Every now and again it hits you, you know, those moments where you remember you're blessed to be alive and taking in every detail carefully and consciously. In my younger days, I would often find those moments in that slightly blurred walk from the barstool to the bathroom, the silence surrounding the urinal in comparison to the din of the barroom. For some reason these would be the moments where I was most grateful for my life, when I would reflect on the people I was sharing the evening with, the grandiosity and mystery of it all, and smile sheepishly at my reflection in the plastic of the poster frame hanging over the pisser.
Recently, there have been a lot less of these beer induced journeys; life is now a blur of other beauties. In December I quit my job as a high school social studies teacher to dedicate myself completely to organizing work with the organization Justicia Global. Since then, time has become a dance with no offbeat. I wake breathing social change work and sleep singing it softly to myself.
We published a book titled the "Daily Revolution" last December that builds a strong case for why social transformation is not a single moment of "taking power" but continual, ongoing, everyday process that starts on all levels of how we "be" in this world. Our being matters, our spirit matter, our health matters, our knowledge matters, our identities matter when working to create socio-political and economic systems that work for the majorities and not just a small few. I have been privileged to be a part of the team that is translating that book from Spanish to English and we are working hard at preparing for its release by the end of the year up North.
I have also recently fulfilled another dream: just this week we released a compilation of songs that are the result of an artistic collaboration between myself and Dominican poet and movement leader, Angel Pichardo Almonte. I composed the music, play the guitar and sing the words of some pretty intense poetry recounting the anguish of the oppressive violence against Latin America's peoples movements in the last decades, the hope of the current struggles they continue to inspire, and tales of love, loss, and longing amidst it all. The songs are available for listening, purchase, and download here and I would greatly appreciate your financial support as I venture into the world beyond 9-5 employment with a fixed-income. A portion of the proceeds will also be going back to the organization Justicia Global to help fund our community based organizing work that strives to build the grassroots political leadership we need to collectively movilize another world into being.
I am really hopeful for this world. In spite of British Petroleum and the disproportionate use of force against flotillas and our never ending wars against brown people at home and abroad and the displacement of impoverished people in order to "World Cup" South Africa, I am really hopeful for this world.
I am most hopeful when we see humanity in places where it really has no business. Take, for example, the Armando Galarraga/Jim Joyce saga of last week. The grace and humanity that Galarraga displayed to accompany the honesty and humility of Joyce was, and is, truly remarkable. David Zirin, writing (more) about the topic this week, did well to recant his initial anger and listen to his readership. In his latest article he even includes the comments of some of his readers that clearly show wisdom amidst a complex and emotional, albeit merely sports-world scenario:
"...Finally, at the risk of sounding mawkish, one of the very basic reasons we all hold the ‘lefty’ politics that we hold is because we’re profoundly interested in people being treated fairly and with justice and with respect. I think having compassion for another human being during the most difficult of times is incredibly important in describing the reasons why I have the politics I have. Yes, I know a botched call in a baseball game may not matter in the big scheme of things and perhaps I’m making too big of a deal about the incident. But in a way I so very seldom see in sports or in other arenas of life these days, I was truly taken aback by what was on display after this incident: The principles of compassion and civility and empathy and good will from the pitcher impacted his teammates, manager, fans, and the umpire himself. It might not have been a perfect game because of Joyce’s big mistake but it was a perfect aftermath.”
Like this commentator on Zirin's site, I am most hopeful when I see humanity in hard places because it reaffirms the goodness we have within bursting to be with-out. The mistake we make is thinking that goodness or the possibility of a better world is won or lost in a single moment- whether that be on the scale of making a better economic system or making a better call on the 27th out of a potential perfect game. The possibility of a better world is ongoing and endless. It is knowing when you are wrong and forgiving those who have wronged you. It is a continual process of reflection and action that takes into account the interdependence of everything on this earth.
It is everyday and it too is smiling back at you from above the urinal.