Friday, December 5, 2014

Teaching Our Children the Merits of Inactivism.

Hi! Good to see you again. 

Back in November, I posted the following to the Reflections of a Shallow Pond Facebook page:

To my faithful readers, each of whom I love unconditionally,

You may or may not have noticed that I've been posting to the blog a little less lately. Due to my chronic OCD, I've been devoting most of my blog prep time to writing a kids' book.

It's going well, and I think a few thousand more words should round out the first draft, at which time I'll start posting again. It'll be a happy day to emerge from the other side of this meaty juggernaut.

Feel free to peruse the archives if you're looking for a treasure trove of outdated punchlines.

Thanks for reading.

Pretty much instantaneously, I started regretting that bloated little press release. 

If I had wanted to be honest with myself and everyone else, I would have said, “Due to my chronic OCD, I’m unable to focus on anything but working on the first draft of my middle grade novel. Also, I can’t think of anything to write about anyway, and there’s quite a bit of football that needs watching.”

Ahh, I feel better already. Oh,one last thing—did I say something about a “meaty juggernaut”? Yeah, I don’t think so. Trinity by Leon Uris is a meaty juggernaut. Chris Christie is a meaty juggernaut. 

Right now, I’d describe the book as more of a “cheesy Duggar plot.” In real-life terms, it’s currently about the length a routine colon cleanse—you’d be closing the cover around the time you’re closing the lid. Ideally, however, I'd like it to span the course of an intense but survivable bird flu.

Anyway, moving on. Wow, November wasn’t exactly a harmonious month, was it? The Ferguson decision, coupled with an increasingly violent attitude toward Black Friday, coagulated into the perfect Nor’ Easter of social unrest this past month. 

For the first time here in Seattle, protesters stormed two downtown Malls, freaking out pretty much everyone but the guy in the Brookstone store who’d been waiting a half hour to try the new Infiniti IT 8500 Massage Chair and by god, wasn’t lettin’ a mob of tree huggers stand between him and his flamin' sciatica. 

Have you ever participated in a demonstration? Ever stood up to the man—told him you’re fed up with his bullshit—and that you’re not going anywhere until justice, and hopefully pizza, is delivered? 

I have, twice. I first dipped my toes into the muddy sand of civil disobedience in high school. Was I rebelling against the tyrannical re-institution of selective service registration? Can’t say I was. Did I march against Ronald Reagan’s covert war against Nicaragua’s Sandanistas? Um…nah.

The arena many of my classmates and I chose as our initiation into rabble rousing was just that—a basketball arena. I’ve long since forgotten what the referee did to incite such activism, but whatever it was, a few of us spontaneously decided to sit on the court after the game to challenge the loss forced upon us by a gang of zebra-striped oppressors. Unflinchingly resolved that the ref violated our basic human right to a senior year playoff win, we rattled the rafters of the Hazen High School gym with chants of,“Hell no! We won’t go!”

Classy, eh? If co-opting Vietnam anti-war slogans toward our equally righteous ends was the order of the day, then so be it. 

Seriously, though, what did we think—that the referees would sheepishly return to the court and say, “We’ve never seen a group of people sit on the floor so powerfully. Let’s go ahead and bring the teams out and add a couple more minutes to the game clock. Well played, Trojan student body.”

The principal and a couple of off-duty cops told us to leave. We did, but incensed at the injustice we’d witnessed, my friends and I wouldn't forget this until well into the Dairy Queen drive-through line.

I’d like to think that my second act of public rebellion was a catalyst toward inspiring my older daughter’s future actions. On February 15, 2003, protesters in cities across America took to the streets to object to the Bush Administration’s impending invasion of Iraq. 

Nearly eight years old, my kid seemed a good age at which to impart a lesson on First Amendment rights by participating in the parade from Seattle Center to the International District.

I knew that, how ever far we walked away from the car, we’d have to hike back the same distance, and I didn’t want her forever associating social demonstration with boredom, hunger and fatigue. We managed to walk half the route before peeling off course and finding a place with chicken tenders and getting to the car in time to beat the agitator traffic. 

But how, on that crisp winter day, could I have known that a simple lesson would propel my sweet cherub toward a life of activism twelve years hence? Here’s what happened yesterday, as told by my nineteen-year-old daughter, a sophomore at Western Washington University:

I was walking on campus with a couple of friends. We were on our way to get a hot chocolate at Starbucks. We saw something happening in Red Square (the brick-floored hub of campus), like lots of people were gathering, so we decided to check it out. We walked over and saw two girls standing on the fountain, talking into bullhorns. A drum started beating, and for every beat, one of them said the name of a famous victim of police brutality.

A few minutes later, we found ourselves right in the middle of a huge crowd. The drum started beating faster…and people started lying on the wet bricks. I said to my friend, "Wow, that sucks for them. It must be freezing down there.” 

More and more people dropped to the ground, and before we knew it, we were the only ones standing. “We can’t leave now,” I said. So all three of us just laid down. At least I had my backpack on so my back didn’t get wet, but pretty soon, my butt was so cold it was numb. We laid there for almost ten minutes. Then the drum started beating again and everyone stood up. My friend had on a white sweatshirt, so, it wasn’t doing too good after that. 

But we still went to Starbucks.

Who’s a proud papa? This guy.

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