Monday, March 11, 2013

When The World Sucks, I Remember This

Photo by Justin Ormont, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

When the world seems to suck and it seems like nothing will ever get better, I remember this bit of wisdom:

"The responses are never adequate, until they build and build and something changes. People very often think that there must be some magical tactic, beyond the traditional ones–protests, demonstrations, vigils, civil disobedience–but there is no magical panacea, only persistence in continuing and escalating the usual tactics of protest and resistance. The end of the Vietnam War did not come because the Left suddenly did something new and dramatic, but because all of the actions built up over time."

- Howard Zinn 

...and I remember that it is true, absolutely true. I also remember all the things that are better now, all the things that have gotten better because human beings decided they needed to be changed and did it. I remember that there are now fewer people dying in wars than ever before. I remember that good stories, once thought to only be sources of escapism and entertainment, are uniting people worldwide in social justice movements.  Because the world is shrinking, because we're all talking to each other, because we're telling the same stories together.
I remember that while racism is still very much a thing, it's still a very big deal in the course of human history that we're accepting the notion that it's a bad thing and a false thing. I remember that the internet has changed the face of social conversation and media and of who gets to participate in it. I remember that most of my friends now know what the Bechdel Test is and I remember that there are more women in the US congress now than ever before. 

I remember that the face of news has changed and that where once, we had only a scant few publication-approved letters to the editor to express public commentary, we now have reader comments and conversations on every news article we see. We're improving how we view the news, and terms like "confirmation bias" are becoming commonplace as we address not only information, but how we think about things.

I remember that we've passed the tipping point for same-sex marriage - it is totally going to be the norm in this country within the next ten years...and I contrast this to when I was 15 years old in the 90s and didn't even know that anyone could be openly gay.

I remember that people in the US are starting to realize that the rest of the world exists, that we're comparing our civilization with other first-world countries and talking about how things could be different. I remember that war hasn't been popular since we started to see it broadcast on TV and that we joke about our "first world problems."  I remember that, even though it pisses people off, we talk about privilege.

I remember that even though we may tend to obsess over what's wrong with the world, we do that because it still shocks us, still bothers us, still preoccupies us. I remember that human beings are, above all, social creatures, and that when we talk, when we argue, when we insist and repeat and pressure and listen and face each other, things do change.

And I remember that it's 2013 and right now, it's insanely easy for me to remind people of all of this.

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