Hope and inspiration.


I’m feeling good today. Inspired even. I’ve got a Boulevards Alive meeting tomorrow night, and I’ve been thinking about local community organizing all day. As depressing as Eaarth starts out, I’m just getting to the end and McKibben’s prescription for the future is as hopeful as any I’ve come across: small scale farming, close-knit communities, sane use of technology, an end to energy dependence.

And I’m thinking also about how I broke my writer’s block this morning, after several days of frustration in front of the screen typing the beginnings of various things only to discard them one by one. I decided to come look at my blog and draw something from the past to edit-up… but instead I caught on the 100 things I live for (up above, in the tab) and chose one of those to write a poem about instead (“rescued flowers from a dumpster”). This exercise not only gave me an image and some words to work with, but I felt good recounting where that came from and so nice agitated that now I want to write the other 99 thoughts into verse.

Remarkable isn’t it? The happier, the more hopeful I am, the more productive. Which sortof runs counter to all the subculture I’ve come out of. The outsider culture, the place that said “I’m going to be happy to spite everything!” but never quite made it there, the anger response trained into me. Hard habits to break, but essential to avoiding burnout. Anger and alienation may be a part of where I come from as an activist, but increasingly over the years they have been less and less a motivating factor for me. These days, I gotta admit, I practically leave the room at the first sign of them in political organizing meetings because they feel like such counterproductive states to be making change from.

Many years ago I adopted this Raymond Williams quote as my email signature line: “To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing” and I still invoke that saying a lot. Perhaps now more than ever because it is so easy to get caught up in the bleakness of a world balanced on an ecological precipice, the landscape burning while world financiers fiddle with our very last chances. I mean, if you want to be depressed and angry – there is certainly a whole lot to be depressed and angry about! But if I stay there too long, I can’t believe there is any possibility of making change so why bother? Why not just indulge myself in tropical holidays and plastic gadgets and forget all the hard work of meetings and organizing and trying to make a little change here and there? Without a little hope, and happiness, and joy and dancing and good giggly neighbours and amazing moments of beauty and cuddling with my sweety…. well there wouldn’t be any point would there? It’s really all that good stuff that makes me excited about extending the health of the planet, that gets me moving on the streets for workers rights….. That I believe not only we *can* make change, but it can be uplifting to do so.

I guess I’m thinking of all this because in the wake of the G/20 we’re back at finger-pointing and name-calling and the notion that if 100 people can’t smash things it’s not a serious demo… and wow is that ever tiring. And not inspiring. 20,000 people in the street? That’s amazing. Several hundred of those people breaking off to challenge the police securifying the G/20 leaders? Yeah, totally go for it! 150 boys smashing store windows and jumping up and down on cop cars?….. Meh. And the infighting afterwards is a total bummer.

The older I get, the more entrenched my belief in the need for change becomes, but the weaker my resolve in making it. Mostly because of my scars, and my aches. My lost comrades and the dark places I’ve been. They wear on you after awhile – and it takes a lot of communal dinners, drinks with friends, gardens, music, art, and love to make that energy to keep going up. So much so, I don’t want to give any of it away to infighting. I don’t want to give it away for someone else’s pain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: