Monday, October 27, 2008

The Audacity of Hope Ain’t Jest Whistlin’ Dixie

The young ones really do carry our species' life energy. When they come to life, the rest of us live again, the rest of us dare to remember and dare to dream. Again. 64

Barack Obama appeared at a rally in Albuquerque. 45,000 of my fellow New Mexicans attended. Lots of us have been pounding the pavement for this remarkable candidate for months. Many of us have sensed an unsettling wisp of patriotism. This post, however, concerns a far more spectacular phenomenon.

The almost fearful optimism felt by many of the young strikes light through these chilly, fall, high desert nights. At the outset of his campaign, I could see the reluctance in their eyes. Everything they had heard about politics and politicians, all the cynicism of their parents (and, God forbid, me) became a torturous reality during the Bush Autocracy. The seemingly bottomless self-serving of a wretched, neo-con psycopathy had lost even the inclination to deceive us as they increased their insults, and, for the young, the outrages slipped into a dismal, national, hopeless melancholy of realization that we, as citizens, really had lost a class war.

The hubris of an openly opportunistic Congress as it extracted more and more from the country, the silence of a whining, insistent, self-defined media claiming to be relevant and a President who seemed to walk in a mindless, blood-soaked indifference had all gently groomed these young ones for our national descent. A Justice Department openly determined to serve its masters any outrage they ordered and a Supreme Court which almost instantly inaugurated its party choice in the face of what was called an election quietly reinforced the darkest “No Exit” existential numbness for the young ones.

Challenged, frustrated, they found themselves agonizingly unaware. They absolutely felt, but they were blind sided by not knowing. There was the unsettling possibility -- in those young minds -- that they had been bred stupid to be a meaningless sacrifice in Carl Rove’s dreadful abattoirs. Their fate was to be a lifetime of low caste exploitation, the lot, historically, of all who had suffered the loss of their country. Logic was to mean nothing in the face of power. A tawdry innuendo of gutless democracy and bereft freedom continually demanded that it was enough. That it was all there was. That it had always been all there was.

No wonder they narcotized themselves with useless education, distraction, drugs and half hearted attempts to pretend that the future had somehow survived.

Then came the black man.

I had seen it before, long ago. At first no more than furtive, stolen moon light through a cold night’s wind, then that ancient human spark began to reappear, frightened and cowering at first, then, ever so slowly, a bit more courageous. You know, that nasty little spark that has always terrified tyrants.

These young ones who had never been persuaded or convinced before, still refused to listen, but they saw inside themselves. They could see what had been put there. They saw the extremes. They saw, at once, both the soul starving deception of the ones who had frightened all of us so masterfully and the crazy inebriation of every human who had ever finally stood for himself after believing that he couldn’t. Details mattered little. Perhaps it was George Washington sizing up the British Empire with a thought of taking it down. Perhaps it was some nameless, but deadly brave Australopithecine deciding that terrifyingly lethal saber tooth could also bleed.

Thoughts such as these only become material when there also exists the possibility of mortal failure. All new currency to these young ones -- currency with an exchange rate known to none of them.

Could something like this be possible? Possible even to those who weren’t entirely sure they even knew what the “something” was?

They searched their textbooks and computers. Everything they found there seemed to be more of the same dark blanket of hopelessness. They watched the news with a new fervor, but it only told them new versions of the same depressing story of inevitability. They spoke out, a little, and were told that they were foolishly exaggerating, that they were spoiled and indulgently dreaming.

The televisions spoke to them. They listened for a while. Then they quit listening. At least, they quit believing. They were told to have no hope. They were told that things were not really as things were, really. The televisions told them to be calm, to be accepting. The televisions told the young ones that the televisions spoke the truth.

The world encompassing evil slowly emerged, revealing itself to them. They didn’t know enough to be any more than suspicious, but they could feel the hypnotic death grip of this numbing pain slipping. The details of fact, perhaps, continued to elude them, but the fact of anger made its own muscles in their souls. The young ones got mad.

Against the most powerful odds on the planet, the black man was still there, still speaking. The young ones listened because he was speaking to them. Was he the first one who spoke to them?

The rest of this strange, fast tale is history.

If you are a tyrant, hope is a cancer. If you are a tyrant and it becomes audacious hope -- either in perception or material reality -- it is a mortal threat, dulling the psychology of despair, relentlessly charting its course to a painful, unavoidable desolation. No death is more desperate than the one endured alone when all who might wait with you have lost interest.

And, we can see these empty, pompous interlopers, exposed as such false creations, while their machinations and purloined power collapses in the face of hope such as this. They rage, briefly, snarling about in the dust, formulating another of their ravenous schemes to perpetuate control, but then, when lit up fully by this new light, they become eerily passive like the gazelle after the failed escape, calmly grazing for a last moment before the cheetah hits.

The hope of the black man was impressive enough, but alone, hardly historically decisive.

However, once it entered the young ones...

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