Aung San Sun Kyi, Nelson Mandella, Chief Joseph, Harvey Milk — teach us!
Revolution aint what it used to be.
Emma Goldman, Cesar Chavez, Leonard Peltier, Sojourner Truth –teach us! The President used the word “change” to stop it. The change we seek couldn’t be clearer, but it is mimicked by Presidents and corporate marketing. By the time we shout “Justice” we’re in a commercial selling underwear, perfume, votes…
Revolution aint got the same song. Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Public Enemy, Joe Strummer — please pull our songs into a new valley, a new union hall. The songs we thought would change everything become Muzak before they get to the elevator speakers. And the words. If we read the words in a library our reading room is privatized before turn we the page. We look down and logos cover our feet like leeches in the 18th century.
Che, Subcommandante Insurgente Marcos, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Judi Bari from Earth First — teach us! The change we seek is clear to the reactionaries too, and they discovered the disguise of scale. On the one hand they remove mountaintops and change the climate. So our citizenship is a slow state of shock. Then they go tiny, too. The corporations search for the DNA that makes us shop. They want to throw that switch. They look forward to the deletion of any mental dissent.
Walt Whitman, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King — please prepare us for the strangeness, the mystification of entrenched power. The killers hide in the air that we breathe and lurk in the dreams of our children. Where is the dirty coal executive? Where is the banker? Who do we push against? We swat at the pixels that buzz at our eyes like flies on the eyes of corpses. No, not corpses – consumers!
Could we be as brave as the heroes from revolutions past? We are facing a different foe. The powers-that-be are shape-shifting constantly. Consumerism and Militarism are so ambient, so plastic, so media-become-real. Resistance itself must be re-invented, in the sense that each of these heroes we’ve prayed to – each was a creator. Angela Davis‘ strategy for change was different than that of Bernadette Devlin, or the students in Tiananmen Square, or Toussaint L’ouverture.
Isn’t another name in revolution’s hall of fame — the Earth? We can pathologize all of these recent natural disasters as feverish seizures of a delirious planet. Then sometimes the earth seems coolly intelligent, as media-savvy as any video-taped underground movement – in its response to the poisoning from its human species.
Life on Earth — teach us! After all the heroes and martyrs and risings-up of the people, we sometimes feel as if we’ve gotten nowhere. The power of the corporations grows every hour and we don’t seem to have a response. You, the Earth where we live, you are responding. We sense that you are making your move, feverishly rising, interrupting, killing some of us and saving us all.