Perspective of Picture:
Perspective of Poetry
“Democratic Womanism” by Alice Walker, from http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/28/democratic_womanism_poet_and_activist_alice
You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.
There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile.
Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
comes to mind, with his fearful
400 year old prophecy: that our world
and theirs too
(our “enemies” – lots of kids included there)
will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
and the billions of dollars wasted on them
A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not.
I want something else;
a different system
One not seen
on this earth
for thousands of years. If ever.
Notice how this word has “man” right in the middle of it?
That’s one reason I like it. He is right there, front and center. But he is surrounded.
I want to vote and work for a way of life
that honors the feminine;
a way that acknowledges
the theft of the wisdom
female and dark Mother leadership
might have provided our spaceship
I am not thinking
of a talking head
kind of gal:
happy to be mixing
with the baddest
on the planet
her eyes a slit
her mouth a zipper.
No, I am speaking of true
Where women rise
to take their place
at the helm
of earth’s frail and failing ship;
where each thousand years
of our silence
and the cruel manner in which our values
of compassion and kindness
have been ridiculed
brought to bear on the disaster
of the present time.
The past must be examined closely, I believe, before we can leave
I am thinking of Democratic, and, perhaps
For who else knows so deeply
how to share but Mothers
and Grandmothers? Big sisters
both female and male?
Not to mention those in between.
To work at keeping
the entire community
would have as its icons
such fierce warriors
for good as
Aung San Suu Kyi,
& Barbara Lee:
With new ones always rising, wherever you look.
You are also on this list, but it is so long (Isis would appear midway) that I must stop or be unable to finish the poem! So just know I’ve stood you in a circle that includes Marian Wright Edelman, Amy Goodman, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem and Mary McLeod Bethune. John Brown, Frederick Douglass, John Lennon and Howard Zinn are there. Happy to be surrounded!
There is no system
There is no system
now in place
that can change
the disastrous course
the Earth is on.
Who can doubt this?
The male leaders
appear to have abandoned
their very senses
though most appear
to live now
in their heads.
They murder humans and other
forests and rivers and mountains
they are in office
and never seem
to notice it.
They eat and drink devastation.
Women of the world,
Women of the world,
Is this devastation Us?
Would we kill whole continents for oil
(or anything else)
rather than limit
the number of consumer offspring we produce
and learn how to make our own fire?
Democratic Socialist Womanism.
A system of governance
we can dream and imagine and build together. One that recognizes
at least six thousand years
of brutally enforced complicity
in the assassination
of Mother Earth, but foresees six thousand years
ahead of us when we will not submit.
What will we need? A hundred years
at least to plan: (five hundred will be handed us
when the planet is scared enough)
in which circles of women meet,
organize ourselves, and,
allied with men
brave enough to stand with women,
men brave enough to stand with women,
nurture our planet to a degree of health.
And without apology —-
(impossible to make
a bigger mess than has been made already) -—
devote ourselves, heedless of opposition,
to tirelessly serving and resuscitating Our Mother ship
and with gratitude
for Her care of us
Alice Walker wrote Democratic Womanism about the 2012 election. But considering its large-scale, long-term scope on the Six Thousand Year (and maybe longer) Struggle against the patriarchal basis of civilization, that’s really just a blink in time. Trump, Clinton and Bernie don’t change things much, for a lot of reasons — not in the least that change has to come from us, the people. We have to manifest it in the way we think, act and relate to the rest of the world. Electing figureheads into an inherently corrupt system won’t do much, one way or the other. The advent of civilization saw a sudden and drastic move far to the right, to the patriarchal roots of corporatocratic society. We have been moving little bits and pieces left back toward real democracy since then, slow and steady.
Democracy: rule of the people by the people for the people with the people. “People” includes but not limited to all humans. Without an inclusive definition of “people” it’s not democracy. Democracy requires an intact social fabric. If we don’t have the capacity to listen, empathize, understand, talk to, love and support one another, to the entirety of the world around us, then we can’t have democracy. If we have horizontal violence, we can’t have democracy. As long as property exists, we will have horizontal violence. As long as we have objectification, we will have property (and horizontal violence). If we can’t relate to one-another of mutual trust, love, respect and solidarity, then we can’t have democracy. Democracy requires of humans an animistic, process-based worldview.
Regardless of how they voted, how many people voted out of fear, anger or hatred as their driving motivation? How many people vote(d) out of love, solidarity and courage as their driving motivation? That matters more to me than any electoral result. Likewise, what we do and how we act before or after the election matters more to me than how we vote. So, let’s get to the root of it, and get back to the work that needs to happen regardless of who gets elected — the long Thousand Years’ Struggle for Liberation.