(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
I haven’t yet begun the cooking and family gatherings that are part of this holiday season. So I’ve had a little time to muse on the current state of liberalism as we wallow in this “no fly” zone between the election and inauguration.
A couple of comments today here at Docudharma got me thinking. The first was an exchange between Edger and Buhdy
Edger: It may not be quick or easy.
And is that any reason to not have some fun while we’re at it?
So the guy isn’t perfect. Not even close. He’s part of their team. Not ours. We knew that a long time ago.
But at least he’s not an asshole (like george was and is), as far as I can see.
I know all that sounds a little bit like the old GOS mantra of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, but it’s not… not quite.
Self leadership, really when it comes down to where the rubber hits the road, is really all we can do. Tearing our hair out because someone way up at the top of the pyramid doesn’t climb down into the gutter and rail away at all the injustices of life with us would only result in us having less hair, I guess.
Buhdy: It is MUCH harder to not have the clear stark black and white of Bush!
It really is up to us.
Edger: Well, you know, it’s a bit weird I think because we spent most of a good eight years try to stop the president from doing things that were making everything fall apart.
Now it’s a gear changing thing I guess, to trying to make the president DO stuff to keep things from falling apart?
Buhdy: zactly! We have to learn new skillz!
And next was something from Valtin’s essay.
Perhaps the disagreements elaborated herein are redolent of the old arguments of reform vs. revolution, or between stagist views of progress and change and those who see history as punctuated by qualitative leaps over old ways of thinking and doing.
Seems this is an age-old dilemma for progressives…reform vs. revolution. And if you’re like me, you’re struggling with it big-time right now. It wasn’t such a major question during these last 8 years. We could all coalesce around our rage at Bushco and our fight against everything he did and stood for.
But as Edger and Buhdy were talking about, now we have to change course and learn to utilize some different skills. But then the questions come…can I change course? how much cynicism is enough? what new skills? reform or revolution?
As I was thinking about all this, I read a diary at dkos by mka 193 titled Goodbye to My Old Friends of the Radical Left… She sent me to an essay by Tim Wise titled Enough of ‘Barbituate’ Left Cynicism (warning: never read anything by Tim Wise unless you’re ready for a few punches). Here’s his conclusion.
Or maybe it’s just that being a father, I have to temper my contempt for this system and its managers with hope. After all, as a dad (for me at least), it’s hard to look at my children every day and think, “Gee, it sucks that the world is so screwed up, and will probably end in a few years from resource exploitation…Oh well, I sure hope my daughters have a great day at school!”
Fatherhood hasn’t made me any less radical in my analysis or desire to see change. In fact, if anything, it has made me more so. I am as angry now as I’ve ever been about injustice, because I can see how it affects these children I helped to create, and for whom I am now responsible. But anger and cynicism do not make good dance partners. Anger without hope, without a certain faith in the capacity of we the people to change our world is a sickness unto death. It is consuming, like a flesh-eating disease, and whose first victim is human compassion. While I would never counsel too much confidence in far-right types to join the struggle for justice — and there, I think skepticism is well-warranted — if we can’t conjure at least a little optimism for the ability of liberals and Democrats to come along for the ride and to do the work, then what is the point? Under such a weighty and pessimistic load as this, life simply becomes unbearable. And if there is one thing we cannot afford to do now — especially now — it is to give up the will to live and to fight, another day.
And here’s mka 193’s conclusion.
I am of course angry at the persistent injustices that exist all around the world. Yet, I also need to hold on to my joy. I will continue to hold on to my skepticism without succumbing to cynicism. I want to help build an inclusive movement that embraces many different types of people and that invites people to bring their “FULL” selves to the table.
And all that reminded me of the inimitable Molly Ivins (sorry for the jerky video).
So, I guess this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for my hope mixed with skepticism and my anger mixed with joy. And I celebrate the humanity of that paradox!!!