Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I went to vote yesterday and it was easy. There was no line, I just walked right in, showed the nice ladies my ID, got my ballot, filled it out, received my sticker, and walked back out the door. It's not as good as at my last precinct which was held at an old folks home and the ladies there would give you baked treats and day-old bread from Publix, but still, pretty sweet.
It got me thinking about change, about Change, and about how a few years ago we rallied as a nation and went out and voted for Change and we did it, yes we did it, Yes We Did. Lately I've been hearing talk and grumbling about "Where is the Change?", as if people feel cheated, as if they thought they voted for a Superman and what they got was a man, just a man, and how could that be? I don't understand this. Or I do, I do in my heart, because I know that the grumbling and the rumbling start with people who never voted for the change at all, they just dress in sheep's clothes and start up the whispering of dissatisfaction and that whispering is a mighty tool in our country. People like to talk shit, they like to rail, they like to repeat things that sound cool and smart without really having to think about things, or come up with anything original. Sometimes it works for one side (Yes We Can) and sometimes it works for the other (Where's My Goddamned Change?) but for whomever and wherever it works, it does. It's a game of sides, and I am tired of the game but there it is.
We are a swiftly tilting boat on choppy water and whenever we list to one side everyone runs to the other, and then someone shouts a panic and we all move on back, and the whole time there are whispers that the Captain is to blame, but it is a boat, and will list, and will tilt, and if we were listening to the Captain we wouldn't be running back and forth to begin with.
Real Change doesn't come fast, we know that. We like to think it does. We want the Slim-Fast and then we want the Ultra Slim-Fast. We want American Idol, we want the magic bullet, the two weeks to whiter teeth, the rocket to stardom, the lottery ticket to make us instant millionaires, we want it, we want it fast, we want it now. We are told that it is not only possible, but it is The American Way. We want what we want without having to actually change anything we like at all. That is why we are not happy with our Captain right now. Change is slow, and we might have to compromise.
When I was at Heartwood Institute taking classes in acupressure and Chinese medicine, my teacher told us that it would not be easy to get our clients to change. He said that people are sick the way they are because of the lifestyles they lead, and they like these lifestyles or they wouldn't live like that. So much of what makes us sick is that which we enjoy. To be healthy one often must have a deep internal change before a physical one is possible. If you develop diabetes because you love cake, and you are given cake your whole life to make you feel better and to make you happy, you must learn to love more than cake. If you don't, you can still stop eating cake but you might grow to be irritable and discontent. Or you don't stop eating cake, and you lose a foot. It is that simple on paper but I don't mean to be insensitive. We are not simple beings, the things we love, the things that we are attached to are deep within us, and make us who we are. To change who we are is difficult indeed. Sometimes impossible. I think we can all recognize that.
So if we cannot stop eating cake to save our lives, why do we expect one man to change a nation as quickly as one may change his socks? We love our money, we love our things, we love our air conditioning and our very fast and big cars, we love to bitch and blame and whisper. We love to have our Own, and God bless the child whose got his own, but where does that leave the child without?
Chinese Medicine also taught me that you cannot separate the body to heal it. If your head hurts, rub your feet. They are connected, it is one body. We are starting to understand this in Western medicine as well. If you have a sore throat and you are given antibiotics, the doctor may tell you to take a probiotic to replenish the flora in your digestive system. A sore throat and a stuffy nose are far away from a colon or a vagina, but they are connected and they affect the whole. It is a marvelous and complicated thing, the body. So too is a nation. Far too complicated for me to figure out.
I see how poverty provides a breeding ground for desperation, which in turn creates an environment ripe for fear and violence. I see how well funded schools feed minds and health care protects bodies and these two things are essential in ensuring our people a way up and out of poverty. It is common sense and yet it does not pay out as fast as giving money to big business and funding oil companies and creating bigger and better weapons to protect our giant assets. To improve the health of our nation we would do right to invest in the health and wellness of our children. Which of course would take generations to see any return on said investment and by that time those of us sitting here now will be dead and we are really really loathe to make any sort of changes that may improve things after we die.
The very smart and the very rich know these things, but we don't listen to the very smart and it is not to the advantage of the very rich to acknowledge them. The very rich are also safe in that the big picture is far too big to grasp in a satisfactory way. The money that it would take, the man power and the changes it would take to truly and properly fix our nation's ills are so vast that the human mind simply cannot grok it. I am an average human being, not stupid, not brilliant, and my mind makes a strange shift and shimmy when I try to imagine that sort of magnitude. I don't know what to do.
So I vote. I vote for people who seem to have the people's best interests at heart. I vote for the people who have fine minds and some sort of soul, who see this nation as one body, and who want to make some healing happen.
The people who have made the greatest contributions to change for the better do not live to see the full manifestation of those changes, but they do it anyway. Because they care, because they are far thinkers, because they passionately believe in what is right. Even when great and fast changes have been made it takes a very long time for us to sink into them and feel them. President Lincoln didn't just say, "I'm going to kick it up a notch. BAM! I freed the slaves!" and then everything was equal. It took people time and time again to fight and pray and speak and march and die and new people to be born in a different world to make an even more different world and still it is not perfect. That change is still happening.
I voted for my President because he spoke of change, but also because he is smart. I voted for him because he loves his family so clearly, and therefore I know he is capable of love. I voted for him because he speaks of health before he speaks of wealth and because he stands tall and is proud in his body, as I hope he is proud of our nation. Because I am not a foot or a hand, but I am my whole body. And I am not one person, I am a family, I am a city, I am a nation.
It took us a very long time to get sick, and it may take us a very long time to get well, and I am sure as hell not going to damn the man who I believe is going to fight with all he's got to make us better. No matter how long it takes.


Ms. Moon said...

Well, this was as wise and beautiful as anything I've ever read. What more can I say?
I love you, my darling May.
I am in awe of your mind, your abilities, your heart, your love.

downtown guy said...

Years ago, I had a long conversation with Togi. He was angry and depressed because he felt that change wasn't coming quickly enough. He felt that he'd been fighting all his life and had little progress to show for it. I told him that I work for change and progress, but I don't expect to see it in my lifetime. He thought that sounded like a cop out, but to me that keeps me from getting disillusioned and giving up.

Anyway, yeah. What you said.

Mel said...

This is probably the most perceptive, wise and sane analysis of our society and political system I have ever read. There are so many flaws in our system, and such a narrow, short term mentality that I worry we will ever make true progress as a nation again. We are mired, it seems, in a complex muck of greed and ignorance, and I struggle to believe that any elected entity has the power or foresight or intelligence to change anything.
It's a ship, alright, hopefully not the Titanic. It's hard for the President to steer a vessel with a crew that's mutinous and a course undecided.
I voted for the same things you did - intelligence and heart and vision. I predict that in two years, the masses will be bitching again, wondering why this change didn't work for them either.
These are crazy times. Two steps forward, two steps back. At least we can celebrate the hard fought right to vote for minorities and women, right?
I keep hearing Lincoln's words in my head - a nation divided against itself cannot stand... looking at many of the election returns it seems we are split almost down the middle, with narrow margins deciding many races. Who are we, I wonder some days. Thank you for giving me something good to think about, for being so thoughtful and wise, for shining some light with your words.

Petit fleur said...

I couldn't agree more. What's even more infuriating is that the media seems to be conveniently forgetting to point out that yes, the change IS happening, but as you pointed out, not over night. sigh.

You rock May, and I feel better just reading your words and being reminded there are more of us out there that feel this way.

PS love the title and the bit about the cake and the foot! So true!

Steph(anie) said...

I second Mel's first sentence.

May said...

Mama- Thank you my love! I think it's funny that we both wrote pretty much similar things today. Election thoughts. It was so good to hear your voice this morning! We should go to a movie next week. Let's make it happen. That is one thing we can do.

DTG- Oh Togi, I love him so much. It is easy to get disillusioned, but the more I thought about it this morning the more I clearly saw how people never see the affect they have on the world. All the people who got arrested to sit at lunch counters, or to love the ones they love, they were each one person in one moment in time. Did it make their lives better? No, it probably made their lives pretty shitty actually, but it makes our lives better. We would be letting them down if we gave up so easily.
Now I'm just repeating myself really, but I'm glad that you feel that way, about things taking time. You fighting the good fight and standing up for what you believe in and loyalty and the fair and equal treatment of others continually opens my eyes and inspires me. And all those around you.

Mel- Thank you for your thoughtful words. You feel it too, and think about it, and it's good to know that there are like minded people. In a way, the tossing back and forth of power is a sort of checks and balances system unto itself. As frustrating as it is that progress is so slow, at least it's not getting as fucked up as fast as it could be either.

Petit Fleur-Hey Lady-Love! One thing about the media is that now, more than ever, we can make our own words heard if we so choose. Slow and steady doesn't sell papers, but we don't need to sell papers you and I. As always, thank you for coming by. Love to you and yours.

Steph- I love you, girl.

Mwa said...

Hear, hear! Not even my elections, but you are absolutely right.

And that's a very funny picture.

Jo said...

Good work, May.

Bethany said...

Brilliant, wise, right on, passionate, you and this post. Wow.

kario said...

I love finding things like this out here in cyberspace because it reminds me to look outside of my own insular world from time to time and take heart that there are so many others out there that feel the same way. The boat analogy really spoke to me because it happens every day in my house with my kids and as a parent, I have to remember that we're gonna rock a bit and that's part of the learning and the fun. What's important is to remember that we're all in the boat together and it's going to take all of us to keep it upright.

Thanks so much for your wise words.

Tanya Ward Goodman said...

Wow. Followed my dear Elizabeth's advice and came to read your words. So glad I did. Hooray and thank you.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

You amaze me. I just wrote your Mama that I believe you have a truly beautiful mind. You surely do.

When I get really disgusted with most of the people in this country, you are your family make me feel so much better about life and things. I am so glad that all of you exist.

I love you dearly.


May said...

Mwa- Thank you! And I liked the picture too.

Jo- Thank you!

Bethany- You and your words are too sweet, you know.

kario- Thank you for coming by! I often feel like I am on a boat. It's important to have a good crew. I know what you mean about finding like-minded people. There's so much media attention to the negative, because that is what makes good story, that sometimes we feel very alone in our convictions. It's good to remember we aren't. I'll have to wander over to your blog and do some exploring. Thank you again.

Tanya Ward Goodman- Isn't Elizabeth marvelous? And isn't she dear? Thank you for coming by and for your sweet words.

SB- You make me so happy. You are just written all over my heart, you know. Thank you so much.

SJ said...

I feel almost guilty for reading your words, and knowing they are only for us---I want to share your writing with the world :)

I do love you. Am always thinking of you.

Elisabeth said...

I'm here through Elizabeth Aquino's blog. She quotes you there. Such beautifully expressed and clear sentiments, yours and hers. I can only agree with you both. Change for the better takes time.

Even from faraway here in Australia there are many who resonate with your thoughts and who are shocked at the rumblings of conservatism and the mud throwing that goes on in resistance to change.

It's good to meet you here.

michelle said...

this is awesome and brilliant, may

going back to read it again


Kaylen said...

Egads, this is brilliant. I hope someday I can write something as clear, concise and as meaningful as this. Much respect and props to you for saying it straight and in such an eloquent and honest way.

erobell said...

This post was what I needed to remember that there are wonderfully passionate and INTELLIGENT people left in the world!!

I know that change will come but we are dealing with such a broken world -

Your writing is beautiful, smart, witty and DEAD ON!!!

Love the pic - love the post - I am a new fan of you!!!

Danielle said...

ah..that is a wonderful piece of work you have written here...

so articulted in the best way possible...

it makes me sad to see how the americans arent so satiesfied with obama anymore...i think he is a smart and wonderful caring man...

and, i too, think that real change need its time....