In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
– George Orwell, “Homage to Catalonia”
Orwell’s words are still true today, maybe even more so after Tuesday.
To paraphrase another great source of political philosophy, for so many of you out there in Blogland, politics is the life we’ve chosen. Why? Because we recognize that however awful it can sometimes be, politics matters with a capital M, and because there’s so much bullshit being slung out there that someone’s got to grab a shovel and try to unclog the toilets. Why not us, right?
The last two days hurt, they hurt bad, and the next 1,530 days are going to hurt even worse. But we need to organize, to plan, to speak out, and to simply do the best we can.
Even in this short two days of mourning (not done yet, but the wheels are slowly beginning to turn again), I’ve come to realize that the dreams and hopes we all share for a better society aren’t dead. They still exist, but they’re going to have to wait. They’re gonna be deferred, put on hold, while we organize and plan and rethink, well, everything.
The arc of justice narrative is real, but sometimes it takes unexpected and terrible detours. This is already looking like the worst one in my lifetime. But that’s not a reason to give up, as I see it. Nothing worth having ever comes easy, especially not overcoming long entrenched forces like racism, misogyny, class warfare, and the like.
“Fight” is an often overblown and hackneyed buzzword in politics. Everyone’s always talking about “fighting” for this or that cause. Some people recoil from “fight” because of the connotation of physical violence.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Violent fights are about hate in some form. But when the fight is about ideas and change for the better then it’s not about hate. Who are the figures of the past hundred years who have made the most fundamental progress on freedom and individual rights? King and Gandhi immediately come to mind. What do they have in common? They preached a movement of non-violence. They “fought,” but not in the physical sense. The way to win – to really win – is to fight for and with love. If we do that, there’s no way we can lose in the end.
So in that sense, the term “fight” strikes just the right tone in our terrible new reality. In fact, I submit that our adversaries have been “fighting” for a long time, while we think and ponder and ruminate, often too much.
There’s a reason for that, I think. Until Tuesday, many of us – including me – thought we spoke for an emerging majority in this country. Things weren’t perfect, far from it, but there was a growing sense of momentum, a feeling that we were headed in the right direction. We didn’t need to fight, because we thought we were winning. Well, that train just crashed and burned. It’s time we fight for what we believe in.
It’s going to be a brutal struggle, a fight for the soul and the spirit of this grand experiment called America. I still believe it can someday be what it has been claiming for 240 years, even when it too often fell short. And as awful as the past two days have been, I am ready, even eager, to have this fight. How about you?