I’m a sucker for holiday movies, not just the good ones like Elf and the Santa Claus where Tim Allen’s newly grown beard freaks him out every morning, but the hokey ones on Hallmark and Lifetime. Maybe it’s because I still believe in Santa and hang out my grown children’s stockings plus my own (somebody better get me a grand child soon!)
I get tears in my eyes and a warm feeling in my gut (or is that the wine) because I’m a goof and a cock-eyed optimist. No matter how dark things get, I still believe that we have the personal power individually and even more so collectively to bring about change.
We have grown so tired of outrage that we’ve distilled it down to a stale cynicism and let ourselves get caught up in crazy conspiracies. But there’s no need for those when your president is a two bit crime boss, wannabe mafia don and an actual criminal (but let’s not forget that all our presidents have been war criminals.) Our own mayor engages in cynical attempts to get her vanity projects past a somewhat reluctant voting public, seemingly supports whatever the police wanna do, and attempts to insure her administration won’t be challenged.
But, remember the first act of resistance when Americans all over the country showed up at airports to help the newly banned who only wanted to come home or visit their relatives. Now many folks are organizing to help the desperate families at the border and groups all over Oakland are organizing to demand housing for the houseless, helping with toiletries, meals and warm coats.
Many of us are learning more about the intricacies of government-in self defense-than we thought possible. And in Oakland too, that is necessary. Not all of our city’s problems can easily be solved locally. We can demand public land for affordable housing but we also have to force our state and federal governments to provide the funds that that will require.
Our schools are in sad shape but not all of that can be dumped on the school board. It’s an old problem but not intractable. For instance, why do we still have school segregation? Why have we never had busing? Where does all the money go and why are teachers usually the first ones blamed? And how can we help?
We have elected a refreshed city council. For those of you who don’t remember or weren’t here, our city council wasn’t always so conservative and slow to respond to sweeping changes and dire emergencies. Our new council will surely address homelessness and begin to work out our emergency preparedness solutions which so far have seemed not to exist.
But they’ll need our help, our research skills, our entrepreneurial solutions, our creativity and a little patience, but just a little. Bring that holiday spirit and hope for better times. You too can believe in Santa Claus so long as you are willing to come to the workshop with your pointy ears on, ready to roll up your sleeves and gleefully join in building a better year for us all.
Old acquaintance should be renewed, not forgot. See you out there in the bright new year! Lots of work to be done and we’re the ones to do it.