The Awkward, Gangly Form of Hope

I wrote, last August, about my perception that certain audacious political acts were a sure sign of desperation in those who want to stymie progressive action in our culture.

Tonight, I commented:

"If I could give one thing to every progressive I know, it would be more confidence in the inevitability of human evolution."

This is not rhetoric for me. It represents my deepest beliefs.

I believe that progressive, expansive attitudes/action -- attitudes and action that lead us to ever-increasing connection with other humans, other beings, our planet, and the Universe that we live in -- are the natural trajectory of our evolutionary path.

I want to bottle that somehow, and give a big dose of it to every human I know.

I've noticed, lately, that many people near my own age have been popping up with the question: "What happened to us? We used to be so idealistic! We were going to change the world!"

I've noticed, lately, that many people older than I have been popping up with the question: "What can I do? I'm old. I'm glad I won't be around to see the fallout from this mess."

I've noticed, lately, that many people younger than I have been popping up with the question: "What can I do? I just have to deal with the crap these other generations have left for me."

I think that, in this culture, we are trained to believe that idealism, optimism, and hopefulness is the bailiwick of the young and the foolish.

I say: Fuck that.

For all progressives out there, regardless of age, who have swallowed the numbing drug of ennui/apathy/disenchantment, I want to say: "Buck up. Don't you recognize the screams of dying dinosaurs when you hear them? "

The people who want to drag us back to previous eras of oppression will not win the next election. They won't. They know it.

Isn't it time we know it?

Isn't it time that we stop acting like an entrenched, embattled minority, and step forward to act with the integrity and idealism that we want our government leaders to embody?

I want to encourage you to nurture your hope, your idealism, and your vision for the way the world can be -- to consciously feed this part of you, every day, as you would nourish a beloved child -- to vote, not for a candidate who is considered "electable", but for a candidate who actually represents your vision.

One of the things that I was painfully aware of during the 2000 and 2004 elections was this: Most progressives weren't really voting "for" anyone -- they were voting "against" someone.

Given what I understand of energy-dynamics, this simply isn't effective -- as the old saying goes: "Fighting for Peace is like Fucking for Birth-Control."

In my lifetime, I've witnessed: JFK's assassination, the Watts Riots, the Vietnam War, Watergate, Reagonomics, a major recession, several stock-market dips that everyone knew would destroy us, the First Gulf War, 9/11, the War in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq, etc., etc., etc..

In my lifetime, I've witnessed the vagaries of many economic and political cycles, and the surge and counter-surge of social movements that have changed the roles of people of color, women, and queers in daily life:

  • When I was six months old, the Supreme Court declared that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional. When I was five years old, JFK created the EEOC, but interracial marriage was still illegal in 16 states until I was 11.
  • When I started High School, all female students at my school were required to wear dresses to school. When I graduated High School, I was wearing patched blue-jeans and leather moccasins that I made myself.
  • When I came out to myself as a lesbian, Homosexuality was still listed as a mental illness in the DSM. Today, my alma-mater has an entire section on their website for LGBTQ resources.
I'm trying to say: Things do change. Things have changed.

I believe that they changed because individual human beings had the audacity to remain hopeful, idealistic, and alive -- that they practiced their integrity, and insisted upon their vision, and refused the easy out that is despair.

It doesn't matter how old, or how young, you are. It matters that you remain engaged.

The world that you want to live in is possible.

And if that strikes you as completely idealistic -- sappy -- wev -- then take a big old slug from Portly's Everlasting Jug of Possibility, and give up your fashionable pessimism, already.

The Awkward, Gangly Form of Hope

Hope is a teenager
who never learned to be cool,
or how to slouch with feigned indifference
against the lockers of my heart.

Instead, it drops its books
and stumbles into strangers --
pushes its glasses into place,
and proceeds to class despite all odds.

The popular kids may pass with derisive stares,
with skin-deep beauty that cannot hide their fear.
Hope just keeps gaffing its way along,
unfashionable, clumsy, embarrassingly authentic.
© Carol Steinel 2007

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:20 PM  


John said... December 28, 2007 at 3:42 PM  

This old hippie salutes you!

Anonymous said... December 30, 2007 at 8:27 AM  

Yes, I'll toast to that, with my best voignier! And, one recent event that demonstrated the idea that having a personal voice won't turn one's life into a sour battle, is the movie 'Across the Universe.' Engagement is everything!

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