Saturday, January 02, 2010

Battle apathy with images of joy

In one of his television episodes, Michael Moore confronts the KKK. He wins. How?

No, he doesn't imitate some of the Klan-bashing mobs who scream and threaten.

No, he doesn't copy the dignified actions of the Civil Rights movement with sincere sit-ins or slow, calming songs.

No, you don't see him going to the house of the Grand Dragon, standing plaintively outside, ala Roger and Me and so many of his other films, vainly attempting to interview the top dog. He doesn't even self-emulate.

Instead, he brings his Love Squad, a racially mixed team of cheerleaders. They are dressed for it--cheerleading outfits, pon-poms, and they are all cute and smiling as they can-can kick, arms around each other, cheerily chanting:
"One, two, three, four!
We just want to love you more!
Five, six, seven, eight!
Even though you're filled with hate!"

Who could not love these young, chipper, smiling women, so clearly full of good will toward all? There they are, on national television, and the Ku Klux Klan members scowl impotently, losing sympathizers by the thousands as they project churlish, childish rage at the sweet Love Squad.

Adversarial conflict is a zero-sum game at best, and often a lose-lose race to the bottom. Nonviolence, especially when presented with joy and creativity, can spark sympathy and opens a portal to victory over a bad idea or unjust practice, even as it offers validation for the humanity of the instigator of injustice. This is not compromise; it is powerful moral and political jiu-jitsu. It destroys apathy by inviting the observer to join in the right, to belong with the good, to protect the sweet, and to be part of the fun.

It also overcomes the apathy of burnout from the effects of rage-against-the-machine, from the self-immolation of perpetual anger at perpetrators of hate and violence and injustice. We who practice the Joy of Resistance are in it for the long haul. Not the vapid joy of the ecstatic loopy but the real deep love of life that can roll right over the fires of hate and flow right into the caves of apathy, shining a love light on a struggle that is already based in love and inviting everyone along.

No comments: