Work’s Never Done

I wonder if she’s mad about it.

I would be.

I’d also be glad that I could still get out there in the street.

I spent 2o years working for an organization I’ll visit again in two weeks. In the time I spent there, people said thank you once. More often they said, “What have you done for me, today?” or “Who are you again?” or “I’ve never really been clear what this group is about, anyway, so screw you and yours.” I could only get a little mad about it, honestly. I couldn’t sign up for any more of it but I also couldn’t make the case that anybody involved owed anybody anything.

Yet we hear this whenever there’s a damn protest, that young people are Doing It Wrong either because they are protesting Like We Did and it didn’t work, or they are not protesting Like We Did and that is why shit is still fucked up and bullshit. Or we hear that if young people had Appreciated All Our Hard Work, maybe they wouldn’t need to protest at all because Everything would be Perfect.

If you are doing what you are doing for a parade someday, I got news. It ain’t coming. Young protesters do not owe The Sixties a genuflection before they get out in the street their own selves, the Third Wave can tell the Second Wave to suck it if they want to, and for the love of Peter G. Christ, younger activists are not insulting you by existing and caring about different things because, you know, born in a different millennium.

You know how you know your history? Someone TEACHES it to you. Someone puts aside that you’re young and a fuckwit and they get over how tired they are of teaching young fuckwits how to think, and they teach you how to think. If they all took their syllabi and went home the first time someone was like, “Who is James Baldwin?” in a snotty voice, no one would ever know anything.

And if everybody who got in the street got in the street once and then went home like OKAY DID MAH JOB NOW IT’S YOUR TURN WHIPPERSNAPPERS there’d never be another protest because nobody would know about things like “permits” and “what you can actually be arrested for versus a cop being a dickhead.” You don’t get to lay down your burdens, says one of my favorite writers on the planet, the hard parts are all you ever have. You work not because you’re gonna get applause or things are gonna be perfect and finished but because you’re alive. You work to stay alive.

That woman up there? Rosemary? It is infuriating she’s still holding the same sign. She’s gotta be exhausted. And it’s brave, and perfect, that she’s still holding the same sign. If your goal is to make the world better that’s not something you ever want to have to to stop.

A.

One thought on “Work’s Never Done

  1. Ten Bears says:

    We dropped the ball, my generation did. We Stopped the War©. Our War. VietNam. But we didn’t stop War. Whoopie! Nixon quit! Let’s finish our law degrees and buy half million dollar houses on the High Desert!

    We Stopped the War©. Our War. VietNam. But we didn’t stop War. And we left the machinations in place that have led to the Fascist state we have become.

    We dropped the ball.

    Like

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