Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pepper Spray

For all of the celebration and joy that has taken place during the lead up to the release of Thief of Shadows - Manwe The Panther Vol. 1, it is often easy to forgot that this short story collection was born from something that isn't to be celebrated and something that is the anti-thesis of joy.

My name is Jay Requard, and I believe firmly in living for revolution. My reading of history and my political perspectives fall in line with one of the greatest Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, and in my heart of hearts I truly hold his opinion of revolution to be valid:

"Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree, and in our states in a great one. 3. Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has it’s evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppression of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.1 Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government." - Thomas Jefferson to James MadisonParis, January 30, 1787

We live in a time and place where we live under "a government of force", and the moment I realized this was during the Occupy movement. At the outset of the movement where much of my generation who make up a group called "Millennials" marched on New York City, right down the middle of Wall Street, to protest what they saw as government corruption and the rising of an immoral oligarchy that devastated the overall economy while those same oligarchs made out with HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS (if not trillions.) While I completely agreed with Occupy's view of what had happened, I disagreed with their methods of organization and disliked their inability to actually effect elections on a local and state level. They were co-opted, 

And then this happened:

Society often has to make decisions--sometimes unconscious ones--on how it reacts to popular uprisings that threaten to destabilize the status quo, and at a moment where those protesters were justified, the police that were sworn to protect the constitutional rights of protesters in general became the foot soldiers of a small class of unimaginably powerful people who have the ability to determine the fates of billions around the world. In submitting to them, we have allowed the poor to suffer, minorities to be disenfranchised and slain, and the less-able among us, including the elderly, to endure indignity after indignity.

Those women could have been my fiance, or my sisters, or my mother. They could have been your loved ones. They could have been the protesters in the #BlackLivesMatter movement who were beaten by the cops in Ferguson or murdered in New York, or the protesters in India who are fighting right now against a caste system where young Dalits feel that suicide is a better option than living in subjugation. They could have been the Iranians clamoring for freedom in 2009 when the US failed to support them when the call for democracy and support was given.

Manwe The Panther is more than one who thieves, an act of criminality that is often caused by poverty for those hung at the bottom of the social-economic ladder. He is more than a black man. He is more than a gay man. He is more than a poor man. The Gypians who have invaded his homeland have declared his race, his manner of preserving his life, and his political and personal outlook as taboo to society.

They have told him that to love who he loves is wrong.

He, like so many of us, is among the disenfranchised.

And he's not me. I think this is an incredibly important fact to point out: while I am and have been poor, there is no denying my privilege. 

Yet let us also be clear: I am not apologizing for my privilege--far from it. 

I believe my privilege requires me to be duty-bound in a pursuit for the betterment of others, where in the end my privilege is negated when all will be free in our society as we are in the eyes of God. Whether it is Noam Chomsky who said "the more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have", or John The Baptist telling his followers in Luke 3:11 that "anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."

We live in a world that has forsaken John's idea, a world where people are judged harshly for who they are, for whom they love, and for how much they don't have. We suffer a system where the impoverishment of people is tolerated if it creates capital that has no inherent value beyond the belief we pin to it and yet it can bring down empires. We invade other counties for their resources under the pretense that democracy is a simple process that all peoples have an ability to adopt when we all know that it is a difficult system that must be organic for the sake of those who use it, further tarnishing a beautiful gift of humanity that has been abused and distorted for the sake of a ruling class.

It's time to stand against this. I'm choosing to write about it, but I implore everyone reading this blog, everyone who decides to go and pick up this book (or not), to take the time and really look around. This world around us can be better for everyone, not the few who want more power than everyone else.

I believe in revolution, and all revolutions start in the darkest times. We only need to decide what kind of world we want when we turn the lights back on.

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