitalism has contributed to climate change - just like it has contributed to pretty much every problem we have. One reason Anjali's address to the delegation was so powerful is because she avoided using "isms" and "ologies" when pointing at the failures of her elders and clearly defining a path toward solution.
 Her speech remained grounded in concrete examples and never once drifted toward abstractions.

Maybe socialism is the best of all possible worlds. It's often said that Jesus was a socialist - but we see how little influence Jesus has in Washington despite all the overt declarations of deep Christianity on both sides of the Congressional aisle.  Our leaders and officials, and more importantly the 1% of the 1% or The Owners as George Carlin called them, do not give a flying fuck about taking care of each other and the planet.  They don't care today anymore than they did five hundred years ago.

Despite the dire situation in the world at large, the kitchen still needs sweeping, the sheets need changing and the bathroom must be cleaned.  As I'm ordering my own little corner of chaos, I choose to focus on the human connection - specifically understanding, acceptance, gratitude and an abundance of love for every single one of us, not just Mr. Wisdom although he will be on the receiving end of that abundance today.

Yesterday at school, all of the kids and grown-ups climbed onto the window seats to watch the space shuttle fly up the Hudson on the back of the 747.   The teachers were all whooping and cheering, but I'm pretty sure half the kids had never heard of the space program or NASA, even though they mostly like the idea of rocket ships.

I wonder what these preschoolers will grow up to invent in this world they've inherited.  There's an abundance of bullshit, that's for sure.  But at least at our school, there is an abundance of determination in the parents and teachers to create a loving environment which will hopefully facilitate a shift in the societal consciousness - like Martin Luther King and Gandhi said all those years ago.  My personal hero of the moment, bell hooks, also says it in Teaching to Transgress.  Between bell hooks and Anjali Appardurai, we've found Thing of Beauty #50 - 101 (Explore Beauty Challenge, from realia)

bell hooks


Oso said...

Beautiful post.I hope you and Mr Wisdom have a wonderful evening.Looking forward to Mayday, even more looking forward to it being over.
Your students are fortunate to have you.

Jennifer said...

"I don't understand why taking care of each other and the planet has to have academically authoritative support and a specialized vocabulary word..." I don't understand why everything has to be labeled, pigeonholed. Everybody has to be on a side - "if you're not us you're them." Our prime minister is champion at it. Lately he's taken to calling environmental activists "extremists." Happy to report though, that it backfired, he has simply caused MORE people to align with environmentalists because of the ridiculousness of his words. That's hopeful, no? Anyway, all this labeling has created a societal divisiveness that is truly frightening. And I'm choosing not to participate in it.

But never mind all that. I'm getting my own little space in order today too. And I'm choosing to carry with me the theme of loving and kindness though the day. We do what we can.

I hope you and Mr. Wisdom have a beautiful date.

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