The Politics of the Personal

¡Hola! Everybody…
It’s a hard thing to imagine – to have to choose whether to “pull the plug” on your own child and let her die, or to keep her in a vegetative state…

Today is a short repost I wrote some years ago, followed by a brief interesting story I came across.

* * *

(Think Peace founder Caitland Orr & friends)

-=[ Politics ]=-
“The personal is political.”

The personal, as some are so fuckin’ fond of saying, is political. Therefore, if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you love, take it personally.

Get Angry.

The “Machinery of Justice” will not serve you here — it is slow and unfeeling, and it is theirs — all of it. Only those without access to power suffer at the hand of Justice; the creatures of the power elite slide out from under with a wink and a grin.

If you want Justice, or even fairness, you will have to snatch it from them.

Make it personal.

Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way you stand a far better chance of being taken seriously next time — of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous, marks the difference — the only difference in their eyes — between players and the little people. They don’t give a damn about respect — respect has no value for them. You have to make them fear and loathe you.

Players they will make their deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again, they justify your liquidation, your displacement, your suffering, and the brutality of it all with the ultimate insult that it’s the way of the world, it’s politics, it’s a tough life, it’s “just business,” and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck that…

Make it personal.



Postscript: Getting Involved (Making it Personal)

I often hear adults complain that there’s nothing to be done — that the system is rigged and why bother. “You’re being naïve, Eddie, you can’t change the world,” some say outright. It amazes me to no end. It’s also embarrassing when you see young people taking responsibility in ways adults refuse to even think about. The following story should make you rethink your learned helplessness…

“Do We Really Want a Million New Terrorists?” I read every morning on an antiwar ad my mother had hung on our refrigerator door. “No way,” my friends and I agreed, but we couldn’t figure out how best to do our part to prevent the invasion of Iraq.

At last, it dawned on me: I could post these ads at school to get students involved with the peace movement. I posted at least 30 copies, and several of my teachers readily agreed to pin them up in their rooms. By the end of the day, though, all of the outside posters had either been torn down by the school administration or destroyed with phrases such as “Kill Saddam,” and “Attack Iraq Now, I Want Cheaper Oil.” I had to find a more permanent, unique, and involving way to protest.

What better way is there to get through to high school students than fashion? I reasoned. The Think Peace T-shirt was born. The shirt was black with a white peace sign on the front. It read: “Think Peace. Support the Anti-War Movement.” The back of the shirt displayed my favorite bumper sticker slogan: “War doesn’t decide who’s right, only who’s left.” Within a week, I had 58 orders from students and teachers eager to make a stand against the war. I asked people to wear the shirts every Friday.

The first Friday that students and teachers wore the shirts, the action was controversial. However, immediately, more orders came in. Friends said wearing the shirts made them feel they were at least doing something. I put in a second order. And then a third.

To the dismay of too many teachers, students, and administrators, my Think Peace shirts came out in full force every Friday. “Why are you so unpatriotic?” some of my classmates accused. “If I wasn’t patriotic,” I replied, “then why would I care what my country was doing?”

Two weeks later, I was interviewed by Daniel Yi, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. I discussed the obstacles I’d faced — for example, my high school principal informed me that I couldn’t sell the shirts on campus, and one offended teacher requested a permanent substitute on Fridays (emphasis added). After the interview, Yi told me he was impressed that a high school student could spark such a great debate. His article appeared on the front page of the “California” section of the Times.

Almost instantly letters and emails came in from admiring strangers. A friend helped me create a Think Peace website (click here to visit her website)and I ordered Think Peace business cards. I was interviewed by others in the media and contacted by amazing people. I was the youngest honoree of four at the yearly “Women Making a Difference in Orange County” awards ceremony, where I received commendations from our congresswoman and state senator. At peace rallies, I began to see my shirts worn by strangers. By my last count, over 700 people have bought a shirt, and I’m just getting ready to put in a new order.

People say I inspired them, but I just gave them a way to express the feelings they already had bottled up inside. When I started out, I felt like a nobody, but now I feel I’ve made a significant stand for something I feel passionate about. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.” For me it all just started with “thinking peace.”

Make it personal…


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