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exploring “efficacy”

In a recent trip to Long Beach’s Gatsby Books, I picked up a couple dozen political books. Many were written by authors I’d never before encountered, which didn’t deter me from picking up their works.

I’ve read a few of the books I picked up that day, and I’m glad to have found each of them. That being said, I feel a special gratitude for the Gatsby-acquired book I’m currently reading: doctor Paul Farmer’s Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor.

I’d never heard of Farmer (“Presley Professor of Medical Anthropology at Harvard Medical School”) before I happen to pick up this book on the strength of its title. I’m grateful the title caught me; Amartya Sen’s introduction coupled with the first few pages of Farmer’s words had me totally, absolutely hooked.

Having grown up devastatingly poor, I understood the impact of powerlessness–of poverty–on life outcomes. As I wrote in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor,”  Read more…

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power to change everything

One year ago, I couldn’t have told you how World War II began. Sure, I’d studied it in high school history classes, but that was more than twenty years ago.

Having immersed myself in history and politics for the last year, I understand more now. Most significantly, I understand how economic distress fueled Hitler’s rise.

Germans were not a uniquely evil people. They were a distressed people, susceptible–in those specific circumstances–to finding both the wrong villains and extraordinarily wrong solutions.

On Sunday, I wrote about how neoliberalism created the conditions for the weekend’s tragedy in Charlottesville.

Yesterday, a dear friend replied that she’d seen the pictures. The racists she’d seen pictured weren’t economically oppressed, but well dressed and clean shaven. They were privileged.

I’d reply today the same as I replied yesterday. That is to say, I’d reply by noting I’m no fan of privilege theory, which conceals (grave systemic failures) much more than it reveals (anything actionable).

But I wondered: How could I express the pain of enduring economic squeeze to those who haven’t yet felt it? Read more…

Share that light!

I’m an introvert.

I once used stick figure drawings to demonstrate this.

bubble 4

There’s a bubble of space around me I don’t like people invading. I’ve often gotten downright cranky when people have tried.

bubble 3

Even more recently, I’ve come to see a different kind of bubble.

Long before I realized it, I was in a bubble of light. It was mostly warm, and cozy, and illuminated by lots of other friend-filled bubbles around me.

Then Ferguson caught my attention, and I caught glimpses of darkness out beyond these bubbles of light.

I explored. I spoke. And, finally, I moved on, exhausted.

I soaked up the light and forgot my fear of the darkness I’d seen out where light couldn’t–or didn’t–reach.

As the Democratic primaries neared conclusion, I saw darkness again.

I reoriented my bubble so I could no longer see the darkness.

That only worked for a little while. The darkness began peeking through no matter which way I turned.

So rather than fearing its seeping in, I held my breath, clenched my fists, and stepped out into the darkness.

I soon learned that very, very few people are permitted cozy bubbles of light. Their–our–bubbles were purchased by others’ pain.

I learned that my country’s leaders have, for decades, spread the darkness for impoverished people they haven’t (yet) killed worldwide. They have done this for corporate gain.

I discovered my comfortable bubble was paid for by genocide.

“I can’t fucking believe we’re committing fucking genocide!” I roared in agony to friends.

“Mind your language!” they retorted.

Now I see how many lives depend on light breaking through all that darkness.

I’m ashamed I spent so much time in my own bubble. I’m ashamed I tried to hold that light in and keep it just for me and those the very, very nearest to me. More than that, I’m committed to standing outside my friends’ bubbles and encouraging them to burst those bubbles and share their light. To penetrate the darkness and illuminate the world for everyone.

Burst that bubble!

Share that light!

The light outside will be much dimmer than what you’re used to, at first …

… but to many who’ve never had any hope of ever affording their own protective neoliberal bubble, the light may well be blinding.

Please read my sister’s impassioned post
from earlier today.

It may hurt. It may be scary.

It may also well be part of your path to letting
your
light
shine.

If you’re willing to take the journey outside your bubble,
we’ll be overjoyed to walk that road with you,
growing all our strength in solidarity.

rache me mid-80s

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