Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Security Blanket of Radicals and Revolution

Out of frustration of my own limited talent and experience, I am seeking the comfort of one my literary security blankets; Rules for Radicals. Though I have several that I often depend on -- anything Langston Hughes and Alice Walker, A River Runs Through It, To Kill A Mockingbird to name a few. On my trip into the city today, I began my 3rd reading of Rules for Radicals, though I often re-read highlighted passages when the need arises.

I'm at a bit of struggle on a couple fronts, but mostly the oil spill and its impacts to both the people of the gulf and the slow process of galvanizing support for the inevitable switch to cleaner energy. I am balancing in an odd position in which I don't believe I've found myself in before. In all my arguments with my friends and family over my beliefs, I never felt that I was challenging more than their intellectual understanding of an issue, but the ban on offshore drilling is a completely different animal. I am now challenging the identity of some of my family members. The very things that they wake up each morning to do and speak about and think about and provides them the resources to do the things they love.

I am confused. I am frustrated. I don't know the right answer or the right things to say or how to appropriately express love for the Blanchard identity and the need for revolution at the same time. And so I am seeking comfort in my literary security blankets.

pg: xix
"As an organizer I start from where the world is, as it is, not as I would like it to be. That we accept the world as it is does not in any sesnse weaken our desire to change it into what we believe it should be -- it is necessary to begin where the world is if we are going to change it to what we think it should be."

"If the real radical finds that having long hair sets up pyschological barriers to communication and organization, he cuts his hair. If I were organizing in an orthodox Jewish community I would not walk in there eating a ham sandwich, unless I wanted to be rejected so I could have an excuse to cop out."

"Dostoevski said that taking a new step is what people fear most. Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future."

This last statement is where I stand still with a pregnant pause. Because if the people of the gulf right now, after Katrina, after Rita, after the recession, after 79 days of gushing oil into their homes, don't feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost that they still can't imagine a different economy, a different way of life where those working on the rigs, working in the offices of the oil and gas companies are part of the solutions to climate change, that the people like me, who ask if not this, then what, are the enemy to their family's happiness, then where are we in this battle, in this revolution?

What have we accomplished at all in the discussion of climate change?

From where I stand the primary, most vocal advocates for change, for revolution are still the highly educated, the upper-middle class, the whites at the desks of the big enviros taking pictures and telling everyone else caught in the middle of their mortgage payments and their fear and the reality that this is all real, that we must find an answer today, that your mortgage payment is not the priority, that you are not more important than this Take Action email.

There are so many people who have been hanging on day to day that now will probably lose the last bit that they have because we have been so busy sitting at hip restaurants in Copenhagen polishing our rhetoric that we haven't gone to Broussard, Louisiana to hold a community meeting and ask the Blanchards to be part of finding the solution.

pg xxi:
"To asume that a political revolution can survive without the supporting base of a popular reformation is to ask for the impossible in politics."

pg: 19:
"Between the Haves and the Have-Nots are the Have-a-Little, Want Mores - the middle class. Torn between upholding the status quo to protect the little they have, yet wanting change so they can get more, they become split personalities. They could be described as social, economic, and political schizoids. Generally, they seek the safe way, where they can profit by change and yet not risk losing the little they have. . . . Thermopolitically they are tepid and rooted in inertia."

"Yet in the conflicting interest and contradictions within the Have-a-Little, Want Mores is the genesis of creativity. Out of this class have come, with few exceptions, the great world leaders of change. . . "

I find comfort in reading about and hearing about the radicals and revolutions that came before me. Because then I remember that revolution is possible. Though I still don't know what to say to my uncles and cousins who can't imagine who they are without the Gulf and the rigs.

Renee Claire

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