When times are tough, write.
It’s a small-bore way of setting things straight, if even in your mind. For then, words to mind to world, you’ll move outside yourself and you’ll meet the rest of the world out there. But, first, write.
To some, like me, it’s a way to arrange thoughts to fit a world that exists whether I do or no. To many, it’s a way to get ahead by planning ahead. But, first, write.
By writing, I mean moving outside your own nooks and crannies that feel comforting, that need comfort, but that without some moves into uncharted territory, will swallow you up. You will become cynical; you will cease to engage in a world outside yourself.
Eric Garner’s murder in Staten Island has gone unserved by justice, but it has not gone unremarked. The protests over the last couple days on the back of that miscarriage of justice, though apparently not of law, on the back of similar injustice in Ferguson is the writing on the ground we need to make small-bore changes in, and for, the world we want.
The moves now in that direction are provisional, step-wise, but they are the first moves we must make to set aright all our wrongs. This country that I love so much was founded on a world of wrongs, but the bit about it that I love, that may well be the heart of that love, is that it carries within itself the materials and nails for its own reform. The Bill of Rights fastens restrictions on our government’s engagement with us; cyclical elections set about the mechanism for self-correction. It’s just that, and sometimes fatally so, that both recourses sometimes seem non-credible in the ways some claim they divine utopia. When we’re setting about electing a War Hawk to move us away from the commitments engineered by another War Hawk/Nobel Peace Laureate you know things are off. When the police work under entirely different moral and legal schemes than the rest of the citizen body, then you know something’s off. But, you can’t set that aright without organizing, and you can’t organize yourself into others if you don’t write. So, first, write.
We’re not interested in utopia; we’re interested in heterotopia. We want different voices to sing out together; we want to clamor together as one. We want to do that in as many ways as fit the problems we have. We know that we’re outmatched by the machinery of the state and the knives out it wields. But we know that we can do things together, and we know we have to start out small–that’s part of what it means to not be a police commissioner, mayor, congressman, senator, president–but that’s okay, because we start together small and we build together big. We work together as acts of hope.
After all, as this photoessay recently published along with PBS News Hour shows, an urban farm in beat down West Virginia is thriving after lots of years of slow growth but hands over fists pluck, so we can make enough small-bore changes in our world to get some real effects and affects off the ground.
I hate the idea but sometimes we stop at the limits of yourselves, but we can do better.