Saturday, May 13, 2006

The experiment continues. Ying Lee Kelly, who worked in Ron Dellum's office for years when he was in Congress, once told me that all things being equal vote for the candidate of color because they are more likely to remember. They are less likely to get to"Hey, I have a nice car and lots of respect and lobbyists' perks. Works for me. There are no problems." She didn't say, to me, that one reason for being less likely to forget is that people of color of whatever rank are likely to get some insults and unfairness to remind them of the skewness of this society.

I didn't need that fine advice to vote for Kamala Harris, women of color, for DA in SF. It helped but all I really needed was my assumption that she doesn't drink too much and my assumption that her incumbent opponent, with the face of someone who drinks too much, did. But the woman and of color stuff was lovely also.

I hope she doing a fabulous job. I don't really know, or know how to judge, because it's an impossible job.

But the cool thing is that she can and does look sad in public, when talking about murders. Guys can only look stern or angry. Sad is excellent and I'm glad to see it. I hadn't thought of that as a byproduct of not having every single job with power go to white guys. You get some not-white-guy style which is more accurate.

Kamala Harris doesn't cry in public, a well-known political kiss of death in the USA. But I saw her picture all big in the newspaper talking about a murder and she looked really sad.

Famous guys at famous funerals look very blank, and we're supposed to read that as sad. But the human face can look out and out sad, and sometimes that's a very logical way to look. A logical way to look far more available to one gender than the other in this society.

When I've been at all woman multi-day gatherings, one thing I really notice is that people cry. People laugh, and people cry and it's not a deal. The people may be crying about something really heavy, talking to a friend, but it feels okay. It doesn't feel like all order and reason is threatened by this person crying.

Because it isn't. Crying is built into the body and the difficulties of life. I think men in this society tend to keel over from stress diseases in their middle age because of tears-unshed and other feelings turned into a blank face earlier. The stress that can't come out little by little in real time comes out big later.

I think sometimes the non-criers hurt more than themselves. The sad possible consequences, the consequences that might bring tears to many are sternly ignored in the decision making process. The results are all around us.

But the DA of SF looks sad in public and in that and lots of other ways, things are changing.

In 1991, right after the Gulf War, I went to an event at a church basement in Berkeley (the Unitarian Church on Cedar) where they showed videos of bomb damage from the war taken by people who were there. I remember the one of a guy standing by the rubble of his house and saying, "You say you want to teach us a lesson. What's the lesson?" I remember the camera doing closeups of the faces of little kids sleeping and then pulling back to show that this was a bombed day care center and these kids were dead.

After the video showing was over, the first person who spoke from the audience was a woman who said, "I feel such grief. . ." The event was run by a guy who interrupted her right there and said, "Let's turn that grief to anger!" Shut her up good. I thought if I'd been truly on it, I would have invited people who wanted to feel grief as well as anger to go meet at a nearby coffee house afterwards. I didn't.

All the missing decisions that are created by all the missing styles of making decisions.

There's more than one way to run a world. Many different ways have been tried and are being tried. Many ways have never been tried because their are styles of living and breathing and thinking that have not been combined with out-and-out standard-brand. But now, slowly, some different people and different styles are getting a chance. This is the beginning of the beginning.

The experiment continues.

When Jonathan Demme was promoting the film he directed, "The Silence of the Lambs," in which Jodie Foster plays an FBI agent, he said someone like Foster's character in an institution like the FBI, "walks through the sandpaper of the patriarchy" every minute of her working life.

Patriarchy sandpaper isn't the only kind. All of them, the sandpaper of the patriarchy, the sandpaper of racism, the sandpaper of you gotta be straight and on and on, not only abrade and are unfair to the people scrapped and put them in a place where it would be perfectly reasonable for them to be mad all the time, they take knowledge that the whole society needs out of play. You can't be that way, think that way, look that way and have power and influence. But some of those ways are just the ways of living needed to get humanity out of the scary hole we're in.

The experiment continues.

** Gandhi said he had a huge temper, and he should have known, right? One time him and his temper and his training as a lawyer and his Hinduism sat all night in a railroad station, duking it out. He couldn't use the train ticket he's paid for because of his color and his Indianness in South Africa where he was living. He could go down a class or get off the train.

He got off the train. Usually when I'm mad I think of specific dumb things I'd like to do. Gandhi didn't clue us in on options he thought of in his long railroad station night. He just told us about the answer--non-violent resistance. Which has given people in general a whole other way to participate in world history.

This solution included his temper--anger wants to act, and this acts and can act big, though he always said, never from anger. Anger isn't the way, he said, and he should know since in his naturally occuring form, before he worked on himself, he had lots.

This solution included his lawyerness--lawing is partly about finding a non-violent solution. That night he took on some new clients--the Indians mistreated in South Africa. Later he took on further clients--the Indians mistreated in India.

He continues to take on clients. Some key US civil rights people read Gandhi; he continues to be available and used. Though people don't have to read Gandhi to do what he thought in the railroad station. There is now a wide and long history of non-violent resistance changing history that people can draw on.

People used to like to trash Gandhi's success against the British saying the British were relatively nice and it wouldn't work in less nice places. Those people certainly would not have accepted the idea that non-violent resistence would have a lot to do with the end of the Iron Curtain shutdown of millions of peoples rights to speak, travel, think, run businesses, leave the country where they were born.

Temper plus lawyer plus Hindu. Hinduism has lots of gods and the divine moment is right here present in many forms. Hindus expect their holy people to get out among the people and do stuff. Move now among the many people to make holiness real in another of the many manifold ways. Hindus aren't waiting for the book--they want holiness made read among them.

Gandhi's Hindu word for what is in English "non-violent resistence" is the Hindi for "truthlove."

Truth, love, action, lots of people put together--new things become possible.

Gandhi's night in the railway station, not in a long run a fit of temper but a hard won alternative to fits of temper for him and many others, wasn't just about that railway station that train.

He trained as a lawyer in London; he could practice anywhere in the British Empire. Churchill who really disliked Gandhi was much less good at British education than Gandhi was. Gandhi got that education in law that implies this is all based on fairness, but there must have been lots of sandpaper moments for him as an Indian in London showing the severe limits of fairness. And he got to see the limits of fairness for poor Brits who at the time he was in London were much short and smaller than rich Brits because of food.

He got the lawyer degree, but he'd been in London long enough to know he was forever limited in that system by who he was, by where he was born, who his ancestors were. He did us all an immense favor by blending those things with his lawyer training to seek to resolve things without the use of automatic weapons, and coming up with a new way to make the world new.