the Architect

You know, I would be a bit more behind all the protesters in Wisconsin except for one small thing, where was everyone 7-months ago when this bill and plan was announced? More would get accomplished, less time would be wasted, and better things done if people actually began to pay attention to the news. And I am not just talking about the US news, although it was printed as a small back page item months ago in several newspapers, but to other news sources – particularly Reuters, the AP, the BBC and Al Jazeera. Follow those news sources and you will be on top of things.

I also think, at this stage of the game, everyone needs to invest some time and a touch of money in any of the various memory exercise programs available, since our collective memory seems to have become remarkably short term.

I have had a few conversations with people about several budget bills that are in front of various local and state governments, as well as the federal bill and the lack of awareness of how bills are created and passed is dismaying. Bills are created for whatever reason, and before they even get to a committee, the process of recruiting support for the bill has begun. This is where all the tacking on of pork begins, “I’ll add your special interest request to my bill if you vote for it.”

By the time the bill reaches committee it already has backers. In committee, it is investigated and more backers are recruited in exchange for more add-ons (most of which are for special interest items that do not even remotely relate to the bill). If the special interests of the committee members cannot be met, or if the political climate is adjudged not to be receptive to the bill, it is killed. By the time the bill is ready to go to the House and Senate, it is already known if it will pass or not. It is not common at all for there to be a surprise reversal. So, when we hear of a proposed bill – the bill is about to enter the Congress and its fate 97% already known.

Small changes may occur to it, but generally speaking, it’s a done deal. This is Civics 101, which is not taught anymore, but the basics of how government functions are covered in the general Social Studies that is taught. Perhaps we should choose to borrow our children’s textbooks for a little, light refresher course.

I suspect concessions will be granted in this case because of the sheer volume of public response. However, because everyone came so late to the party, all the other choices for dessert are gone. I have yet to hear a realistic proposal of how to create the savings that is needed from somewhere else less detrimental to the worker. But most people will not consider that, being on a bandwagon can give to someone an incredible charge of righteousness – unfortunately, part of the brain has to be removed to allow for memorization of slogans to chant.

Echoing in my head is Whoopi Goldberg’s voice when she tells the story about the Ray brothers in regards to the non-response of the public to the horror of the Ray brothers (three hemophiliac brothers with AIDS) who were barred from attending public school, received bomb and death threats and finally, their house burned down to drive them out of the community. In regards to the public response (compared to the absolute pageantry of the response to the Ryan White’s battle to attend school which had occurred that same year) she says, “There was no fervor for the Ray brothers.”

By the way, the Ray brothers’ names were Ricky, Robert and Randy. Ricky died when he was 15. Robert died when he was 22. Randy, as of three years ago, is still living and manages his illness with medication.

Few people remember the Ray brothers, but Ryan White is enshrined as a victim of intolerance, ignorance and hate as well as the AIDs epidemic because the public voice gathered together to cry out in protest for how he was treated.

My point being that for everything we jump on the bandwagon for, there is more that needs to be attended too. Most of the things come without media coverage or mass protests; most are lonely journeys of action to try and bring change. Quiet, hard work that makes use of the attention to detail that we give the life around us.

These mass protests in Wisconsin, I wonder how many of the people participating will continue to educate themselves and participate in the process of trying to find a better way to resolve our problems? Not many. Half of them are only there because it is the “thing to do” and gives them the easy validation of “being politically active and socially aware.” Many are driven by a vague idea of “f-k the man” without even understanding how their act of protest is controlled and directed by “the man.” In fighting the establishment, our so called radicals use methods that have become a part of the establishment but fail to notice that what they are doing is hardly radical, rarely effective and easily managed by the powers that be. Unlike Egypt and the Middle East, public gathering and protesting is the norm here. It just won’t cause the shock waves it does in places were it is prohibited. Even our riots are nothing to get excited about for they mostly consist of those rioting destroying the places they live. This is not the 60s where protests and riots were shocking exercises in public voice. Public protest and riots have been annexed by conformity.

Protesting is perhaps the smallest and least important aspect of political and social activism, by the time there is a need for a public protest, things have been allowed to go too far unchecked and without challenge. More people need to make the effort to be involved; to make their voice heard when these hare-brained bills are but ideas. The information about their creation is there from the get-go. It just takes a little bit of regular effort to stay informed.

If you were following along the comments on the facebook posting of yesterday’s blog “The Madness of Desire” you know that Jen and I began to have a dialogue about definitions of love that then sort of segued into one about emotions and so on and so forth.

I have managed to up and distract myself with all this about Wisconsin, but I will get back to it over the course of the week.

The Architect

In my life,
I have built whole cities from scraps of words
quilted into phrases
and baled into walls.
Knitting them strong corners
with wire from broken dreams,
I have built rooms of echoes
and forgotten things.

Stacking bricks of phrases,
I imagine these jumbles
to be architectural wonders,
when my life
would be better served
to realize,
they are temporary.

People come to live here
convinced
I have saved their history,
adorned it,
and made altars in their names.
I soften the oubliettes
hidden among my false rooms
with cushions of soiled letters
that speak of love
and end in doom
to make these forgotten rooms
places my travelers
long to be.

To forget and remember at once.
To live in a dream
and bear no responsibility.
It’s what they come here for.

With blank sheet I wander,
pencil sharp and ready
to reject all I see that is real
and transform it into
shelters of should be.

Even though,
my buildings list
on uneven foundations,
everyone walks about
with their arms extended,
to catch themselves
should they fall,
as if this state of things
were normal
and to be expected.

I build because
I have nothing better to do.

Do you believe that?
You shouldn’t because it’s a lie.

I build because
behind the gates of the east city,
the one that is locked
and no one may enter
without me –
I am building
a city of jewels
and solid foundations,
windows that stretch far into the sky,
floors that are warm,
walls that are cool
and there are no forgotten rooms to find.

Everything there
is crafted with skill
down to the smallest detail.

And everything out here,
all my paper walls and leaning roofs,
has been remade but with care.

Made to last until the end of time.

And people live there,
yes they do,
I seem to be the only one
interested in outside.
People live there,
anyone can move in,
all you have to do,
is realize the extent of
these paper lies
and tell me you desire
more permanent rooms.

c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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