Hope, can it stop action?

The other day Felcia Montes a homegirl of mine posted on her FB that we got kids marching to keep their sub par education funded, college students on hunger strikes, yet we all are just tweeting and IMing each other. Where is the anger?

It reminded me of my students who got two jobs to pay for school and how it will cost more next semester; about the ones that dropped out to work and help save their family home; about the bank VP who worked 25 years at the same bank who one morning got a phone call telling her she was fired, her 401k was worthless and that there would be no severance check; about the fathers who killed their families and themselves when their economic stability crumbled; about the empty stores; empty promises and on and on…

Yesterday it was announced that all LACCD campuses will cut all Summer classes that start after July 1st. Random just told me his homies are scrambling because they needed one or two more to transfer.

So my theory is that we aren’t in the streets because we have been HOPE-tified into submission. The Obama machine got us all hoping that things will and are changing. We overflowed with joy over one Latina on the Supreme Court, who BTW did anyone really check if she is down for the gente or just a brown face like Alberto what’s his name, who tows the status quo line?

Anyway what do you think? We are still at war; we are not seeing any improvements other than superficial gifts; no jobs; no education; no health; no environment; no justice; no humanity; nada. Are we just HOPE-ing ourselves to stay inside and type like this?

Why aren’t we angry?
If we are angry, how can we show it?
Has HOPE stifled action?

9 thoughts on “Hope, can it stop action?

  1. people aren’t angry because like you said, “students who got two jobs to pay for school and how it will cost more next semester; about the ones that dropped out to work and help save their family home; about the bank VP who worked 25 years at the same bank who one morning got a phone call telling her she was fired, her 401k was worthless and that there would be no severance check.” At the same time the governor is planning on cutting out cal grants, EOPS, health care and other services that students and their families depend on.

    People are caught up trying to get their lives back together that there’s no time or room to be angry. I always hear talk about how things use to be different back in the day and who today’s youth doesn’t hold a candle to them. I’ve met amazing people who have taken up causes and brought them national attention, but those are a select few because the majority of students are all talk. My experience has shown me that most are too caught up in their own stuff, which is understandable, but their stuff is about getting a nice car, looking good, having a paying job and having that arm candy on the side.

    I’m not about that. Never have, never will and when I started getting away from that, I started meeting like minded individuals who don’t talk about doing shit, they do it.

    Now more than ever do people need to wake up and realize that HOPING for things to change for the better is an illusion. We have to put our money where our mouth is and do whatever we can, whether it’s calling people up or just spreading the word online like this blog.

  2. I was thinking that maybe the youth are just slow to joining our online blogging revolution! LOL. In all seriousness, the point is a good one. Web 2.0. At one time the internet was a place for information and communication. It’s now transcended into sort of an online bar, or row of slot machines. A lot of us are just spending all of our time here commiserating over things we think we can influence with the power of the “submit comment” button. But not me. I’m just speaking my mind… 🙂 And what can I really do out there on the street, anyway? Too much traffic.

    This is why the youth have no respect for us. Comedian George Carlin hinted at this just before he kicked the bucket. Adults are not entitled to respect from children. They have to earn it, just like everyone else in any other situation. They have to lead by example. But as it stands, kids are doing the leading.

    You talk about change and Barack Obama, and sort of chalk it up to internet fantasizing. But what really got him elected was the youth turnout (not to mention the worst president in the post slavery era preceding him). While adults were complaining about Bush and checking the polls to see if Obama could really pull it off, and growing with glee by the day as they realized he would, young adults and teenagers were stumping the phone lines, calling people in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and other swing states that could have been close. They were showing up to Obama rallies in droves. Only the hippies and activists were showing up to see Gore and Kerry. So, in a way, it’s a two way street. Obama brought out the youth vote, the youth vote answered the call, and us adults are taking all of the credit for it. We all deserve to have a teenager punch us in the face and run off while their friends film it.

  3. I’ll tell you what, P3K, talking about being angry, toeing the status quo line, and stifling action:

    I was furious when the cops beat everybody up at MacArthur Park on May Day ’07, and I was furious afterward when so-called “progressive” people and organizations sided with the cops and condescendingly blamed the “anarchists” and other “unruly” youth (and yet, later filed a class-action lawsuit against the LAPD–you can’t have it both ways, CHIRLA).

    I was furious with certain administration officials and professors who run the program where I just graduated, when they treated the graduate students like shit, and I was furious when certain other professors in that same program sided with administration and joined them in their condescending dismissal and ignoring of student demands and challenges, even though those professors were also being exploited by the same system.

    My point:
    Maybe people aren’t in the streets because they’re not unified. And maybe they’re not unified because reactionary, reformist elements have been so busy trying to desperately hold onto their own little slice of the pie all along that they’ve consistently sided with the forces of oppression whenever anyone tries to unify and challenge those forces, and have joined in on shitting on those challengers out of fear of losing their own little mordida, and have thus helped to maintain the climate of fear and control and isolation instead of joining to help fight it.

    (“Come on guys, why are you rocking the boat? Don’t you know you’ve got to play the game? Stop complaining. Stop challenging stuff. Hey, this is an institution, that’s just the way it is, you’ve got to play along…” etc.)

    But now that they are seeing their own little squirt of teta being taken away too, all of sudden they turn around and start pointing fingers at everybody else, “why aren’t we in the streets? why aren’t we angry?”

    Mass action requires unification. Unification requires loyalty and trust to break down the mass hypnosis of fear fear fear that is pounded into our heads day and night. Loyalty and trust are things that we must make conscious choices to contribute to building up over time, and then we must act on those choices, because we live in a system that is perpetually conditioning us unconsciously toward disloyalty and distrust, alienation, individualism, and fragmentation.

    In other words, if we want to see real change, then we’ve got to POR FIN start getting each other’s backs–instead of consistently stabbing them out of greed, self-interest, petty little power plays, ego trips.

    We have not been “hope-ified.” We’ve been paralyzed into a position of fear and inaction through a concerted, highly sophisticated, systematic psychological operation.

    This operation strips us of an accurate understanding of history, context, or sense that we have the ability to do something about our situation or to act in concert with others outside of our small bubbles of isolated existence.

    And that concerted effort has been mounted and implemented not just by those in a dominant position, but by those “buffers” who identify with, and help to protect, that dominant position, in return for small rewards, favors, and privileges.

    I’m one of those community college folks facing a job cut. But that doesn’t even really hurt me that much, I know I’ll figure something out. What really gets to me is that I love my students. They are the bomb! And they are the ones being hurt the most by all of this. And they are the ones that I identify my own interests with the most, NOT with administrators or even other instructors.

    And if you think that they–“we”–are not angry and hurt, and not doing (or haven’t BEEN doing) something about it, well, then I think you might want to take a second look. Maybe some of us don’t fully realize the source of the anger and hurt, but it’s most definitely there, and maybe it doesn’t always seem like people are “doing” something about it, but in reality, it ALWAYS manifests in myriad ways, often self-destructive or internally directed (or rather, intentionally MIS-directed away from those in power, BY those in power–and by those who identify with them).

    So, I feel that it’s my job to help my students to clarify and understand these sources of anger and pain, and to do something constructive about it.

    So I’m using my time in class as effectively and efficiently as possible (because I know with all these budget cuts how limited that time may be, and how privileged my position is at this moment), in order to provide context, understanding, and a solid basis for building and then implementing plans of action–a foundation that both contributes to, and helps to prepare for, the moment when critical mass is reached.

    That’s what I’m doing about it right now at this moment. That’s what I’m doing with my anger right now.

    And I’m also taking note, all along the way, of who’s really got my back, and who’s too weak to have ANYbody’s back. Who’s strong enough to count on as more and more shit hits the fan, and whose weakness would sell me out in a moment of truth. And meanwhile, constantly trying to address my own weaknesses, and develop my own strengths, so that I can be solid for others too.

    (The irony: All the time it took me to write up this shit here, instead of just doing it, like all those millions out there who are too busy doing right now to theorize and write like this. I guess that’s your point, right??? Back to work.)

  4. “Hope is the leash that ties us to our own submission.”
    Thanks for this post Pachuco!

    Oh yeah, one more thing…I heard this economist on NPR who said most of those in power are pretty secure that the American people won’t really rise up about much despite their displeasure with actions like the bank/financial institutions that were bailed out. He said “it’s not in our culture.” Hmmm, so they are counting on getting away with everything…
    While there may not be organized, planned opposition groups (like in Mexico and Europe), cities like Los Angeles are known for and can be depended on for our “eruptions.”

  5. Thank you, Pachuco, for asking the question—I’ve been wondering what it takes for us to become angry for ages…

    At work, I talk to people every day who are being evicted from their homes because they can’t afford to pay rent anymore, many of them single mothers who for years paid rent for the privilege of living in an illegally (and unsafely) converted garage. Where do they go? I don’t know—my job is to explain the eviction process as soon as they wipe the tears away and listen (they have a right to a 3-day notice and then a hearing, for which I recommend they hire a lawyer for a few hundred dollars.) The other day, a man’s brave smile turned into a frown as he broke into sobs, telling me he had never felt so helpless before. I gave him the number to a shelter for men, which has a waiting list. His wife and kids may add their names to the waiting list at a women and children’s shelter across town.

    Indeed, when do we get angry enough to start taking action? I agree with almost everything written above, except one thing, Random: I don’t think ranting online about the things that are wrong out there is enough. That’s not going to be sufficient to create change. Communicating like this, spreading information and ideas, will be a necessary part of creating consciousness about the need for action. But blogging is not action in itself. For meaningful change to come, this consciousness must actually translate into action.

    Even mere demonstrations on the streets may be a little overrated. A friend of mine explained to me recently why he didn’t care to attend an anti-war rally a few months ago. He pointed out that when demos were held a hundred years ago, blocking streets and such, their economic effects were tremendous since such actions not only communicated public anger about this or that but also interrupted vital economic activities and held capital hostage. They posed a danger to the status quo and they were certainly heard. Because of modern-day communications technology and economic structures, a demonstration on the streets (or the park!) is hardly a subversive action as in the past—how threatening to the economic/power elites can a demo be when they actually issue permits for it?

    On the other hand, such a protest rally’s symbolic power is still more significant than blogging, I think, since it shows people angry enough to actually bother to leave the comfort of their homes to go outside and scream. But I think that if we’re really interested in effecting change we need to commit long-term to organize and strategize about how to make it happen. Launching, perhaps, a campaign for a moratorium on all evictions? land reform? free quality education? jobs for all?

    Whatever we do, it must also involve recruiting others who never saw themselves as political thinkers/actors. Our political apathy is what allows the elites to continue screwing us over. To take no action is to consent to the status quo. (Actually, Random, there’s another thing I don’t quite agree with: While it’s true that some people are really busy working two jobs and looking after kids, the average person in the US watches six hours of TV a day. I’d think that an unemployed person would have even more free time to spare to a movement for social justice).

  6. There was a time when I thought I needed to vote Republican and get others to do the same just to make things worse. Bush came into power and it was bad.

    Millions hit the streets (against war, for immigrants, labor) all over the world, but nothing was done. Nothing has changed.

    Maybe the smaller wheel of Buddhism is correct, save your ass, get to Nirvana on your own. A professora told me the same thing once and she was into Tensegrity the Casteneda way of knowledge. Both basically say this is hell, save your own butt to get out. Trying to help others is very limited. I always subscribed to the larger wheel and trying to help as many as I could where I could. But I can never do enough.

    I do my thing in the classroom too. I believe more leave my classes ready to march and fight than sign up for a corporate job. But it still doesn’t seem like enough.

    I’m glad this is something we are all thinking in some way.

  7. i dont have time to be angry, im too busy trying to make enough money to keep my family eating and to be able to pay my rent. I dont know what the fuck is happening to this country, but the last thing that dies is hope, we have nothing else. I dont mean to sound conformist, but it is what it is. THe situation is hard, its really fucking hard but I really doubt that we, the average person, can do something to change it, not at our level of power, which is almost nothing.

    However, Im open to suggestions and ready to get down and dirty.

  8. Not to toot my own horn but:
    Dont talk, DO. http://www.elacamp.org
    I would paint with hood kids all day, teaching them about themselves and their community/cultura if I had more grant writing time and the grant/art game wasnt a self promotion festival (those that talkt he most get the gigs).

    I spent and extra 3 semesters in Junior College (that 1.5 years) because i wasnt smart enought to complete my necessarry math classes early in my JC career and the governator decided to balance the budget on students and the poor THE FIRST TIME, several years back (remember when JC units were 9-12$?). So my last year was spent trying to add 2 math classes at several different JC’s.

    My head is above water and i am happy about that, but I am wondering too how long before people start burning shit.

  9. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead

    One of the best quotes ever. This is the first time I have seen this blog and I am blown away by all of the writing I’ve seen so far. We have to remember also that during President Obamas campaign one of the common themes we kept hearing was…what will your call to action be? What will you contribute in these hard times? I understand the frustration and the feeling that it’s hard to make real change, but it is possible. It’s never easy, but what’s the alternative? We have seen what happens to this country when we grow compliant. We had 8 years of George W. Bush because people forgot that they could make a difference that they could use their voices and strength in numbers to change the tides. There is so much that needs to be done…focus on something you are passionate about whether its public education or health care and get involved in protests, blog, call your state and federal representatives and be heard.

    Every small thing can turn into the catalyst that moves thousands to rise up and demand their voices be heard. Does it get exhausting? Yes. Does it seem futile sometimes? Yes. When everyone has grown tired of not being heard or seen…that’s when the majority will stand up and demand things change. Hopefully that comes sooner than later.

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