Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pursuit of power

June 17, 1980

You get inspired and then “poof!” it’s gone.
We all get scared. We all get moments when fear shakes us and rattles us deep down in the bones, so our very fiber gets entwined with self-doubt.
I look towards a tomorrow I can’t predict, wondering if I will ever make my living as a writer.
The bills tumble in, some of them bearing large red letters that catch my eye regardless of where I sit in this two room cold water flat.
Poverty is not a condition that inspires pride – for all the talk we hear about starving artists.
Merrill at work is classic working class, condemning people on welfare, but doesn’t understand the cause, nor sees just how close to falling off the edge we all are.
It’s her class that condemns other poor people. Perhaps because they are jealous and think the welfare poor are getting away with something the working poor can’t, and do not realize that we are all trapped in the same rat trap, while the wealthy hold the key.
“It’s time for a revolution,” one of the other workers says, sounding like a Soviet, but would punch me in the nose if I called him one.
Another slams his box down and agrees with Merrill: “It’s time to make the son of a bitches work for what they get.”
The sweat drips down his face and into his eyes after two or three hours of straight unloading trucks.
I feel the rage as much as I see it, as it broods and breeds, like a stew cooking in a sealed pot, waiting to explode, and no telling who will get hurt when it does – most likely the wrong people.
I keep thinking about one of the kids at college, who had come up from the south, where they get a different take on the American Civil War. They even have a different name for it. He said the war was about what kind of slavery people wanted in America, industrial or property slave. And that by winning, the north simply created a new version called wage slaves.
“And which is better, property slavery where you got a master who you know and who at least sees you as valuable property, or wage slave where nobody gives a shit about you at all?” he asked.
The idea that we can rise up out of our class is bullshit, he said.
“We got a lot more kids going to college, and then going onto jobs that don’t mean anything,” he said. “Sometimes, they make money. Mostly they don’t. But those kids aren’t going to get where the rich kids get.”
This is some talk for someone like me who gave up working class life on the hope that I might make the transition out of the class in which I was born.
My friend says college won’t cure anything soon, but will become something so unaffordable to most that it will be unattainable to those who it can help most.
Nobody from my class will ever get real power without taking it. Some may get famous – a movie star, a basketball star, a lottery winner, but no one will ever take any of us seriously when it comes to power.
In all this talk, I note the words that are missing – such as happiness, contentment, satisfaction. Even justice and faith seem to have no place in the concept of pursuit of power.
And down here, where we all struggle to pay our bills, it’s us against them, only it’s not right them we’re against, and there’s no way of convincing any of those I work beside that they are blaming the wrong people.

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