The Weight of Inaction is Inactivating
You may notice that over the last few days, I haven’t been really been posting substantively. Big changes are afoot in the worlds of surveillance and campaign finance. American hunger is set to grow as food stamp cuts kick in without an expansion of jobs for the hungry to fill. Faced with these changes, I’m experiencing a new emotion: I’m stymied. I can’t bear to write about these subjects any longer. I’m retreating to articles about bowling bag spam and paid placement and inconsistencies in web hosting terms of service. This is meaningless. I’m retreating into meaninglessness. I’m taking refuge in meaninglessness.
I came back home on Sunday from a national march in Washington, DC against massive surveillance. I was not buoyed by the experience. I was cowed. It’s not polite to mention, but I’ll mention it because someone has to say it: the turnout to the march was absolutely dismal. At its peak, the march had attracted somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 participants. It wasn’t hard to count the crowd; it wasn’t that kind of an overwhelming march. I stood on the monument to Christopher Columbus outside Union Station and could see everyone within my field of vision. My daughter and I alone were able to add one tenth of 1% to the crowd. This does not make the march or its subject matter insignificant — but it does make the amount of inaction in this country in the face of bold-face bad news very depressing. Consider that supposedly, over 100 national organizations were behind this march. If that is really true, then each organization only attracted 10-20 participants at a maximum. That’s national staff plus a boyfriend or two. The alternative is that the march never had that kind of organizational support, not really, and that individual Americans’ desire to spread the news of the march on their own wasn’t sufficient to make a difference.
Headed home on Sunday, I passed a footrace sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps. Participants clogged the DC Metro to the gills, and the side of the road was clotted with supporters, bringing signs declaring how much they cared about those running the course. The contrast was glaring.
Usually, this kind of silence gears me up. Usually I’m motivated by others’ quiescence. This week, I’m struck dumb. In the face of others’ silence I can’t speak any more, and I can’t seem to find my way out.
How can I find my voice again?
How can the nation?