YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Why we fight
Welcome to my day to blog – Sunday. Ah, lazy Sunday, the last day of the weekend… Pay no attention to your calendar or to the fact that you’re at work and your colleagues are acting like it’s Monday morning. It’s just a bad dream.
Not buying it? Okay, so I’ve had some issues getting my post up by Sunday. Just consider me the late, late edition.
I’m Justice and I’m the Finance Chair of Young Dems. Unlike many of my young dem colleagues, I have no interest in a career in politics. I’m not doing this to improve my resume or to network with politicians. Nor am I suffering from a shocking lack of meetings so that I seek to fill the void with a weekly pilgrimage to Manuel’s in search of agendas and action items. Canvassing and phone banking actually rank very low on my list of preferred activities.
So, why do I keep investing my time, talent and money into this organization? I suppose I don’t know what else to do. Our president has a foreign policy with the sophistication of a country music song and he seems to have a personal vendetta against the planet. I hear true blue liberals like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman look back to the days of Nixon and Reagan with something bordering on nostalgia and I know times are bad. Accuse me of being melodramatic if you like, but in the last year we’ve watched an American city wash away while the president caught up on his rest; we’ve been drawn into battles over evolution, abortion, and civil rights that I thought were part of the permanent historical landscape; and we’ve watched him put his stamp on the supreme court that will ensure that his legacy is haunting us for a generation. Bush’s Bible thumping friends are turning our democracy into a theocracy and his big business friends are buying themselves an oligarchy. Now I’m hyperventilating.
How to cope with this panic attack that is the current American experience? I try and return to what I know to be true. First, take deep breaths, and then turn to my teachers, the ones that have gone before me. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Howard Zinn, Vaclev Havel, John Lewis. Those are the top people on my list. I’m sure you have your own. They tell me that change isn’t going to happen in one dramatic moment. Real and lasting change, the kind that liberates us and makes our communities better places to live in happens as the result of slow, patient and persistent work. Some of the work is glamorous, but most of it is not. It involves hitting the streets, going door to door, standing on street corners, writing letters, making phone calls, sitting in meetings. Rosa Parks didn’t just decide one day that she wasn’t going to give up her seat. She had been preparing for that act of civil disobedience through training workshops for months. She was part of a larger community that was building a movement. She certainly didn’t know that it would be her action that set off the civil rights movement.
I find inspiration in that unpredictability of history. None of those great people knew when, how or if big change was going to happen. They just plodded along, never letting those in power take away their voice.
So, I carry on with my meetings (My finance committee meets this Wednesday, 7 pm at JavaVino). I try to figure out a way to take off time from work to go to the next lobby day. I know I’ll even be talked into phone banking again this fall during the 2006 election. Along the way I continue to be inspired. Not just by famous people from the past, but by my fellow Young Dems. They pat me on the back and pass me a beer when I start to panic. Then they pass me a sign up sheet. I take a deep breath, take a gulp, and sign my name. This is a group that continues to show me how to have patience, faith, courage and even fun as we set the stage for what I hope will be a better future.