I write this post after taking in two full evenings of testimony before the Howard County Council on CB9-2017. This has been one of the most amazing, intense experiences I have ever witnessed in Howard County. The atmosphere was beyond any local or even state-level testimony I have ever been a part of. This atmosphere has the energy and tension of something found in DC, perhaps a rally at the steps of the Supreme Court? I am also reminded of a Thursday afternoon ritual in Buenos Aires, Argentina. One which I once participated in. Weekly, marches and rallies occur at the foot of the Argentine Presidential palace, the Casa Rosada, to remember political prisoners who have never been seen again. They're known in Argentina as "the disappeared ones."
What do I feel after digesting two full (and I mean full!) nights of testimony, live, on TV and online, and then, adding today's Inauguration activities to boot?
I feel like the rules of engagement have changed. I feel like discourse in our community has changed. I feel that the appetite for insurgency and for wanting to do things differently than they ever had been before did not bypass Howard County. No, far from it, as during the CB9 testimony, many of the same methods by which passions were expressed during the national elections showed themselves locally.
Now, there are some who will blame one person or another for their actions. There's an especially entertaining, small cadre of people on in Howard County who blame all this CB9 kerfuffle squarely at one person's feet. And that entertaining, small cadre would be wrong. People are responsible for their choices and their decisions and their actions. And while I'm sure the actions of the persecuted person affect all the cadre's little sensibilities, those actions themselves are not responsible for the reactions. In a world of reason, "he/she started it" is simply not a permissible defense, much less a noble one.
So what we have seen this week in Howard County are two poverties. There is literal poverty in the socioeconomic sense. Such as evidenced by a husband and wife arguing as my son and I left the hearing Tuesday night. Here's what I heard, with the husband leading:
"Who did that little fa**** think he is, telling me to be quiet? I can do whatever I want to do."
"Then why don't you go back in there and listen?"
"I don't want to, that's why."
"But I thought you wanted to say something?"
"Oh, you just go to hell."
Sounds like the lady is already there.
And the second poverty is that of reason. To draw out the argument I make above, I submit this. We all follow certain norms. We get up, feed ourselves, take care of our hygienic needs, dress, and go to work. We know that red means "stop" and green means "go". It's not like someone says, one day, that red means "go, and do it in reverse gear", or that green means "go into the other lane".
But that's where we are in our discourse. Our norms are changed. What was unacceptable is now acceptable. It's now acceptable to shout. It's now acceptable to denigrate. It's now acceptable to consider someone as "less than" you because the other person differs from you politically.
And this is hypocrisy in it's purest form. It is the height of hypocrisy, in fact, to work to deny people basic protections and considerations, while at the same time, pleading for those same considerations for yourself. To loudly and obnoxiously and disgustingly, advocate denying an entire population access to health care, for example, while at the same time, flaunting the fact that you yourself have health insurance and asking for "thoughts and prayers" while your loved one is in the hospital-- this thing is the height of arrogance and far from the mark of a humble, decent human being.
Howard County is blessed to be relatively free of the first type of poverty. But the second type-- the far more dangerous, insidious type-- I find to be, frighteningly, quite commonplace. Quite disgusting is that this second poverty seems to be encouraged by a number of fairly intelligent people who should know better. And to what end? For a political cause? For the cause of some elected official? Are these causes ones that justify the actions? Do they justify redefining the rules? Apparently so, and this being the case, a response by those who would oppose this number is invited and justified.
So where does this go? The path to success in overcoming this civic bullying is action. Positive, swift, certain action. Don't "be there in spirit" or "wish I could be there". Yes, you have stuff. We all have stuff. Be present. Attend. Speak. Stand. Write. Connect. Throughout the course of history, no progress has ever, ever been made without concerted, coordinated action. This is not an activity for sitting on the sidelines. This is a participatory effort.
When will you need to activate next? Watch the skies.
And let's be careful out there.
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