Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"One pragmatic imperfect victory at a time"

Nothing I have read recently has touched my heart as profoundly as this article by Rebecca Solnit titled: A letter to my dismal allies on the US left. It was written just prior to the 2012 election but could just as easily apply to the 2014 midterms. As a matter of fact, the message is timeless.

I'm going to provide a couple of quotes and hope you'll go read the whole thing. There is absolutely nothing I can add that would come close to being as beautifully expressed as what she wrote.

Under the heading "Leftwing Voter Suppression," she starts with this:
One manifestation of this indiscriminate biliousness is the statement that gets aired every four years: that in presidential elections we are asked to choose the lesser of two evils. Now, this is not an analysis or an insight; it is a cliche, and a very tired one, and it often comes in the same package as the insistence that there is no difference between the candidates. You can reframe it, however, by saying: we get a choice, and not choosing at all can be tantamount in its consequences to choosing the greater of two evils.

But having marriage rights or discrimination protection or access to healthcare is not the lesser of two evils. If I vote for a Democrat, I do so in the hopes that fewer people will suffer, not in the belief that that option will eliminate suffering or bring us to anywhere near my goals or represent my values perfectly. Yet people are willing to use this "evils" slogan to wrap up all the infinite complexity of the fate of the Earth and everything living on it and throw it away.
The bold is my emphasis. It was at that point that the tears of having my heart exposed began. And then the floodgates opened with this:
The great human rights activist Harvey Milk was hopeful, even though when he was assassinated gays and lesbians had almost no rights (but had just won two major victories in which he played a role). He famously said, "You have to give people hope."

In terms of the rights since won by gays and lesbians, where we are now would undoubtedly amaze Milk, and we got there step by step, one pragmatic and imperfect victory at a time – with so many more yet to be won. To be hopeful means to be uncertain about the future, to be tender toward possibilities, to be dedicated to change all the way down to the bottom of your heart.
From the bottom of my heart...thank you Rebecca!

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