Donkey Punch

April 9, 2008

Who do you think you are?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — t4toby @ 2:40 pm

That is a question I think of quite often when trying to come up with something fresh and insightful for this blog. Who do I think I am? What can I say that hasn’t?

I guess I never really show much about myself on this blog. But I’ve run into the wall on politics and outrage. I can barely keep my own house in order, so what business do I have worrying about other peoples’ issues. The phrase Rage aganist the Machine come to mind. What can I do to a speeding freight train driven by a power-mad pol? De-rail it? Then what happens to the innocent people riding on that train? And how does that make me any better than the conductor of that Railway to Hell?

I guess it comes down to this: To really make a change will involve a great deal of sacrifice by a huge group of people. The powers-that-be are very unwilling to let go of the power they have amassed, and I’m afraid the only way to dislodge the corporate cancer will be raw and brutal. And am I willing to jeopardize my relationship with my daughters in the name of something so esoteric? But if I do nothing, will my daughters even have a future?

When I think of what it will take, I think of Les Miserables. Those students manned the barricades and subsequently died for what? Their beliefs? Their pride? The revolution that eventually did occur in France was so savage and brutal that I wonder if they did die in vain.

One thing is for sure. The powerful have a long and storied history of perpetrating horrors on people in order to maintain their lifestyle. And 2008 is no different. Any thoughts?



  1. t4: while i won’t pretend to know exactly how you feel, i will tell you that i have had similar feelings, especially recently. again and again, i find i feel like a sucker for feeling optimistic about politicians, elections, propositions (thanks, california!), and other possibilities for change, because it seems like things never actually change all that much.

    we do live in a country (and, indeed, a world) that is run by corporations. this makes me feel sick, and not just because of the pollution they allow themselves to introduce into my air, water, and earth. a lot is wrong, more than any of us know, and we’ve been steadily hurtling in the wrong direction for so long that the best i feel i can hope for is for someone to try to apply the brakes.

    but the realization to which i keep returning is that all i can do is all i can do. i would love to wake up tomorrow morning in a wonderful new world where justice, equality, and peace were the values with which decisions were made (and where decisions were made by large, diverse groups of people, after careful consultation, and always for the common good.)

    and that won’t, can’t, isn’t going to happen tomorrow morning. possibly not ever.

    the machine is powerful. the people who hold power are certainly prepared to kill to keep it, if not to die themselves.

    and what can you do? the answer, both beautiful and infuriating in its simplicity: what you can do.

    one of the great limitations i’ve seen of progressive movements is a tendency toward absolutism that leads to exclusion and paralysis. if one values animals, one must become a vegan. vegetarianism isn’t enough; neither is reducing the amount of meat one eats or making a commitment to humanely produced food. if one values workers’ rights, everything one purchases has to be union-made, starting right now, no exceptions. if one is concerned about environmental degradation, one must stop driving ever, eat only organic food, quit using plastic, etc.

    and really, tiny incremental change adds up. whether it ends up being enough is something we can’t know for sure now.

    i want to emphasize that i find myself feeling similarly stuck and damned whether i do or don’t, but i would like to firmly and politely suggest that the idea that you can either be a violent revolutionary who does his best to fix this broken, broken world OR an excellent, attentive dad who is disengaged from the messes of the rest of the world is a false choice.

    raising your kids to be kind, intelligent, critical thinkers is a radical act of resistance. and while you, personally, t4, will not end the disgusting corporate domination that increasingly characterizes our world, you have a thousand chances to strike a blow here and there. find a few places to start. boycott walmart forever (goodbye, naked walmart girls!), stop using and buying bottled water, only buy organic ketchup, help your daughters and their friends to make their own non-commercial fun and to cast a critical eye on advertising, insert your own suggestions here; you know your own life.

    and really, in the end, everything we are doing might be too little, too late. no one knows. feel it, acknowledge it, hate it, be grateful that you possess the capacity for experiencing it, but don’t let the outrage become permanent. don’t let it get you stuck in its doldrums, or you let them win.

    i spent the day in san francisco, and i saw so much raw potential. there were so many people out today who didn’t usually go to protests, who didn’t really know much about tibet or china’s human rights record or what is going on in darfur, but they did care. and the fundamental sense of concern for others was there. i feel more hopeful than i have in a long time, not because i have any illusions about it being easy or quick to create a new world, but because i have seen, close and personal, that there really are many others out there who want something similar. whether or not they understand it, whether or not they know where they think they ought to begin, whether or not they were white kids with dreads saying things like, “one love; karma’s a bitch”——they’re out there.

    hang on, dude. drop a line if you like.


    Comment by sarah — April 9, 2008 @ 11:16 pm

  2. what she said.

    Comment by grindchopblend — April 10, 2008 @ 9:38 am

  3. Thanks, Sarah.

    Sometime I think having my head so far up the interweb’s ass makes me a little crazy. I appreciate the perspective.

    Comment by t4toby — April 10, 2008 @ 9:47 am

  4. you’re welcome.

    Comment by sarah — April 15, 2008 @ 11:27 am

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