“WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE”
Penned Will Shakespeare in “The Tempest.” Meaning, everything that has come before leads us to this moment in time, the beginning of a new story. So roll with it, right? A lot of wisdom in those four words.
We’ve had some pretty crazy “past” lately, haven’t we? Let’s give ourselves credit for dealing with a lot. I believe history will judge that the last six years brought more radical change in America than perhaps any other period, with the possible exception of the Civil War and its aftermath, and maybe the declaration of and war for independence from England’s King George. (Both of those long-past events have a lot to do with where we find ourselves now.)
I’m probably not alone in having gone through these last six years with a lot of disbelief, despair and anger. I’m not the best guy on the planet for letting go. But I do eventually. It’s time, right now. 2022, it can be all new. If we choose that.
Forgiveness is crucial. Not forgiveness that’s dependent on people changing their ways or saying they are sorry. That’s easy peasy. No, forgiveness for those who spit in your eye and refuse to even consider change.
I will take wisdom and inspiration anyplace I can find it. I often sneak a look at my horoscope in the LA Times, not to guide my day but to look for a timeless nugget. Monday’s was pretty good, I thought.
“You’ll be faced with contradictions between what you believe and what’s occurring. You can’t change reality; the beliefs have to move.”
ACTION FOLLOWS PERCEPTION
Insight from the couch or meditation mat is a good start, but only that. Becoming informed and understanding that information accurately are necessary, but that’s not where you can stop.
We are in a war, for our planet, our children, our democracy, our very souls. If you think that’s hyperbole, I suggest seeking out more information, and a few more sessions on that meditation mat. It’s OK if you’re a little behind the news. Things are moving pretty fast these days.
When diplomacy fails, war can result, and war requires the participation of all citizens and resources. All hands on deck. Our leaders have been working tirelessly, but like LeBron on a lazy Laker team, one star can’t do it alone.
It’s not convenient, not what we want. War never is. But the alternatives are horrifying. We all can see Santa Monica is a pretty mess, and America is looking more and more like 1930s Germany. Escalating weather assaults bring us terrible destruction and suffering, nearly every day.
The greatest leaders of the last half century had everything going against them. No chance of success. Nelson Mandela in prison for 27 years. Gandhi taking on world superpower Great Britain without firing a shot. Matin Luther King Jr. adopting Gandhi’s non-violent tactics to fight 350 years of institutionalized American slavery and racism. Desmond Tutu laughing and dancing his way to great influence. A 16-year-old Greta Thunberg shaming world leaders at the UN – “how dare you! – you have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words” – and when climate change denier-in-chief Donald Trump passed by her, she gave him a fierce stink eye for the ages.
‘NEVER GIVE UP”
– Coach Jim Valvano, facing certain death from incurable cancer. But always with that big smile, always encouraging others. These people and others, fighting for a dream, inspire me. It’s so much easier to throw in the towel, when it looks impossible. But that’s not the way it works. You lose, lose, lose, until you win. When you understand that, you gain the courage to keep putting one foot in front of the other, until you get there. And you understand you can make it a loving, even joyous journey.
Here are some of my Santa Monica dreams (I have plenty more CA, USA and Mother Earth ones too)
Santa Monica citizenry, not the entitled drifters-through but all those people who care so passionately about this very special city, who stand up and demand that growth here be necessary and reasonable, serving the residents, not the demands of greedy developers. A City staff that supports that goal, not one that obfuscates information and thwarts it. Seven City council members who will get it done, because they are working only for us. They each need a full-time assistant. (Fire a few staff lawyers.)
A SMMUSD and School Board that cares more about students and the community and our unique history, than for shiny new buildings that can generate income. Teaching the right lessons with their administration. (The kids are watching…) Offering facts and figures to the community, not covering them up, for a transparent decision-making process. A rejection of more nine-figure bond measures for Samohi (or what’s left of it), because of the shocking way in which they have handled past monies. To those ends, a completely new School Board, next election. School Board, City Council, Sacramento and DC: we must elect only people who will absolutely pledge to work for residents, residents only.
Finding real solutions to homelessness and crime destroying our once-great city, that are restorative for all. Attack Sacramento interference, money-driven; get creative with our own zoning and other ordinances. Fight back. Be bold. Other communities are doing much better than we are. Let’s copy the best from all over the world, shoving political considerations up against the wall. We have lost our precious diversity and it is so sad that lifelong residents are being forced out for outside investment, but let’s put a finger in the dike at least.
Remember how many of us hoped and prayed that the sudden restrictions of a pandemic, with quarantine and work at home and drastic environmental, economic and other changes, might expose our habitual failings and lead to new ways of doing things? Didn’t happen. Must now. Time has run out. We need Greta at a City Council meeting, and at the assembly in Sacramento, crying “Shame on you!”
But we can all be Greta, and now must. We need each and every one of us. Raising our voices, taking action, putting it all on the line. Sounds like too much work? How much work will there be when sea level rise takes away our beaches and a few thousand of our homes?
It can and must be a joyous endeavor. Let go of the anger and pain, if only because that doesn’t work. This is a time in history for everyday heroes. “Take the world in a love embrace.” We’re in for a wild ride, but we were all born to be wild.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com