Let me begin with proverbial trumpets and symbolic confetti. This is the official launch of a joint partnership of soulful and insightful expression between me and one of my dedicated friends, fellow Eureka College alumni, compadres, confidantes, roommates, griots of the people’s stories, partners-in crimes, fellow rabble-rouser, and now tandem rogue journalist, Ms. Abbigail Stuaan-Cawley (Check out her blog, Attempted Domestication). Welcome to the End of the Week Excursus.
I am always exhilarated by the energy of Washington, DC. Every day I wake up and watch/listen to the local morning news for “inside the beltway”, I realize that the halls of power are not held up by the physical marble and granite the city’s ornate buildings are constructed with, but instead by the hearts and energies of the people that warrant its existence as a capital city.
Days like today, the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, are those oft-dreamed shooting stars of civic engagement that speak truth to power. The ability to speak truth to power, in these halls of power, by the citizens that vest said power, is the aim of American democracy, and the hope of this American experiment in such a socio-political concept.
Today, I took the afternoon to run a couple of errands near Capitol Hill. I love to visit the lab of the above mentioned experiment. Where political and policy scientists such as myself
(yeah, I said it, check the credentials homies ;) exercise their licenses to apply social science frameworks and approaches to addressing the problems of our society, and developing the solutions that both solve those problems and establish the foundations for the next stage of the experiment, the very future of our nation-state. Roe v. Wade, the monumental '73 Supreme Court case is one of the finest examples of how that democratic experiment can bring together the proper social elements to create a new compound for application in the legal and political labs we all inhabit.
Oh, but what did I find on this Anniversary of that historic lab session. This:
Now, aside from the KKK members that you can find at about....ummm...0:19 into the video, what I found MOST disturbing was the critical mass of young, high-school aged Americans present in the protests. In fact, I am incorrect in referring to it as a critical mass. It was an overwhelming majority. Young, high-school aged Americans such as these:
I am, and have always been a firm supporter of civic engagement, regardless of age, wealth, race, religion, or any other socially constructed and socio-politically empowered symbol that we use to create parameters. Some of my fondest memories include times my mother involved me and my neighborhood friends in protests for better public education in Detroit. While I may not have known very much about the inner workings and political, or policy, dynamics of the issues themselves, what my mother imparted in me and my friends was that we were not protesting against anything as much as we were protesting for many things that would positively impact our lives, our futures and thus the future of the world she inhabited.
The principle of civic engagement by grassroots protesting has long been the hallmark of modern American social movements and, thankfully, remains so today. It is one of the last vestiges of the foundational elements of democracy that remains untarnished today. At first, I was thrilled to see so many young adults engaging this process, and hoped that they too would be impacted as I once was 10-15 years ago, so much so that they would end up where I am now at 25, here enthralled within the halls of power, speaking truth to it at every opportunity, through every medium available. That thrill made me feel very warm, and even smelt like jasmine, pina-coladas and pacific ocean trade-winds. Until the bricks hit me, and I started to smell the bullshit.
That fecal smell was residual of my critical realization that, like their parents, and many Americans under the novocaine of what is quickly becoming a myth of democracy, and mis-guided civic engagement, these young Americans were fighting for something that:
1) isn't an issue worth fighting for
2) is never going to change
3) would never be affected by the halls of power they are seeking to speak truth within
and, most disheartening
4) serves to distract them, at a very early and formidable age, from the true policy issues they should be protesting for
So the questions began to flood through my mind, like rushing waters of that same ocean breeze I smelled earlier. Who convinced these young adults that abortion should be made illegal? Who convinced them that a dedication to life is dependent on an inflexible stance against a woman's right to choose whether she gives birth to a child or not? Who convinced them that the Federal government has any role in legislating the availability of abortions in America, beyond the Supreme Court's precedent setting ruling that a woman's right to have an abortion up until the "point at which the fetus becomes 'viable?'"
Their parents? Their church? Their school?
Furthermore, who has now potentially tarnished a considerable number of those young and impressionable minds by distracting them from the numerous policy issues of the day that will truly affect their future lives as adults? Who has convinced them that abortion (an issues that, again, has already been decided upon by the US Supreme Court, the supreme Federal policy maker/breaker/re-maker) is worth a visit to the capital for protesting more so than last year's bank bailouts (err, excuse me TARP), by the legislative body, or the potential increasing of the federal debt ceiling (again, by the legislative body), when both of these policies would impact their lives and their life options far more than whether a woman has a right to exercise her natural right to determine what she will and will not allow her physical body to endure (or for that matter what kind of economic and social situation she will allow herself to be in as a result of childbirth)? That was a long one, I know. I apologize. Eat it up and let it digest before swimming.
All of these questions, have led to my final pondering. Where I find myself right now. My mental state as a human and as a civically minded and engaged American.
As Janelle Monae said (I always gotta end on a musical note):
Are we really living or just walking dead now?
Go to 2:31 if you want to get straight to the point.
"Day-Dreamers please WAKE UP! We can't sleep no more." They're getting the children. The seed corn. Once the seed corn is gone, there's no harvest for tomorrow.
Happy Birthday Roe v. Wade.