And let me give you a little depressive realism here. You know about depressive realism, right, depression has a fun little party trick where mostly it lies and lies to you about yourself and everything and how you are a loser and everything is awful but in one respect it tells the truth? There's evidence that depressives tend to more accurately estimate their level of control over external events that they have no control over? Y'all, go ahead and accurately estimate that "ordinary Americans have virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country." I mean, you know it, I know it. rosefox was saying the other day that they've been futilely protesting US involvement in the Middle East for 24 years. It is wasted time. I don't go to marches anymore. Right here, right now, they have no effect. I marched on Washington for abortion rights, I marched in my city against war in the Middle East, I wasted my time. With power comes responsibility. What that means to me is that I have to learn where I do have power and where I don't. And I need to focus my actions on where I have power.
Like for example, "staying informed" is an amorphous concept that sounds righteous and important but, really, being informed changes nothing unless I do something with the information. There's stuff I'm never going to do anything about, because I can't. I have no power over a kid being bullied by her school system over on the east coast somewhere, to take one example of something I was exhorted to care about by Tumblr this week. Look, I am sorry about that kid, but it would be creepy and wrong if a random person on the other coast had the power to significantly change her schooling experience based on information off of Tumblr, and in fact it is not the case. I have no power there. So it's not my responsibility. It's not important for me to be informed of that. On the other hand, it is important for me to inform myself of the way the police work in my country and in my city to the point that I finally, finally, really internalize that I should never call the cops again unless I am prepared for someone to die. And not necessarily someone in the situation that I wanna call the cops about. Maybe some random dude five miles away who fits a ~profile~. And I am so embarrassed that this took me so long to realize. And I am scared because the next time I hear slight thuds and a crying woman begging her boyfriend to stop hitting her, underneath my window, I can't call the cops. What am I going to do? I'm going to have to go down there and talk to them myself, and I don't want to, and probably that's what I always should have done, and I don't want to. And the next time I see thick black smoke coming from a van parked under an underpass downtown at 1 A.M., I'm not fucking going into that situation myself - so what am I going to do? Will someone die if I call the cops, or if I don't? This sucks, but it is about my actions, so it is my responsibility.
And of course this also sucks because it is limited to my individual power, to my individual actions. So neoliberal, right? I want to believe that people would be stronger if we acted collectively but maybe Ferguson is putting the lie to that. See this post: "if they can lie to us to our face and us KNOW the truth, what power do we have , then?"
Well…not a lot. And - didn't we know this already? Why didn't we know this? This isn't new, right, the people in power lying to the people without, and us know they're lying, and they know we know they're lying, and they don't have to give a shit, isn't new? I've been reading The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, about the AIDS crisis and its aftermath, and that's just the 1980s. Not even that long ago, don't we remember how the government let a gay generation die before Ronald Reagan would say the word "AIDS", let alone put some damn money into the problem? Schulman writes that ACT UP forced the government to finally take AIDS seriously as a public health menace, but….how? I know a little bit about ACT UP and its actions, but…. how do these demonstrations force people with power to do things differently? Do they? I've been reading about this, I've been listening to Revolutions - which is a great podcast by the way - I've been trying to learn how, fundamentally, people convince other people to do things. How people get other people to stop doing one thing and do something different. I swear this is a huge flaw in my education, this is a place where we have been let down. I should know this and I don't and I don't even know how to find out.