There was an interesting discussion on the Chris Hayes show Sunday. It was centered on events in Egypt but extended to a general discussion on revolution and power. One of the panelist was George Martinez who brought a radical Occupy perspective. There was moment between him and another guest, which I wish I could copy from a transcript so I could be very clear. How I remember it, or how I took it was that George felt like revolutionaries made change by resisting the push to be part of institutional politics and another person somewhat pedantically said but then they never had power.
It made me think about all the years I ignored anything that was happening inside the beltway, or the statehouse and focused on everything alternative. My feeling was that the system was so corrupt and sick that there was no way to participate. I think I even skipped voting in at least one election. I believed the system would destroy itself and be replaced by alternative, new age, hippie, collective, peace and love. Or something like that.
There is power inside the beltway, which is why I vote now. And why I make an effort to understand things. But there is also power in the streets. I'm often so discouraged by the tone of things. I listen to too much talk news. Even when I agree I often wish for a more specific articulation. I still think the system is sick and broken and possibly irredeemable. But I vote.
Paul Auster wrote a short piece in the New Yorker ( hate when I can't link to things) in which he describes a trip on which he was angry and having a fit because a taxi driver wouldn't accept his fare. It wasn't far enough. Auster has a fit in which he almost loses a manuscript. Then he sees a woman walking gracefully along, balancing a bundle on her head, carrying a baby in a snuggy and a bag in each hand. Moving with the ease and balance of someone who is not expecting more. Not expecting fair. Not expecting right.
While the political ads spin and the Supreme Court manipulates and the corporations spend there are people carrying the weight of their lives with grace and dignity.