Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hope in a Time of Politics

Hope is everywhere... if you have the eyes for it. 

But also, the opposite.

The world, you see, is full of shit. 
Not crap, or poop, or excrement. 

Shit. 

The most noisily obvious example of this right now is I guess this whole presidential-campaign mess. Hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars spent on lies and counter-lies, all orchestrated to create a white-noise, placebo, wagons-circling clustercuss. All so no one will notice an oligarchy of billionaires with minds laser-locked on profit margins, wiggling its fingers inside velvet puppeteer gloves as we jump to help them do what power has always done: crush the weak and powerless in an insatiable lust for more-more-more. Enabling the hand that tugs our fear-strings until we are just one good, six-month famine from an honest-to-God totalitarian regime right here in America, where of course We the Sheeple delude ourselves into thinking we're immune. 

Because of what? The Constitution? Iphones?

Puhh-leeeze.

Tedonald Crump, in da flesh
Our Republican front-runners are two demonstrably lying, conniving, unkind, cruel, narcissistic power-lusters who bring out the worst in their followers, with barely-toned-down rhetoric that'd seem perfectly fitting in Nazi Germany.

You could probably make the argument that these guys are certifiably psychopathic.

And the worst of it is, one of them has the full-throated support of about half the people in this country claiming to be evangelical Christians. These are my very own Facebook friends—so, like, bosom buddies—and no matter how I mental-yoga this thing, I cannot figure out how they can reconcile the vile putrescence coming off that stump with the Jesus I know, the power-eschewing Lord of the Upside-Down Kingdom. 

Leading the pack on the other side we have Hillary Clinton, a status-quotitian like any other who is just as in the pocket of the billionaires as the rest of them.

Undoubtedly a much less embarrassing choice for the country than the monstrous Tedonald Crump, she's still gonna keep things rolling along the way they've been going, setting the stage for the next Tea-Party Psychopath to come along waving his/her gun in our faces. 

And Bernie Sanders, who at least wants to tell some truth and play nice and also disrupt the corrupt system, is apparently not a good choice because not enough of us young'ns are invested enough to vote in the general election, which means that a nomination for him means a psychopath in the White House when he loses. 

So when we're asked, "What can we do against such reckless hate?" we answer, "Curl up in a ball and watch television." 

But even if we threw down our remotes, picked up our candles, and dared to be idealistic, where would it get us? Obama was an idealist, but a pragmatic one. So when the opposition made it their number one goal to just thwart him and thwart him some more, he compromised. He drone-bombed children. He left people to rot in Guantanamo. He did only what he could, which wasn't enough. Which didn't believe or hope enough because it wasn't willing to take the only truly radical step we have available to us—a step toward humility, and the self-sacrifice that humility demands. 

A humility that doesn't stand up and pander on about American Exceptionalism, but rather humbly OWNS the nasty shit that's been done in our name and with our tacit blessing and says ENOUGH. 

No more.

  • No more will we accept  that the price of our comfort is other people's suffering. 
  • No more will we accept that this jewel of a planet exists only to be raped for profit.
  • No more will we accept the racism and political expediency of incarcerating a huge proportion of our minority population.
  • No more will we accept the demonstrably useless chimera of retributive justice of any kind.
  • No more will we accept that our convenience is more important than an ocean free of plastic. 
  • No more will we accept our political leaders' implicit argument that we are nothing more than our worst tendencies: our fear, our racism, our selfishness, and our callous indifference to the suffering of anybody not part of our insular little tribe.
  • No more will we accept that to win, we must demonize anyone who disagrees with us.
  • No more will we accept that kindness is weakness, gentleness is cowardice, and generosity is gullibility. 

But who am I kidding, the cynic inside me asks?

It doesn't matter who the President of the United States is, because the President of the United States is just a figurehead-puppet for the powers and principalities of this dark world.

The True Darkness is something that lives deep down inside of ME. 

  • Me, a person who hates plastic but is willing to buy a little of it here and there, when it seems absolutely necessary (in order to have that thing I really, really want).
  • Me, a person who hates the factory-farming of animals, but will still sometimes eat their flesh, no questions asked.
  • Me, a person who pretends to be vehemently against the out-grouping of those-I-disagree-with, but who calls them sheeple in my mind and isn't above a little Facebook-mockery.
  • Me, a person who claims to hate War-for-Oil and earth-raping of all kinds, but who gleefully and blithely takes advantage of petroleum-based roads and a petroleum-based lifestyle. Who is so afraid of other people's opinions that he's considering going back and taking the word "shit" out of this piece, and maybe even deleting the whole thing because Oh-My-Garsh, what if someone figures out that I actually have strong opinions on controversial stuff like War and Factory Farming and Abortion and Basically Everything? What if that affects my career?
  • Me, a person probably willing to sacrifice those strong opinions if it's what it takes to enter a film-making industry that in so many ways exists as a desperate glorification of power, wealth, and selfish vapidity.

I have seen into the heart of the darkness, and that heart is ME.

So where is hope in all of this? 
Where does our help come from? 

Our help comes from the very place that the Jesus I mentioned earlier said it comes from.

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

That last bit, there. The bit about people falsely saying all kinds of evil against us because we do identify with the Real Jesus, the one who sides with the poor and powerless. That part gets to me, because so many of the conniving lies are coming so hard and fast from people who are yelling that Jesus made them do it. And that sucks.

Where is the hope? Is it among the powerful, white, evangelical Christians?

No. 

If you want to find hope, look for it among the hopeless.

Look for it among the powerless and the weak and the kind and the mourning and the merciful, who are basically all the things that white, college-educated jerks like me cannot be... UNLESS we are willing to get humbly down on our knees, ask forgiveness, and put our identity where Jesus himself put it. 

Bit of a screed, this. 

And I know it sounds like I'm angry and judgmental and all that, but you know what prompted it? A music video. I watched the music video for Leon Bridges' song "River" this morning. And in its lyrical portrayal of the suffering and hopelessness and then, yes, the HOPE of our black family, I found my own hope. 

I thought of all the ways that Power has attempted to stifle that particular Voice of Hope and I cried

I cried because I thought, maybe we're not all doomed.

If the black community in this country can take such an endless, cruel beating and still hold up a hand in longing, exuberant, even joyous hope... then maybe I can, too. 

LEON BRIDGES - River from Miles Jay on Vimeo.

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