Saturday, April 01, 2017
Let Me Make One Thing Perfectly Clear
When I first dropped out in 1970, hit San Francisco for a hot minute, and then proceeded on to join a collective in Iowa City, Iowa, committed to the prison abolition movement, I could not possibly have imagined that 45 years later, I would want to re-publish something I wrote in 1972. Yet here I am, more than a little disappointed that the call for unity, solidarity, and action I issued in the Prisoners' Digest International four and a half decades ago would still be pertinent -- and even sorely needed.
This is why I am still doing what I am doing, teaching what I am teaching, and writing what I am writing. Still trying to make our situation perfectly clear.
"Let me make one thing perfectly clear..." -- President Richard M. Nixon, 1972
Yes, Mr. President, it is time. Finally, after all this waiting, after all this wondering, after all this working and thinking and trying to keep it together, it is time to make all things perfectly clear. Clear for all governors, clear for all governed. Clear for all workers. Clear for all lovers. Clear for all warriors. Clear for all the warred-against.
And while we're at it, let's make it all perfectly clear. Clear of all racism, sexism, classism, imperialism, elitism, egotism, and bullshit. Clear of all secret alliances and all secret horrors. Clear of private needs and public images. And clear of the nuclear bomb.
Let's make it clear that those who set themselves above the People in any way are not better than the People, or more deserving of pleasure, or less deserving of pain. Let's make it perfectly clear that those who set themselves above the People create necessarily a second class -- a sea of humans and a universe of energy so strong and so brilliant in their reality that they outshine any poor egotism.
Then let's clarify the fact that no group of the People is any more beautiful, more wise, or more worthy than any other group of the People. We have all taken our lumps and shaken our asses and, brothers and sisters, we have to start somewhere.
Let's take all the walls, real and illusionary, and make them clear as glass that the People can take a look around and see the truth of what has been happening. What is happening in this country behind the locked doors of bureaucratic convenience and individual lack of responsibility? We have been looking through a glass darkly, beloveds, and it is time to draw aside the veils. We have nothing to hide but our own sense of humanity, nothing to fear but our own slowness in seeing and speaking the truth.
Let us approach our human warehouses with their newly clear walls and see what we shall find. The tenements and ghettoes full of big eyed children and empty stomachs. The old people's "homes" full of minds more forgotten than forgetful. The orphanages, schools, and camps filled with bright new lives being crammed without apology into a single rotting mold. The "crazy houses" full of the bewitched and bewildered who never asked to become human guinea pigs for the medical and psychological sciences, but who nevertheless wake up day after eternal day to be nothing more than the brunt of an experimental joke.
And the prisons -- ah, the prisons, my friends -- pitched for two hundred years in the deepest darkness of our perverted conditionings. What will they yield up to the unsuspecting viewer through those fine clear walls? Go to Springfield, Terre Haute, or Butner. Or look through the walls at Marion. See the life. See the humanity caged against itself. See the bleeding faces with no more tears left to shed. See the broken bodies and struggling spirits. See the desperation, the loneliness, the fear, the courage, and the faith. See the People staring back at you through that clear glass wall.
It is indeed time to make one thing perfectly clear and that thing is that We Are! And we are the People! Yesterday, we said bring it together. Today, we say the truth is in the doing. We, the People, are as together as we make ourselves, as together as we dare to ask, as together as we demand to know. We, the People, have always been One and are One now. We have allowed many veils to be put over our eyes. We have believed that humanity must be protected from the People, when, in fact, the People must be protected from those who have taught us fear.
If we each seek the truth and do whatever we can to make that truth perfectly clear, the People will know all and life will be worth living forever.