Jazz at Running Scared linked to Poor Impulse Control, and I swear I sat at my desk, speechless. If you knew me, that'd be shocking all on its own. Here's the date, you can guess at the time: I had nothing to say. I recalled something a friend said once, in the spirit of the Maurice Sendak book on manners for children "What Do You Say, Dear?"
Friend: What do you say, dear, when you're introduced to your daughter's boyfriend and he's three-foot-six?
Me: What do you say, dear?
Friend: You say, "Hello."
Hello. Jazz's intro for his readers - bless his buttons, he should have zillions - hinted that PIC is not a very political site. This was a second wave of "Huh?" I have driven friends, lovers, casual acquaintances, workmates, and family members crazy with my politics. Last summer, there was an online test of where the test taker falls on a political quadrant graph-whatsis. I fell slightly to the southwest of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., but for the most part, I am finished arguing politics in this lifetime. It's a big waste of time for me. Nobody learns anything, everyone gets a sore throat, terrible insults are exhanged. Tonight, Peter Jennings sent some lacky to two different counties in Illinois to talk to red and blue Americans, because it's not enough that nobody's listening but now people have to TELL YOU they're not listening. Result: I finally decided to make myself a sandwich and eat asparagus spears after an hour of being unable to decide how I should eat frozen carrots.
PIC talks about the political in everyday life. Walk lightly on the earth. Give away what you don't need. Make art, not unnecessary trips to the mall. Feed the hungry and house the homeless. Try to buy things that don't hurt other people. Refuse as much as you can to be a cog in the corporate machine. Refuse as much as you can to be the instrument used against your own best interests and the interests of people who have less than you do.
That said, our economic lives are tied so tightly to beating the crap out of poor people it's hard to live this way in a pure sense. I can't trace where my shoes came from, but I can limit the number of pairs I buy to a tidy minimum. It's my responsibility to provide for my old age, but I have little or no control over how the state pension plan invests the pittance I've saved. What I can do is refuse to shop at WalMart or eat Domino's Pizza, and never set foot in a Starbucks. It's not much, and it doesn't make my hands any cleaner than anyone else's, but compromises can be made in suburban life.
It's not that I serve as any shining example - I'm a rather matte example, at best. I am very concerned about the current administration's clear agenda of divide&conquer, and I can't help but feel that real evil is afoot. The rhetoric about gay marriage is a tool used to inspire fear and do genuine harm to a marginalized group, but it really harms everyone. Where fear clouds the conversation, fearful decisions will be made. No one benefits from this process. Anything that diminishes another person or group of people harms me and harms you.
Mine are the politics of mercy and I can always live more closely to my ideals. Plus, you know, I laugh at my own antics. My mistakes are everywhere; perhaps someday I'll learn from them.
Hello. It's just me. Hello, you.