This Summer and Fall, until November 3rd, Im going to be a personal political activist. That's sort of a therapist for my politically apathetic friends and acquaintances.
I like to make my social and political contributions directly to those who need my help. I also give money to people on the street, even though I know they may be buying drugs and booze to make themselves feel good. Whats wrong with that? I indulge myself every so often.
Last week I made the most satisfying political campaign contribution of this early election season. I did my first personal activist intervention for the election of John Kerry to President. I took a friend, who is renowned for her spiritually inspired apathy to politics and her loathing of politicians, to see Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. It was like giving money to a hungry person on the street rather than to a charity with a staff full of professional fundraisers.
She sat quietly and attentively during the film. So quiet in fact I worried she was going to run out of the theater in shock. People in the audience were loudly agreeing with Michael Moores depiction of the political world and slimy oiligarchy businesses surrounding George W. Bush before and after his appointed Presidency. They were awed into profound silence by the lack of images and use of audio tracks of Sept 11th. They hissed at Rumsfeld, Cheney, Ashcroft, and of course the Bushy boy himself.
None of this affected my friend at all. She sat their stone-faced, gripping the armrests, like a handcuffed prisoner of war being forced to watch a strip tease.
I wondered if she was resisting the film or perhpas the audience. Afterwards we went out for a drink and discussed F-911 and its issues. I was astonished at her first critical comment. She didnt believe Lila was a real person. "Lila mustve been staged, it was too perfect."
I assured her Lilas story is real and a circumstance of great luck for any documentarian following a story through a real life. "But she was so full of emotion," my friend continued, "how could she behave like that in front of a c amera?"
We talked on about Lila and the other real life players. She didnt know about the Bushes priveleged Saudi business and family connections. She didnt know that not one U.S. Senator had objected to the Supreme Courts decision to stop the vote recount in Florida. She didnt know that George W. Bush sat puzzled and paralyzed in an elementary school classroom when he heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. She didnt know a lot of things because she had avoided politics because, as she said, "its so ugly and full of shady lawyers and businessmen. I have to transcend that sewer. I have to, or Ill never do my own work. Ill be trapped by depression at my countrys horrible leaders."
My goal by the end of the night was to convince her that only if we all vote would money and big business lose its invidious influence over politicians. Thats theres are other emerging political and social organizations that can through a cleaner, more aware government provide education, health care, security, environmental protection and jobs to everyone living in America and offer hope for those beyond our borders.
Did it work? I think I made her think about things shed been avoiding for years. Will she vote in November? I hope so. I'll keep in touch with her and a number of other friends who are apathetic, angry and alienated from politics. Hopefully talking about the issues and candidates will provoke them to vote the way they really think the country should progress after the disaster of the Bushes.
But I know something else. I must keep talking, keep being the personal activist. Its the only way for me to make sure a few more people vote and think politics can change things for the better. Who knows, they just may become personal activists themselves.
Later this week I plan to take another friend to see F-911. This one voted for Nader last time because he became convinced there wasnt see any difference between the major party candidates. I wonder what hell think this time? [Litt]
If you have any comments or want to notify me about performances or shows, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2004 Larry Litt
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