what’s below is a stream of random thoughts and frustrations and feelings that i wrote down back in late february and early march. it came out of a low few weeks when i was feeling particularly full of despair. i came out of it (partially) by focusing on getting my garden plan going including starting lots of seeds. those are now seedlings and the promise of spring has helped me feel back in gear. i will say, though, that the joy of growing things and taking care of my home and my space and myself makes it harder to pick up that newspaper or listen to democracy now! every day. so while i know i’ll continue to come back to these topics i feel so passionate about, the plants may steal my attention for a time.
a bit of a ramble and rant.
i’ve had a lot on my mind lately. i guess that’s the norm for me but i have even been waking each morning as of late barely grasping at dreams that i can sense were vivid and long and chaotic and full but i cannot remember any of them. my mind jumps from the suez of last week to the montgomerys and birminghams of 50-60 years back to random information gathered about iceland or estonia today. it’s all a stew in my mind attempting to keep hope and motivation stirring and brewing as my days and nights are overflowing with thoughts of the future of the climate and all living beings on this planet.
i am a pretty optimistic person generally – which i believe is quite a feat for someone who spends so much time reading and learning about the day-to-day of the world. i have no delusions that capitalism or the market will save us nor do i hold faith in technology as some savior either. and yet, generally, i believe in a better world. lately, that’s gotten harder. not because i still don’t believe in humans ability to move forward, slowly, into that better world but because i don’t know how we get there with all we’re up against even if any number of acceptable paths lie in front of us, clearly defining better choices.
we are marginalized, we are distracted, we are pushed down by our very work at survival while the koch brothers light matches around the world ready to watch it all burn.
there are so many ideas for other options, i have ideas – big ideas and little ideas – to take us in another direction. i’m not the only one. but the how seems harder than ever. i’ve tried joining the groups – the ones that hold the protests – i haven’t had much luck getting in – but maybe that’s just because i’m not sure how to mesh what they’re doing with what seems likely to work.
i watched the alternative news reports – the 10s of thousands who marched on washington, d.c. demanding the keystone xl pipeline be scrapped and real work on climate change be done. obama wasn’t even there – he was golfing with celebrities and oil tycoons. seriously. but then what i really thought about was the march on washington 1963. it’s february – black history month – and democracy now! has been running relevant stories throughout the month including some on the civil rights movement. and i think: the march on washington wasn’t THE work – it was part of the work; it was the gathering of people who worked on ‘the birmingham campaign’ or in montgomery or detroit. but the march wasn’t the work – it was, in many ways, the culmination of work. the changes that happened in regards to segregation and institutional discrimination and voting happened town by town and, yes, then that led to national legislation and some shifts in perspective and society. but hundreds of thousands of people didn’t just show up one day in the capital – it was years in the making, in the building.
but we get it all backwards now – we think the marches are the work. obviously, 10s of thousands of people didn’t magically just get to d.c. last week either – the work must be being done – but is it THE work to get people to d.c.? i wonder. i’ve lived in three cities in the last decade and enviromental work, work on climate change hasn’t been anywhere i could clearly see – and i’ve been active in organizing communities. in the last year or two, i’ve actively sought it out. i haven’t gotten very far.
look, i’m not trying to be a jerk but who are and where from are the people in d.c.? what do they do in their communities? i don’t see this. i’ve been in and around organizing communities for over a decade – what matters is the affect on neighborhoods and towns and communities.
climate change is such an intensely serious issue and i look online and read pamphlets and go to events and i’m trying like hell to find work that doesn’t feel like begging for legislative change that even if it somehow happened, wouldn’t even really be binding or necessarily effective in anywhere near the time necessary to do any good. it’s really frustrating. and i feel like i hear about inspiring organizing happening out there but why is it so hard to find? i’m not trying to lay down some stupid activist credentials above, i’m trying to point out that i’ve been out there, trying like hell to have somebody organize me and i’ve only come up short. this is where my optimism begins to falter.
we live in a corporate oligarchy where the state’s primary purpose is to ensure the free hand of the market’s exploitation of the planet and all it’s resources from tar sands to sweatshop workers. and yet we’re going to ask that state to side with us? never gonna happen – not nearly in time.
you wanna go yell at obama to stop keystone xl? fine. but it better not be the big play. this is where i’m losing it. i’m watching too many white folks go ask the energy companies and their state for concessions and i wonder if this is it.
and i want more and i also sit heavy with the reality that it might be my job to go and try to push towards another track, if possible. i don’t know.
i do know that iceland is trying to decide whether or not to abandon an historical isolation in order to lay down a 700-mile (i think that number is right) long cable to sell geothermal energy to europe. i know that people in suez, egypt don’t accept the co-optation of their revolution by morsi & co. but also don’t stop fighting just because they’re not in tahrir, not in cairo.
it’s not that it’s not important to march on, hell, take over, the capital. but that has to represent something. in the u.s., i wonder if it’s the less-connected, moral-high-grounded version of lobbying. and i wonder if that’s what we’ve come to – one way or the other, we just want the government to be good and work for us; we want to hold on to some belief that we can push it to do so. we can’t. we must let go. we no longer have time. we must move on and believe in something else. i just wish i knew how WE do that.
i wrote this stream-of-consciousness, must get frustrated and confused feelings out of my body rant about a week and a half ago. i considered just leaving it in my journal like so many others like it. writing that feels more like something personally therapeutic than a post.
but i also returned to the bay area this week for a short visit and it gave me perspective on questions that i’d been asking myself about how and why some of my focus of passion has been shifting. what i mean by that is why has climate change and the desire to participate in a climate justice movement become so central to me? is it just how i’m changing as i relate to the world or is it connected with my own shift in geographic location? here, it’s in the 60s and sunny with some scattered showers. it’s the sf bay area. it’s kinda how it always feels. and food comes from close by – if you try at all, almost everything can be local – and this place gives off a consistent, shiny glow of things always going on.
i wonder if i would hold the same focus if i still lived here. i wonder if i did if it would be easy to be involved in organizing work? it was already coming to the forefront of my mind before i left and i felt alienated from the little that i saw happening around me but maybe i would have found a place for myself. being here, all i can feel is the weight of what can only be called a violent explosion of gentrification that seems unending. everywhere.
back in the northland, just west of the lakes, there were several feet of snow on the ground when i left and i realize that i don’t know much about how snow fall affects drought. because the drought in the middle of the u.s. was terrible and there’s no guarantee it won’t be another dry season this year. i worry about growing even my own little patch of food – my first scrape at some ability to be self-reliant. i worry about access to food seeing all the produce even in the co-op come from california by the end of winter there.
i have to believe that, with patience, i will find a place where i am that i can contribute to a struggle for the planet and the health and happiness of all peoples. i ended up posting this because i wondered if anyone else out there felt lost and a bit frustrated with what to do sometimes. and maybe we all need to get a good ramble and rant out there.