Month: July 2019

Smells Like Citizen Spirit

It means: “true democracy, let’s vote ourselves.” That is, the graffiti. Interesting choice of words, at least I thought so. They stuck out to me, looked particularly brazen. I wonder who wrote it, some somebody willing to stand out in a public space and deface a wall with their latest brain-picking. Despite curiosity, you never figure out who the person is. You get close, and out of a dozen or so lookalikes, there’s bound to be a trackable progress going in enough circles to convince you you’re getting somewhere good.

As most of you have guessed, it’s French. The “L’s” give it away at a first glance, but that it’s so attention-grabbing and straightforward also points to a French origin. It embodies everything I admire in the French people: a stubborn determination to be heard while retaining their cultural elegance. Nobody fights like them, nobody, because nobody’s got near as fierce a spirit. Spirit flows through all of those words splashed across the wall, and it’s important to remember spirit doesn’t emerge of nothing.

A member of the Yellow Vests (gilet jaunes) Movement sprayed the graffiti. You may not have guessed this, but I imagine the majority of readers had a gut feeling. I’ve been meaning to cover these guys for a while, if only because few people are. Last November, they burst into international attention, and the gamut of media churned out story after story on their shocking antics. Public defacements and mass protesting defined them; of course, the coverage was accurate, in parts. I read most of those stories, understanding the plight of the French workers and wishing for their success. Not two or three months later, all American coverage stopped, leaving me to scramble after foreign outlets for any new updates. BBC had its bits and pieces, but the French outlets either neglected to report the events or showcased them through biased perspectives. Unfortunate, yes, but it was not an unexpected action; it happens everywhere, so we have to sometimes seek out objectivity ourselves.

The movement has lasted for over seven months, and it still appears to be going strong. I can’t speak as to the inner climate. I have no idea what the people are experiencing from day to day–and this is perhaps my most important point, I hope the best for all sides. Too often, we lose ourselves to the inevitable tug-of-war ever festering in these kinds of movements. We focus on the aspect of success so much that we forget our own limits in reaching it. It goes either way, the end, settling in comfortable victory or exhausted failure, with no room for a middle ground.

To me, the graffiti represents an attempted middle ground. People will argue and battle; they’ll break ideological codes to ensure they are on the prevailing side before the whole situation resolves itself in forced silence. Not everyone’ll spray out graffiti, but everyone’ll read the message.

One message means more than a million broken noses.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

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The Beautiful And The Ugly

On any given day, I’d like to say it’s easy to tell who the good and bad guys are. Creating a dividing line is a satisfying feeling, solidifying the creators’ preconceptions and ridding undue stress from wearied minds. Classification of all kinds calms people down, since nobody (NOBODY) enjoys the unclear and unknown. They may get curious–at the most, terror will set in and evolve into hysteria–but you see, so long as there are names for the beautiful and the ugly, there’ll be moderate peace. Whether it stands or falls is another situation entirely, and it is one unanswerable by that eons-long plight. News flash: it’s lasted eons for a reason, so it won’t absolve itself of conflict within the next forty-eight hours. That is, at best, wishful thinking, and at worst, an acknowledgement of something greater than ourselves: time’s withstanding grudge against human intervention.

Good and Evil. We love them. They taste so nice on our tongues, four sy-l-l-ables capturing the respective epitomes of their concepts; oh yes that is GOOD and those are undeniably EVIL just look at the symbols and words and intentions my my how outrageous! We might as well be loading people and objects into duct-tape labeled, grape juice stained Kindergarten cubbies without a single regard for examination. Words supplanted by bigger words supplanted by bigger words. Then we wonder–we wonder, ‘oh, gee, why are they overflowing? are-are, they are–they’re switching places! how dare they!’

Make larger cubbies, say the pinstriped suit-wearing dude lurking outside the window, who, as a matter of fact, has never entered the classroom.

Cubbies are ordered, sir, say some rag-tag maintenance group no one recognizes–and hell, folks, these guys don’t even recognize Mr. Pinstriped Suit, but that doesn’t stop others from carrying out orders.

Cubbies come in, glorious tidings and champagne bottles for the people old enough to drink. There’s new labels, too, because after several millennium, the letters somehow lost their shine. They gleam in sunlight and blanket themselves at night. Reading them accrues no worth anyhow.

Cubbies are in, sir, and it’s a recorder looping an affirmation. Somebody shoved a box of chocolates beneath it.

Mr. Pinstriped Suit is gone. Some blue birdies are eating spilt seed on the windowsill. They make an incredible noise.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

ID 21632081 © Brad Calkins | Dreamstime.com

A Letter To Washington

On March 28th, 2019, Will Boswell, a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, wrote a letter to the late American president, George Washington. His letter aimed to detail current changes in American society, as well as to compare these changes and their effects to Washington’s original vision for America. 

Dear President Washington, 

My name is Will Boswell, and I hope this letter reaches you well.

I’m an American citizen, and that should mean quite a lot to you. Let me add that it is 2019, and I am an American citizen. Despite previous attempts by the British to regain their colonies, we have prevailed, and oh, we’re friends with them now. We’re friends with most of the world, and as a matter of fact, we assist them with their many problems. Some have called us the ‘World Police,’ and the label’s not far off from the truth. That may surprise you, so I’ll throw in another surprise: the United States of America is a world ‘superpower,’ much like the British Empire.

You’re brimming with questions, I understand, but I think you should know I’m only nineteen. I know a bit about some things, but on others, I know too little. America isn’t as open to public knowledge as it used to be; we’ve become more secretive in our practices. In a way, it’s both necessary and frightening. What many see as governmental overreach is interpreted by others as necessary to preserving our liberties. Put simply, this is no small country, as you originally created it; in fact, as expressed before, it is a large superpower, this status coming with numerous foundational changes.

One of the largest changes, to you, may be that in 2008, we elected our first black president, Barack Obama, signaling an incredible alteration of the American perception toward minority citizens. Diversity has come a long way in our country—and what comes to mind are such watershed moments as the 1917 Women’s Suffrage Movement and the abolition of slavery in 1865. Our fourteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, abolished it by way of the Constitution, and this, among other reasons, caused his assassination. It was an unfortunate end to a true American patriot, a man I’m sure you would have greatly respected.

There’s too much to explain in so short a time, so I’ll get to my main points. Mr. President, America has changed. You can interpret that however you want to, and I hope you’ll understand my saying on some days that I feel as if no one listened to you. Due to your slave-holding past, many  American citizens elect to listen to neither you nor your compatriots. You are all a part of a racist past, and while I acknowledge it as wrong, I also believe it’s important to separate the different qualities of a person before judging them according to the values of the time. I mean no disrespect to you, sir, grateful for what you did for this country, but our country’s values, along with our perception of historical figures, have changed—and they have changed for the better.

Aside from this small unification, our country is more divided than ever before. Politics has grown even more distasteful, neither side particularly appealing to the American public. Domestic terrorists have brought the battlefield to our schools and churches, concerts and clubs, gunning down innocent civilians for reasons we can hardly comprehend. As I write this, another shooting has occurred in which four people have been shot, one of them dead, at a synagogue of all places. The American public itself fights over the pettiest issues and at times, it’s as though we can’t compromise on any one thing.

This must hurt you to hear these things, but as you well know, no nation is without its battles. Of these problems, some may become trivial in the future, and some may linger on, challenging new generations to rediscover the national principles forgotten by previous ones. I feel that’s the story of America: a nation where values are constantly taken up and put down, new ones intervening on behalf of the ever-insistent vox populi striving after the solutions and meanings that, though not always the best, are the right ones for the time. It is that America you fought for, and it is that America we will continue to fight for, so long as we have a reason to.

 The United States has come a long way in over two hundred years. I live in the twenty-first century, and I am a college student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. I’ve witnessed hundreds of changes in my short lifetime, looking to create a few myself, and more are taking place minute by minute. I am astounded at the amount of ways society shifts, and people surprise. 

With our Founding Fathers, a nation awoke, and without them, a nation perseveres. It is not for me to say where our focus will shift next, but I can hope it is in a good direction. We can survive anything that is thrown at us, rest assured of that.

May you rest in peace.

Think daily,

A Southpaw

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