Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another Dispatch from an Alternate Universe

In my last dispatch, I told you about the (still continuing) huge Citizens' Action in Washington, DC. In this addtion, I thought I would give you some of the reasons I think the current protests are having such an effect.

Your universe, where the war continues and congress has surrendered and activists hearts feel such despair, is incredibly close to our universe, where the end of the war is in sight, and people are exercising their power. The differences are minor, but we have come to realize that those small differences are the key.

The first difference, and (I cannot state this adequately) most important difference is...HOPE.


We have come to see that Hope, in its purest form, is not an emotion, not a sentiment, not an attitude, even.

It is an action. An ACTION!

It is a choice to perceive the world as being ALREADY better than it appears. If you despair, you make a choice to forget this. This is unworthy of a free people, it is unworthy of America, it is unworthy of our history, it is especially unworthy of Progressives.

There is no immutable law of physics that says the war must continue. There is no ultimate principle of reality that says that 40,000,000 Americans must go without health insurance. There is no hopeless law of economics that dictates that almost all the sweat of our labor goes to about 1000 individuals.

Why do you despair?

There is a woman living in East Oakland, California, who lost both her grandchildren to murder. Sitting with her can be a harrowing experience, feeling the tears pour out of her eyes in a silent, bewildered waterfall, until you hear the Hope. In spite of a grief that all but crushes her heart, that makes even getting out of bed to feed herself a task akin to climbing Everest, she works tirelessly in intervention programs in her neighborhood, because she chooses to believe that Love is why we are here. There are many kids in her neighborhood who rely on her kindness to see them through the day, to give them some small shelter from the violence. She is a treasure, priceless in the lives of so, so many kids, in large part because she hopes. I owe her every help, every word of encouragement I can give her. I need your help, because in some sense, she relies on you, too; to NOT despair, to do what you can to make her priceless work less of a burden. She NEEDS you, more than I can express.

There used to be a saying: "'American' ends in 'I CAN'"

What can you and I do to end the war? What can you and I do to help everyone people get health insurance? What can you and I do to end the Scandal of grinding poverty? What can do to show kids in East Oakland, in South Central, in the South Bronx, that there is hope for them? They need you more than I can say. Please, do not despair: do not retreat into a comforting, cheap "cynicism" that is just despair masquerading as sophistication. Because what hope has taught me is that despair is unworthy of us, it is selling ourselves ludicrously cheaply, and most importantly, it is abandoning those who desperately need our help. Do we want to end the war, or do the other things, because of some abstract, intellectualized moral principle, or because we want to end the indescribable suffering and desolation that seeps from every pore of warfare, destroying not just bodies, but souls? Do we want to get health insurance for everyone because it is "right" in some obscure, platonian way, or because the inherent dignity of our brothers and sisters DEMANDS it? Do we want to restore justice to our system of economic rewards because it is politically advantageous, or because living in a society where a few revel in lucred ease while many feel the pains and indignities and appalling prejudice that go with poverty, fills us with unspeakable shame?

We must hope. The times demand it. Hope. HOPE.

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