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The view from here…

March 11, 2019

Okay, well, I have been working on three writing projects and taking a six week set of creative writing classes (they were a Christmas present), plus living through one of the coldest and cloudiest Chicago winters in recent memory, so my interest in blogging lagged.

So, I just sat and read and listened and watched.

If you step back for a moment, you’ll notice that the sand is eroding out from under the feet of our current set of half-wit political leaders – Trudeau, Trump, Macron, May, Morrison – the corporate vacuous puppet-queens who work at the behest of the neo-liberal aristocracy – the ages-old oligarchic egoists who glory in pure power – no matter the cost to people or the planet.

Image result for alexandria ocasio-cortez omar congress hearingsBut we also now watch as the new wave of quiet revolutionaries organize the grass-roots power – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Jody Wilson-Raybould and others – and we wonder: are they, finally, the true manifestation of political power the movements of the 1960’s forgot to truly organize; are they the progressive pro-science and justice last stand for the environment and for the masses who are rapidly being returned to serfdom; or are they the last great flourish before the collapse?

Image result for the sixth extinctionAfter our million year march out of the trees, through countless ice-ages, through the discovery of agriculture – the domestication of plant and animal – through the rise and fall of endless civilizations on a planet once large enough to sustain our cancerous approach to life and nature – can we appreciate, after a million years – that we are now rapidly advancing on an endtime? – an extinction of global proportions purely of our making? – that this may not be just any old last stand, but quite possibly the last stand?

Only our children really seem to appreciate what is at stake. Increasingly, around the world, high school students are on the march. A friend who works as a university counselor tells me that “environmental anxiety” is the fastest growing issue she has to deal with in her practice (especially with female university students).

The Future is all young people have to live for. The future is what sustains a young person’s sense of self, his or her sense of possibilities. We were no different, once.

The post-war baby boomers came of age knowing something was dreadfully wrong with western culture – race, power, gender, the environment – all of the paramount issues of today can trace their roots back to the protests of the 1950’s and 1960’s – but it was, for the most part a floundering movement, still too tied to earlier themes of patriarchy and white privilege, in the main too easily distracted by drugs and materialism – the majority of boomers easily bought off with the promise of high paying jobs, endless consumerism, the cottage by the lake.

As much as I despise the new minimalist aesthetic I see flourishing among young people, I understand where it is coming from. Consumption is killing us, killing the planet. We know we need to live with less. (Though, it is also about control of space, in a world rapidly uncontrollable. But that is a different story for a different day.)

The transition from being a political child to being a political adolescent is never easy. And then from adolescence to adulthood – an even harder transition.

There are many things I do not like about social media – but the rapid dissemination of information is not one of them. Increasingly, we are being forced to grow up – to understand (however reluctantly) that, if we are to survive, if we are to allow the planet to survive, fundamental things need to change.

And it will be the young smart women who will lead this transition – for they are the depositories of all that has gone wrong with the patriarchy. It should come as no surprise that the leaders of a true (perhaps last) renaissance in democracy will be smart young women of color, for they have been the last and least enfranchised recipients of all that is wrong in a patriarchy that values dominance above all else – they know best what is wrong, and what needs to be fixed.

Image result for dave eggers the monk of mokhaLast week at a Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali book launch and signing event, I got to talk with three young Muslim-American women who are law students at the University of Chicago. Each with their own story to tell – Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt – all three of them eager to fight for true democratic principles of equality, opportunity, civil rights. They were ferocious in their commentary on gender politics, American pop culture, environmentalism. With a wickedly dark sense of humor.

Over the past week I was also part of a team that judged Chicago area high school history projects, looking for that spark that would go on the state and national history competition.

Every project I reviewed (22 in total) – no matter the topic – had to deal with institutional racism and it’s impact on their topic – for this virus infects every aspect of Chicago’s and America’s history. All of the projects I reviewed, save two, were by young women and men of color.

America’s past and America’s future – glimpsed in the young people I talked to, both at the Egger’s event and in the national history competition. Young. Smart. Eager.

White, Black, Brown, Indigenous – all of them smart young women and men who say they are fighting to change the old system – our last and best hope at real change.

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