Monday, September 03, 2012

Horse to the Water...George Harrison

With the election season upon us, I am thinking politics, more so the outrage some have for politics. This outrage can come out whether one is a democrat or a republican. What I'm really interested in is the outrage itself. On the surface, it seems to be the issues at hand that cause outrage. Perhaps someone is outraged by abortion or gay marriage. Perhaps someone else is outraged by inequities in pay (the poor) or tax loops for the rich. In either case, the emotionally charged sparks that fly are something very real. My aunt for instance is outraged by Obamacare which I see as healthcare, but non-the-less the outrage she has matches another family friend that lives just outside of Austin. Some days, I too become staunch, self-assured and certain that people who don't see the way I do are simply ignorant, but the fact is, they too are outraged, self-righteous and certain they are right. I was disheartened by the recent chic-fil-a influx which I felt was rooted in hate. I am disheartened when I go camping with a bunch of people who want to vote for Romney but seem to have no clue the wars ran the deficit up. But the fact is, I respect my aunt and my brother who are both staunch conservatives. They can't help it. It is intertwined with their belief system, their belief that an all-powerful God is running the show, that the world is corrupt. There is no use arguing with either of them, in that I'm never going to change their belief in a supreme being who happens to be male and patriarchal. I'm never going to get them to change their thinking. I think history may do that, and people make history, but sheer outrage in and of itself isn't enough to do that. Think Martin Luther King and Ghandi.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I was often outraged. Recently I learned this is more tied to my trauma than the actual politics. How to be reasonable? How to maintain some distance, level-headed and maintain some even-keeled perspectives? Is it possible? I think of how Martin Luther King changed things. He knew rhetoric. He knew the art of persuasion. I used to teach his "Letter from Birmingham Jail," where he calls his opposition "gentlemen."  The man was in jail through the ignorance of others, yet he praised the very clergymen who were critical of his cause. This is lacking everywhere on Facebook and in larger society. I have "friends" who are conservative and hyper-religious and "friends" who are liberal in every sense of the word, but they are for the most part all "outraged."

Why all this blather about outrage? I think it's because sometimes I grow weary of outrage masked as goodness or righteousness. I grow weary of political hankering posing as poetry. When the outrage takes over completely, I grow weary. And it seems at this point in time, or at least in my tiny tiny segment of po-biz-world, outrage wins every time. It doesn't matter if someone is a terrible poet as long as they are outraged, angry, self-righteous, advocating and furious. (esp. at white people)

In some ways I have written book reviews which I shouldn't have written. There's a small segment of poets and writers, who more and more I am realizing are not the poetry "world." Small as the poetry world is, it is bigger than mere outrage. In this I am settling down, relaxing a  bit more day by day. I want my work to reflect on larger social and economic issues, but I want it to be done with a sense of Martin Luther King's generosity, for this is real generosity, not simply kissing someone's ass because they are in a position of power and influence and hating white people. Really. I did not become a poet to stay in a place of outrage. If anything, I am seeking a place of peace and forgiveness.

So in the end, forgiveness is where I need to be. I need to forgive this perception that one be constantly outraged and fighting a battle with marginalization. It's okay for me just to write, to live, to learn how to forgive, to forgive myself for writing some reviews and not writing others. Forgiveness seems a constant struggle, but in having more compassion with myself and forgiving myself, I can hopefully step out and forgive this outrage that surrounds us all at every turn.

In the end, I'm glad I write these things. It helps me come to a place of understanding and forgiveness for myself and others.

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