One does not have to be familiar with the bolt sizes on the wrecking balls that tore down Cabrini-green to oppose the demolition of public housing. One must hold close the comfort of stepping into a warm room from a cold outdoors, the solace of a bed to lie in, and the security of a place called home.
We have become the expert biographers of our own demise. Rather than offering a vision of the world we yearn for, we study and share the machinations of government and capital that harm us. Like doctors who offer diagnoses but no cures, we are the town criers of a sick society rather than the midwives of the world to come.
When Dr. King returned from Ghana shortly after it celebrated it’s independence, he did not relay the operations of colonialism to animate his congregation but the inevitability of a world where rich & poor feast at the same table.
The humble of Montgomery did not walk instead of ride the buses for two years because the improvement association impressed upon them the indignity of segregation. They knew that in their bones. They blistered their feet because they felt the pulse of possibility course in their veins.
Michael Albert claimed that the task of the 60’s generation was to expose oppression, make it real, and connect the individual suffering to its systemic causes. Television images of Bull Connor’s hoses and dogs attacking protestors shocked the nation into realizing that such things as racism did indeed plague us.
He claims that the error of our generation is repeating a task already completed. People do not need to be reminded that oppression exists, that things are unfair or unequal. There are reminders at the edge of every off-ramp and in the nightly doorways of most cities. People know its bad. Our task is to get them to believe it could be different.
We do not get there by detailing the tread of the boot upon our necks. We arrive by imagining a world where we can straighten our spines. We do not get there by solely examining how our power is taken from us but by discovering our infinite strength. We arrive at the world we desire by speaking that desire not just our despair.
There is a peace we wish to usher in. A world of slippers and the leisure time to enjoy them; work gloves and the knowledge to use them; education that allows us to know better to do better to live better together. Where we respect our elders and honor our young. Where we each meet our basic needs and share in the responsibility of making sure those needs are met.
We catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Let us allow our own prophetic voices to reign and replace the bitterness of today’s boot tread with the sweet feeling of a tomorrow that’s our’s. Each closing we face is an opening, but only if our eyes are lifted to see it.