Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Circle The Jerk: A Proposition

Picture a man. He's quite alone, but he's a circus barker, and he's calling in the crowd. He's introducing the acts, the clowns, the freaks: Muslims. Bad hombres. Inner-city types. A former opponent. The press. The crowd is cheering, and jeering, and pumping their fists. The man rides waves of adulation. He's a showman: he's got a roomful of plates, and he's keeping them spinning, easily, using a word and a wink, a deft insult, a shrug of dismissal. For the first time in a while, he's comfortable. He's at home.

Now pull back. View the same scene from above and pan out. In every direction, men and women are standing. Thousands. They are silent. They are carrying no signs. They are not marching. They are not chanting. They are standing still, with their backs to the circus barker. Their faces are uncovered, but the man will not see them. He is surrounded by people facing away. He is being rejected: much worse, for him, he is being ignored.

The man does not know what to do with this. He knows nothing about love, but requires admiration like oxygen. He will go where he can find it, or he will summon it to him. If he is surrounded by a thousand silent backs, he will try to prod his disciples into acts of provocation. He needs enemies to keep the plates spinning. He may even direct a military element--police, National Guard--to incite a confrontation. But if the thousands, in a ring around him, marshal the power of their own love and conviction and stand firm, in dignity, there will be nothing he can do. Nothing the entire world won't see.

This was the power of Freedom Marchers in Selma. This was the power of the Standing Man in Turkey. This was the power of the Women's March. It was in the people, millions of people, and it was in the peace. This was our tactic.

There are other tactics. Some cover their faces and dress in black and cause as much disruption as they can manage. They're exhilarated by their own violence in the same way the mob around the circus barker is. And they have an effect far out of proportion to their numbers, like a child screaming in a restaurant.

But we've got the numbers. And when we stand silently, facing away, we draw a bright line between ourselves and the mob, the military, the provocateurs.

Let's do it. Let's #circlethejerk.

29 comments:

  1. I can't be there in body, but I'm there in spirit.

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  2. Harder to do than marching with a sign and shaking a fist into the air, this form of rejection could be so powerful. I can see it.

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    1. It's very hard. The Freedom Marchers were drilled on this. They practiced. They practiced being goaded and not fighting back. But they turned it around.

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  3. He really does have a big ego, and no idea what he is doing. But the issues, I think, go broader and deeper than just this man, or just this administration. Brexit and Trump are just the symptoms. The world is changing. There's an excellent TED talk just out on nationalism vs globalism: the new political divide:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/yuval_noah_harari_nationalism_vs_globalism_the_new_political_divide?utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=image__2017-02-21

    It helps to watch this one first so as to understand the terms the guest is using:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/yuval_noah_harari_what_explains_the_rise_of_humans

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    1. Thanks--I'll check them out some late night!

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  4. I like it, Murr. Maybe rejection will prod him into understanding or set him off in a rage, I don't know, but he will react. It is his nature.

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    1. It will not prod him into understanding. Believe me.

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  5. Yes! (she says, as she slowly turns her back and becomes totally silent).

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    1. I seriously doubt we could maintain silentitude, at least at a conversational level, but just facing away and not moving could be powerful.

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  6. Yes! (she says, as she slowly turns her back and becomes totally silent).

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  7. i'm there, but we can't be silent, we need to be visibly turning our backs. Otherwise we'll be included in the already mentioned by him 'silent majority'. Silence can be seen as compliance.

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    1. We definitely need to be turning our backs. I don't think we need to chant. And his mob won't be silent, so we'd stand out.

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  8. He reminds me of a dog chasing a car and suddenly catches it and doesn't have a clue what to do with it.
    The man says he's a winner but he's no leader and silence would confuse him as much as catching that car.

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    1. "I am the least thoughtful person you know. Believe me, nobody is less thoughtful than I am."

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  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_resistance - some other examples maybe? And then there's Gandhi: http://sfr-21.org/gandhi-nonviolence.html

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    1. Ultimately I think this kind of resistance is the most effective. There's a school of thought that holds that one must be disruptive and make people uncomfortable to have an effect, but I see it as mostly giving ammunition to the opposition.

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  10. This is the best way to protest and to convince others of your dedication. But, allowing him to continue with his destruction of the environment and the economy will give his voters pause if not terrified surprise.

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    1. It's extraordinary how thoroughly wrong his plans are. Every one.

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    2. It's hard to believe that he couldn't do ONE SINGLE THING that is good. Amazing. Not in a good way.

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    3. It's like he's Opposite Boy. Whatever is the thing we should be doing, he's...

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