Cheap Attempts at Warping History

by Nic Olson

I mean, he was a nice man. Well-mannered. He shook my hand. He was… punctual.

But he didn’t smile. Once. Even when I broke out my witticisms and self-depracation. Just cold, straight eyes of someone who was deeply offended but didn’t want to give his offender the satisfaction of knowing it. A man trained in the language of confusion and conditioned in the attitude of smugness couldn’t let an uneducated, idealistic brat have that victory. He is obligated to believe he is right, just as I often think I’m right. The difference is that he is in a position where he has no choice but to convey certainty, so much so that he begins to believe it himself, blinded by a pride that does not allow him to admit mistakes, to admit there is potentially a better, more effective way of doing things. I will gladly admit my faults, my ignorance, my wrongs in the overwhelmingly frequency in which they arise. He seemed light in his chair, not willing to let his muscles relax either because of something long, hard, and conservative lodged up there, or because of an impatience and unwillingness to stick around. Waste of his time.

Democracy is a faultless system when you are an affluent white male sitting in the golden velvety chair in the middle of the room.

That night Buffy Sainte-Marie put things into perspective during a talk at the FSIN. This too shall pass, she guided. She consolled that these people are just politicians, they do what they do. They do what they do from being bullied from who is on top of them. We must express ourselves regardless. Like a canoe that is tipping, we must balance their acts of selfishness and greed with acts of selflessness and sharing. Their acts of exclusion and individualism with acts of inclusion and community. Their arrogance with modesty, humility.

I did something wrong. Legally and perhaps morally, depending on who you ask. I can admit this, I can apologize for this. My actions did nothing. They did not prompt intelligent thought as I wished they would. They prompted two days of social networking guffaws and condemnations. But for myself, it was a step. It was a step that led me to several meetings I would have not had otherwise. A step towards peaceful dissent. A stone stepped over in the path.

The direction of a big act will warp history, but probably all acts do the same in their degree, down to a stone stepped over in the path or a breath caught at sight of a pretty girl or a fingernail nicked in the garden soil.

-Steinbeck, East of Eden, Chapter 4.1, p33