Step Carefully

It’s funny how you have three or four different conversations that all seem to come back around to being about the same thing.  And the conversations I’ve had lately are about, in part, how we let language become a gate rather than a bridge.  How can I make you understand me?  How can I understand you?  v. How can you prove you’re on my side?  How can I prove I’m on yours.

I don’t have any great profound thoughts on that.  I just notice it.

It might have been unwise to plant the strawberries while it was still dipping below 32.  Might have.  God.  Just call me Death Thumb.  But I swear, NM, I will get your tomatoes started.  Really.  I don’t kill every plant I touch.

The problem is that, even as cold as it is, it smells like spring all over my neighborhood.  You can smell something about the dirt and damp and rich and ready.

I have to admit, I’m rethinking where to put the garden.  I had thought that putting it clear out back beyond the creek by the greenhouse in the sunny spot was the way to go, but I’ve got to be honest with you, we haven’t done jack shit about getting the well in working order, which means, there’s no easy way to get water out that far.  I’m not even sure, even if the well was in working order, that the pipes out to that part of the yard are still in working order.  So, all in all, how to water out there?  I don’t know.

It would mean moving where we hook the dog up, but I’m kind of thinking of putting it either right between the house and the oak or in front of the Butcher’s art studio.  I’m leaning towards in front of the Butcher’s art studio, but I’m going to have to talk to him about it.  Either way, I want to decide soon and get the ground tilled and the beds ready.

I keep thinking about the systems, the frameworks we operate in.  About how we so readily plug into those roles we know how to play.  You be EmmyLou and I’ll be Gram, as the song says.  And how we work out this bullshit on each other and call it social justice.  When really, it’s theater, evil theater.

I was thinking about this again, reading Chris’s piece over at Grand Divisions.  Sanders says:

That’s the tension. GLBT folks in Tennessee are angry about the demeaning, discriminatory bills we are facing in the Legislature. But if we show anger for even just a moment, we’re suddenly the angry gays. As a minority group in a get-along/go-along culture, we have had to stay in a tight box of appearing gentle, reasonable, polite, perhaps even begging. If we stray out of that box, our words become completely eclipsed.

And there’s a lot more good stuff there.  I encourage you to read the whole post.  But this kind of gets at what I mean.  Here are these roles we play and, like Sanders points out, if you don’t play the good person, you are forced into the role of bad person.

The solution is, obviously, to resist slipping into either role.  To just be yourself genuinely and try to be good to the world and let people reckon with that.

I don’t know.  Somedays I look at this here blog and I think “What difference does this make?” and I want to be honest with you.  I am fucked up and I fuck up and I don’t know as much as I claim to or as much as I should.  Consider the strawberries, if you will.  I don’t see blogging as being necessarily a very good tool for social justice, in and of itself.  But I have good friends I otherwise wouldn’t have had.  I’m sitting in a house a blogger helped me find.  My yard and garden will look how they look because of things we discuss here.

So, I do feel like blogging makes a big difference.  But I also feel like it doesn’t make any difference at all.  And I suspect both things are true.

You just do the best you can, I guess.  And, if it doesn’t work, try again.

So, yeah, I’m leaning towards in front of the shed.  I need to talk to the Butcher about it, though.  It may mean moving the camper.

2 thoughts on “Step Carefully

  1. I need to say this quickly, because I have to go to the dentist in a few minutes and I don’t want to lose this thought, B.

    Blogging makes a big difference. It is conversation. It is intellectual and emotional sharing. It is the exchange of ideas. Let me focus on the LGBT issue you used as an example. There are a lot of folks who don’t think of the issues Chris talks about; at least they don’t think of them in the terms Chris uses. So all these issues– issues that are affected and that affect politics and legislation, things that in turn affect people’s lives– are presented to people in factual and emotional ways that they may never have approached without reading about them at Chris’s blog or your blog. So small changes are made in people’s way of looking at things, and maybe some of those people change the way they act and talk about these things.

    Blogs like Pandagon are incredibly valuable to me, because the bloggers there approach the intersections of all these issues (political, social, etc.) with wonderful weapons of profundity, wit, and intellect. They make me think about things in new ways.

    Likewise, B., you are indispensable. You bring a human touch to these same issues, a human touch that doesn’t bury itself in the wonkish aspects of policy (not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily). You do this with strength, humanity, and humility, and you welcome all points of view who are willing to enter your space with a reasonable amount of respect for you and for others.

    I’m rambling now, so if I have a point it is this: this shit you’re doing is important, and it is important because you are the one doing it and because you are doing it your way. No one of us is going to change things on our own, but we can all contribute to making incremental changes that add up to something larger. The ACLU and SPLC and others like them will fight our big battles in the courts, but it is people like you, B., who make victories possible by affecting hearts and minds one at a time. Real social justice needs to work at that basic, interpersonal level, too.

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