Revolution is a catharsis, an ecstasy which can only be prolonged by tyranny.
Ernest Hemingway, The Gambler, The Nun and the Radio.
One of my favorite quotes of all time. It is cynical, yet poetic. It makes me angry and sad and confused but most of all it triggers that tiny little impulse in my gut that makes me want to prove someone wrong. The kind that burns slowly until outrage sets in. But is one the greatest American writers wrong?
In elementary school way back when, we were given an assignment: to interview our grandparents about what it was like during the Great Depression. I had one grandparent left and during the Great Depression, her time was spent on the Texas/Mexico border far from the soup lines. Being poor was the norm not a time period in history. Suffice it to say, I bullshitted that assignment. But I wonder, will my grandkids ask me one day, “Hey Pop-Pop, what was it like to live during the era of Donald Trump?” I hope kids are still writing assignments and doing interviews instead of copy and pasting from whatever version of Wikipedia is available, or just asking Siri 90.0 in their eye lid to display the answers to them on the wall.
The caveat of this administration is that it has resurrected a fire in civic duty. Hell, maybe the education system will go back to actually teaching Civics. People now know who their congressman/woman is. People are marching. People are reading. Apathy has been given a giant adrenaline shot to the ass. Americans are realizing what Europeans have known for centuries is that freedom is not an entitlement, it must be fought for and preserved. I lived abroad for a time, and there was always some sort of protest or strike. Democracy is still an idea that must be nurtured through its infancy. It must be closely watched and nuzzled. It is precious. It is a whisper in the wind. This is what makes me proud. The spreading of action, the rise in political discourse, even if it is full of blasphemy and lies, people are still arguing and fighting. Americans are outraged, now channel it toward something good. If we’re lucky maybe the Kardashians will go away. Why? Because they are a direct product of boredom, apathy, and entitlement, and when unalienable Rights are on the line, they contribute to the distraction instead of furthering a constructive rhetoric to advance society as a whole.
Catharsis stems from Aristotle in the Poetics, comparing the effects of tragedy on the mind of a spectator to the effect of a psychological relief on the body.
The fear, the tragedy, the black whole in my heart, is that revolution is simply a release of tension, an orgasm, to be able to put up with inevitable tyranny. That’s the danger. Revolution is an orgasm. Fuck. A release of tension, that’s all? A cleansing that allows for the status quo to return. A hard rain of yelling and screaming, but when the sun shines again, it will be bright will capitalistic oppression and cultural submission. I hope not. Know what you are fighting for. Have a goal. See what the future should be and fight for it. Fighting without vision is to masquerade death as hope.
The cynic in me fears that this heightened sense of duty and fight for human rights is the two hour summer movie we go see to escape the 9 to 5. I fear that tyranny will pull a rope-a-dope and tire us out. To win, you fight for something, not just against the an opposing force. Force the enemy to react to us. George Foreman said it best, when after the fight with Ali that he knew he was done when he gave him his best punch and Ali didn’t go down. I do not think the best of us has been utilized, there is still plenty of ammunition. More than ever in my lifetime, groups are organizing and marching consistently. What if the protesters are the good guys and we are pulling a rope-a-dope... which would mean Trump is their best shot. Which honestly, I think is true. I think that Trump is the alt-right's best shot at claiming cultural and financial inequality, furthering racial divides, and lining their greedy pockets. I am hopeful that they have rested their hateful hats on an incompetent, wealthy neophyte who through his own track record, knows nothing but failure.
In this current climate, especially after this past weekend in Charlottesville, hate as a concept, has no ideology. Hate is blind destruction with no sense of construction. Hate cannot built or govern because it takes working together to accomplish anything. Love on the other hand, has a sense of unity, and most importantly it has the potential to build momentum. However, the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. The goal of love should be to recruit apathy not fight hate, and in turn will build a stronger coalition to overpower it. Again, have a goal, not just a foe.
Revolution should not be a release of tension, it should be a shift in the paradigm, a wave that reverberates throughout history. It is something my grandkids can take for granted... until they can't.