Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Faded revolutionaries


We've papered the walls
with our faded revolution,
our passion become
a conversation piece,
the pigment of our muse.

Oh!  Those were the days
of glory!  we sigh,

fingers curled round a cup of cappuccino.


In youth, it all seems clear. There are so many things wrong with the world. Why are we the only ones who seem to see?  Well, there are a few elders, the few over thirty who share our vision;  we look to them as our guides.  Yet, oddly, the ones we deem wisest are not the ones who wield power.  Why is that?  And why do not the ones in power change the things that so obviously need changing?  Clearly they simply need to see more clearly, and then the power of truth will compel them.

And so we go forth boldly, determined to change the world.  Be the change we wish to see, living as if the obstacles to change did not exist.  Until, sooner or later, crisis:  I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took an arrow in the knee.  Stabbed by the office politics we thought we could ignore.  The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

And we give up, give in, fade.

And we look at the next generation of youth, and we nod and we say, oh, you'll learn.  You'll get burned.  You'll be like we are.  Inevitably.  Someday.

And we look at the few among our peers, the ones who seem to refuse to learn, even after they get burned, and we think ah, some people just never grow up.  What can you do.

What can you do?

A hell of a lot more than you've conditioned yourself to believe.

We've been talked out of trusting the evidence of our eyes.  We've accepted our culture's lesson that the path to security and success is to praise the beauty of the naked emperor's clothing.  We've learned to love Big Brother.  And we've learned to ignore the voice within ourselves that says, insistently:

It doesn't have to be this way.

What human beings have created, human beings can change.

True, there are indeed external obstacles.  Visualizing and wishing alone won't make it so.  Yet every constructive action begins with a vision, an idea.  Every building begins with a blueprint, and every blueprint begins in the imagination of an architect, or two, or ten.

But if we are afraid to envision, afraid to dream, afraid to question and to challenge and to seek change, we will never lay the first brick.

We have been conditioned to be afraid.  We have been conditioned to stop questioning, stop challenging, just do as we are told.  Our access to material support depends upon our obedience and conformity to The Way Things Are.  Conditioned by the carrot and the stick, we allow our youthful freshness of vision to fade, and we convince ourselves that it was all just a dream.  A nice dream, a really nice dream, perhaps, but now it's time to wake up.

Except you weren't dreaming.  Wake up.

If we dared to combine the idealism of our youth with the wisdom and experience of our years, imagine what we could do.

And then, go beyond imagining.

Lay the first brick.  Make it so.