Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Burning BranchesIt's been difficult for me to get excited about the Presidential elections. Maybe every activist gets burnt out after a while, it seems like I have been protesting something every day for the last 30 some years, in the 80's, it was urgent, many of my friends were dying of AIDS, in the 90's I was marching for equal employment rights for gay people, and the reversal of many statutes that could place people like myself in jail for things that we did in the privacy of our own bedroom. We made a difference, all of those years ago, we won some huge battles. After the election of George Bush, there were too many things to protest, and maybe I just became tired. Today, I feel like the problems that face our nation are so serious, that they cannot be solved by an election. The candidates will say the things they need to say to get elected, and surely anyone who tells the real truth has already been washed out in the primaries.
I worry about the strength of our citizens. When things are tough, as they are today, what decisions will we make? Gas prices are insane, placing a financial burden on all of us in some way, whether we drive or take the bus. People who live in coastal areas have always preferred not to have oil rigs on the horizon, but in the face of $5 dollar a gallon gas, as many of 74 percent of our citizens have changed their minds. Green is all good, as long as people don't have to take the bus, and it doesn't cost half of your income to drive to work. But it is not enough to want change, and go to vote, we must do the hard work of changing the way we live. The things we need to do to save the environment will be difficult, and change will not happen with lower gas prices. Change will happen when gas is $10 dollars a gallon, and people demand buses and commuter trains, electric cars, and solar bikes.
I spent the day doing some landscaping, cutting up fallen branches, and wondering whether it was better to saw them into pieces to go into a plastic bag, to end up in a landfill, or to burn them in the fire pit. After I ran out of plastic bags, the decision was made for me, and I started a fire that leaped five feet high, crackling and popping, and scaring the crap out of me. And maybe, that is what we need in a Presidential candidate, not some one who will say whatever they need to say to get elected, but who will start a fire in this country, burning the branches of old, rotting, dead wood, starting the fires of change that are long overdue.
There is nothing more important than this election. There is nothing more important than change. Now is the time we must do difficult things, and make hard decisions.
And hold our candidate's feet to the fire of those burning branches.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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