BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Like the three wishes from a genie, right? Beware the unintended consequences. You are a global-thinking humanist, and you want to end the evil of hunger throughout the world. An unbelievable opportunity! So you wish for it.
And your genie kills everyone on the planet who is hungry. Oops.
I can’t say that for the last few decades since college, I have tucked myself into bed every night with the prayer that this sorry, violent, unfair, divided, unconscious evil world would correct all its missteps and shine with the love light of billions of good souls. But I kept hope alive.
Maybe I was thinking too small. Just get us out of Vietnam, I prayed back then. Oh, and bring down the oppressive capitalist system in Amerika, please. Yeah, those two, would be fine for now.
RADICALIZED THOUGH I BECAME
My last years in college and after, I was never quite convinced of that ‘60s total revolution, cops are pigs, dump capitalism thing. The revolutionaries all had different visions. I had a cousin who was a cop in Phoenix and he was one of the finest humans I’ve ever known, and he chuckled grimly at the terrible incompetence of the LAPD. I never had it all in for capitalism, just unfettered capitalism, which is the variety the one percent prefers, and has their bought politicians maintain. Though I should have realized that as a writer, and especially a music journalist, capitalism in any form was not going to do me any favors.
I feel I am as “radical” now as then (I skipped the whole me me me ‘70s evolution into mainstream married mortgage-slave corporate ladder climber), but let’s keep a little perspective, shall we? In Europe I would be considered only slightly left of center. There are no real leftists in the U.S. (shhh! — don’t tell the Republicans, it would spoil their fun), who could get even 1000 votes.
I‘ve always, to this day, felt my outlook was just common sense, if your bedrock is that we are all the same, brothers and sisters, deserving of equal, compassionate treatment. In our hearts and under the law. You have to think that through, and I did. We pay that notion only lip service in this country — we were founded on those ideas 244 years ago, weren’t we? All those well intentioned white male slaveholders wrote it down in a couple of documents we say we revere (but don’t). Our history, to this day, belies it.
But that has been, to many Americans of little or no color, the Big Secret, hidden even to themselves, until now. Sorry. Cat’s out of the bag. A very large number of Yanks are still refusing to accept it, even though that makes it hard to explain why all those people are out in the streets marching, every day for two weeks, numbers growing, seemingly pretty upset about… something. In more than 400 cities in every state of the union, in more than 50 countries on every continent except Antarctica (lazy apathetic Chinstrap penguins!), hundreds of thousands are marching for real equality. Time’s up. Not waiting any longer. We set our alarm clock for 400 years and it went off last year.
I’D LIKE TO TAKE CREDIT
For keeping the faith, but I would have to go to the back of a very long line. And wave a very small banner. Besides, I’d have to take responsibility for a few things I would rather not: a worldwide pandemic that has killed 115,000 Americans (2M infections) with no sign of miraculously being bleached away anytime soon, the resultant economic disaster resulting from it that has left more than 40M Americans on unemployment, many families without even food, and the spark, the murder of even more unarmed black Americans, particularly George Floyd. His name, his sacrifice, will never be forgotten. Suddenly, spontaneously, the vast majority of people in the world declared, that’s it, this is the limit, no more. No more demonstrations and thoughts and prayers and then back to normal.
NO MORE BACK TO NORMAL
That’s been the theme of my columns here for a couple of months now. The pandemic forced us to realize and acknowledge how toxic our normal was, to remember that the climate change clock is ticking away a few final years before the state of Florida disappears and they all move here for the palm trees (hey! come to Santa Monica, we’ve been trying to mimic Miami Beach for about a decade now, getting close). I figured if we had enough people die, and lose their livelihoods, that just might be the combination terrible enough to spark a complete reset on what had become a terminal lifestyle for Mother Earth. A monumental sacrifice, but not for naught if it saves the planet. I refer you again to “The Great Realisation,” now approaching 30M views, out in the fall in book form.
But being a white guy, I guess I lumped racism in with all the “normals” I prayed we would disappear. When I should have moved it to the top of the mountain. It is, after all, our Original Sin in America. And now I believe that if we can see and finally bury that one, well, fossil fuels, plastic-filled oceans, hunger and disease, are slam dunks. But there is resistance. I see so much of it on social media. Good people who haven’t yet figured out that “all lives matter” is missing the point entirely. A couple of years ago I didn’t get it until my daughter lovingly schooled me, so I try to be gentle with others. This may take time. BUT IT CAN’T. The time is NOW.
Two jobs right now, as I see it, for the planet, the nation, and our beloved Santa Monica. Move quickly and without compromise to identify and change everything that doesn’t serve us, ALL of us. Prisons, governing bodies, health care, education, the police, everything. Service. Serve us. This is tough work but there has never been anything more important. Let’s go.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org