“There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place…or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct…or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.”
— Chris Hedges; author
“No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”
— Amendment V; U.S. Constitution
By W.D. Noble
The time for half-measures – indeed; any measures other than civil disobedience – are over. The rich cocksuckers running the country via the Casino on Wall Street are holding the nation in thrall to a political system which has been purchased, via rulings like Citizens United and the tender ministrations of the Koch Brothers, their stooges in the Tea Party and the variant Fundie groups which would have us believe that their Imaginary Friend, Jesus H. Christ, Esq. (CEO of the Republican Party and founder of America), is in Charge of it All, and looking down beneficently while he polishes his flamethrower, ready to sort-out everyone who dissents.
Y’know what? Fuck him. Fuck them, too. I want my damn country back.
This might be my last post for a while. I’m headed to Washington at the end of the week to help occupy the Capitol Mall as a part of October2011; depending on where you read this (my main writing-site or over on Subversify) I may be getting ready to go, or already there. Regardless, wish us luck.
We’re all going to need it. Not because I’m afraid of J.H. Christ, Esq. (he doesn’t exist); I’m far more fearful of winding up in a Washington jail or worse, because I’ve violated one of the many and bizarre arcane rules, late of the last ten years, which preclude a citizen from speaking his or her mind. Frankly, yes – I’m afraid I’ll wind up with a 500 pound cell-mate with love on his mind, while a Federal ‘keeper’ laughs at the antics of such people in his human zoo.
I’m still willing to go through with it.
So should you. Because whether or not you know this, you don’t have a choice.
The other day, an American citizen by the name of Anwar al-Awlaki was unceremoniously killed – assassinated, it turns out, without trial or leave of appeal in spite of his rights as a citizen under the Fifth Amendment. Citizens in New York City are being pepper-sprayed and arrested outside the New York Stock Exchange by police who stand more to lose from the bastards sipping champagne and sneering from the balconies than they do by joining the protesters. Every one of the bastards in the photo below? They deserve a rope and a slow-haul to the top of a lamppost – which, by the way, is no better than what al-Awlaki got from the U.S. Government.
From top to bottom, America has no sense of itself, and I’m given to wonder if the terrorists have really won, after all. I know one thing – the cure (ten years of assaults on our civil liberties, two unwinnable wars which have bled the country white, Gitmo, and a host of other things) was (and is) worse than the ‘disease’, and we have to do something about it.
Because, as I mentioned earlier, you no longer have a choice. You’re in this up to the hatband, and your only decision left is to either join the side which is demanding its freedom and its country back, or sit back in apathy and watch the country go to a Hell of the aforementioned bastards’ devising.
I won’t candy-coat this – the cost may be high. Ask this fellow. You may wind up in jail with me. You may wind up pepper-sprayed; assaulted, or worse – because your rights as a citizen no longer apply – the family of al-Awlaki can tell you that.
“I can’t,” you say. “I have a job.” Take some time off. There’s a damn good chance in six months you won’t have it anymore, anyway. “I have kids,” you’ll say. Take them with you – you’ll be teaching them several valuable life-lessons; the first of which is how to make history, rather than study it in a classroom.
“I can’t get there.” That never stopped you when you were younger. Hitchhike, if you have to. “But I don’t have a room when I get there,” you’ll say. Fuck that. Neither do I. I’m packing this cool little tent, some long underwear, and a heavy coat.
“But I have a family, and too much to live for.” This is the lamest excuse, really – what are they going to do? Take away your youth? Your freedom? Here’s a clue, Mr. and Mrs. American – they’ve already done that. If you give a damn about your kids, you’ll grow a pair and do this. For them. For you, too.
The choice is yours. You can watch the country go to Hell on CNN, or you can do something about it.
I’ve made my choice.
Why We Fight: Homelessness; In Real-Time
Before I get on a plane to put myself between our homes and the class-war’s desolation, I wanted to take a moment and show you all, first hand, why we’re engaged in this fight, and what’s really at stake here.
First, don’t think you’re immune.
The forces at work here are vast. They’ve taken on a life of their own, even though no one ‘owns’ them – they’re the forces of an economic tsunami, and they’re yet to break fully on our shores. You may well say, “I have assets!” You may well be right. I can tell you now that unless you’re in a position rivaling that of a Colombian drug lord, complete with your own private army, you have nothing which cannot be taken in a flash by the next bursting bubble.
Such was the case of a woman I’d met in a writing-group here on-line.
What amazed me about her in the beginning was her strength. She’d survived not just one, but two, abusive parents and an abusive husband (she freely admits that the last one was her decision, and that the statistics are correct; people who are raised in abusive situations usually seek them out, for complex reasons).
She was one of a very handful of women who’d connected the dots and developed the inner strength to say, “Today – and for the rest of my life – I will refuse to be a victim.” She’s raised two very bright, capable children into their teens. She’s accomplished what a lot of people couldn’t, and for that, I admire her. However, while she could beat abuse and its effects, the relentless tides of economic collapse – things over which no person in America can exercise any real control – have finally caught up with her.
Three years ago, she lost her job – an all-too-familiar story; she exhausted her unemployment benefits, then began selling homemade jewelery (along with the family furniture) to survive. In December last year, I organized a fund-raiser among my fellow online writers and friends to help keep this woman in her house. We raised a little over $1,000 – money which went a long way toward seeing to it that she spent Christmas in their modest apartment, rather than a homeless shelter.
Still, what she needed was a job. While she’s a capable admin, the destruction of America’s economy by an unregulated financial system translated into a complete dearth of employment. With 80 people applying for any given job in America, the odds are long against one person.
This week, her luck, time, and support all ran out.
“(We) determined after weighing all the facts, of which there are too many to name, that we have quite literally and thoroughly exhausted all of our options.
As such the following has been decided. (1) At the turn of the month (November) we will hold on to the last of our funds and (2) begin processing to the homeless shelter.”
That’s it. In her small case, the fight is over. She lost.
“(My daughter) and I will go to the Women’s Shelter. It is guesstimated that we may be there anywhere between a couple of weeks and a couple of months before we can be placed…kind of like rejected pound puppies, it seems. Though in this case it’s a matter of suitable housing within the program, which roughly means Section 8, I think.
My son will (hopefully) be with his father (he has not asked yet). His options were either the Men’s shelter (complete with who knows what or who) or his dad’s house. We as a family decided that he needed to be somewhere safer than a men’s shelter. He would have rather have stayed with his sister and I, but the shelters split adult males from adult females and their children. My daughter and I can take care of each other, but my son would be left on his own…which is unacceptable to us as a family. We may be a lot of things, but we never leave one another unnecessarily exposed.”
I want you all to think about this – and picture you own family, when your own children were in their teens.
This is why we fight.
If the smug CNN reporters who ‘don’t know why these people are here’ at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration still need a clue, they need to read this.
Every Teabagger in America needs to read this.
So does every Republican presidential candidate.
So does Barack Obama, who can’t seem to get his head out of his ass long enough to take on the banks and the brokerages and the other people who caused this mess.
Because if the people in charge don’t fix this, we’ll do it for them. And it won’t be pretty.
Her note went on, “As soon as we know that the agency has agreed to help us with the move then I’ll take some of the funds I have left to secure a space, in the hopes that this is temporary. However, because of the instability of the situation, we are preparing for the possibility that whatever goes into storage will be lost…the books, the mementos, the small things, the things that make up our lives…that’s going to be hard to handle if this is what takes us out of the picture. All of my research books, all the things that gave me a sense of who I was because they became part of me when I had nothing else…is on the line.”
That’s what happens when you become homeless, folks – your options are gone. Someone else is in charge of everything, from your Grandmother’s photo-album to your very person. At that point, your body isn’t even yours, any more.
“I saw the Action Agency last week (end of September 2011). They gave me a point of contact for the eviction process and made some rather interesting observations. The big one being that they noticed I am exhausted. I’m about as wound up, and ready to shatter as I have ever been in my life. I am wholly against tears in any form coming out of my face, but I’m so fried that I burst into tears at the drop of a hat when I am struggling to get through talking….to anyone about THIS situation. I, who usually know what to do to fix any situation…have no idea how to fix this, because it seems I have been trying to avoid this kind of reality since ….since I was born. Currently, I’m thankful I don’t own a gun because I would blow my brains out.”
This is what homelessness is like, folks. The stress develops into post-traumatic stress disorder when it’s over – but until then, the stress never leaves. Many homeless people take their own lives – not because they want to die, but because it’s the only measure of control left to them – the choice not to live as the nation’s economy has dictated.
Then, there’s the guilt, and the shame:
“I am angry because I couldn’t get my daughter to University – she is so damned smart it’s offensive to not be able to give her the boost she deserves so she can have what I was never allowed to have…support; encouragement; options.
I’m frustrated that my son, the musician – gifted even without formal training, self taught, getting into play at first chairs, being acknowledged for his skill and talent, never got a instrument that was in keeping with his skill and talent. And right now, he’s so worried about how we are going to live that he can’t focus on school, and worse…he can’t even begin to hope for going to college.
I’m overwhelmed, because in the last bit….I can’t even provide a meal without worrying about where it’s coming from and I worry about how to make $168 last a month for 3 people, because that is all the food stamps we qualify for right now, until the paper work is adjusted…I hope. And I’m humiliated because we have to go to charity food banks with our welfare voucher that says we are broke, so they can give us day old bread, and cans of food.”
This is what poverty is like, folks.
I wrote her a reply, and said that I felt guilty in a way, because I and those who graciously donated last year weren’t able to solve the problem permanently.
“You all gave us 10 months…it’s more than anyone I am related to ever tried to do in my whole life. You gave us time, without asking for me to pay you back in blood, or to prostitute myself for it. You gave me the endorsement of knowing that I would do whatever it took to make it work. Even my mother would not give me that much credit, without demanding that I let her treat me like hell because she gave me money.
It’s not your failure. It’s the failure of the coward, the manipulator, the user, the narcissist, the greedy, the abusive. This was just that I’m tapped out, I need help and I have nowhere to go. This is the worst case scenario of kids that grow up in abusive homes, and then get slammed by an economy that collapses or a society built on indulgence and no accountability, from the smallest social structure of family to the largest parts of government.
It’s the worst case scenario of a truth that is undeniable; an economy that will not provide a fighting chance; a society that is greedy, selfish, top heavy and bloated, gorging on the impoverished.”
Today, I’m going to Washington.
I’m going for this woman, who has no chance.
I’m going for her children, who have no future.
I’m going for everyone in her position. I’m going because the lesson of a smoking hole in the ground in New York was never learned. I’m going because the people who sipped champagne and sneered at the protesters on Wall Street are the problem, not the solution.
I’m going for all of us.
This is why we fight.
Dispatches from D.C. 1 of 5