Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My addiction

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference." - Reinhold Niebuhr

Hello, my name is ?]\$# and I am a professional organizer. This is my statement of intent, of contempt, of redemption. Take it as you will. I am addicted to the high of winning victories, as small as they can be - of feeling like I've been able to change things somehow for the better.

Those moments are few and far in between nowadays. And this is what organizing means - being able to slough through the slow times, when it feels like not only are you not making any progress, you're retreating on so many fronts, with your legs so shot up that you can't run away fast enough. It hurts so good, so you drink or screw to forget.

Organizing means being in it for the long haul, surviving on morsels of previous victories in dry times, hording them like cigarettes on the battlefront. You remember the battle cry, your comrades falling on either side and pushing forward regardless, regrouping with your men and women to find that you've gained a few feet or maybe a few miles. Then you turn and look at where you came from, the fallen bodies in between, and you take the wrapper off slowly, commemorate your buddies who left this world by taking another hit, another swig. Whisper, "there but for the grace of God go I." Congratulate yourself that you made it to the next round, the next fight.

You buy into it deeper, it stings less this time. You are a soldier on the battlefield of Good and Evil. The lines are clearly drawn, the scene out of Lord of the Rings. Going to battle stirs the anxiety in your soul, because everytime you head out you wonder if you'll make it back alive, with your soul intact. Sometimes you think you will kill yourself.

Lord knows you don't always agree with the decisions that your COs make, you live to serve, and you serve on command. You struggle with the inefficiency of it all - sometimes you are told to go out and claim half an inch. You are told that it is the most important half an inch ever, that it will serve your fellow countrymen who are not at battle the most. Your belief wavers as you watch the same half inch strip switch ownership. You realize you are an ant in the overall scheme, so you hunker down and try not to care but in truth you are addicted to caring about the outcome.

Why remain? Why stay and fight? The people who own you are not necessarily nicer people than the ones who you fight. They don't have a better strategy, and they usually take you for granted. In calmer times you share a smoke with the people from the other side, a consoling word about your roles as bit players in this ridiculous drama.

Some people in your division switch sides. It seems like your side is dwindling. What the hell is going on? you think, that they don't see the difference. There is a difference. There has to be a difference. For this to be worth it, there is a difference. You take another shot, try to drown out the other voices.

Sweet oblivion, you wipe out. It pushes away the nagging thoughts for awhile. At the end of the day, you are your own worst demon because you want to believe. You are a true believer, you have seen wars that have gone well that were fought for the right reasons. Remember them.

A good soldier has unswerving loyalty and no trace of doubt. I have a stockpile of tequila and rum. I have a desire to do good and to do right. I question whether I can do both and remain true to my loved ones, or if when I go home, I will bring the horrors with me. If I go home.

I ask myself why have I been spared when I know that all I need to do is leave the path. No bombs will explode, no requiems would be sung. I can continue to support my comrades from a cozy perch at home. I can tell others of their plight.

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