Friday, April 20, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #53 - Part 5

Who am I and why am I doing this?

I said at the top of this week's show that it's number 53. So we've completed 52 shows in 52 weeks and now are doing number 53. So that makes this the first anniversary show of Left Side of the Aisle. So Happy Anniversary to me!

To note the event, I'm going to reprise some of what I said about myself on the first show, which I did avowedly so viewers could put what I said in some sort of context. So here it is:

I am, in many ways, a child of "the 60s," having come to political awareness during that brief (and, some would have it, mythical) time marked at one end by the Sgt. Pepper summer and at the other by Altamont - or, if you prefer to measure it politically, by Flower Power and the Days of Rage. Like most (at least male) members of my generation, it was Vietnam that initially drew me beyond vague "concern" into concrete involvement: Even for those of us "safe" with draft deferments - and if you don't know what I mean by that, good and I hope you never do - but even for those of us "safe," the war was always there, swirling around us like a fog, tugging at us like an undertow, threading in and out of our consciousness, ignored only by being repressed. And each "answer" our government offered to the whens, wherefores, and, most importantly, whys of the war seemed to raise at least two new questions.

I had been to that time what I now call a "right wing liberal," what people sometimes now call a "liberal warhawk," that species of American political animal that's clearly liberal on domestic issues and clearly conservative on foreign policy, a type whose philosophy I later summed up as "hooray for justice, beauty, truth, and Kill Commies." But increasing alienation as the war dragged on amid repeated promises that it was, really, already over and mounting evidence of what the governments we supported in South Vietnam were really like eventually prompted me to - very shyly - attend a meeting of a local peace group. (I still recall being greeted with "Welcome" by a tall man with a beard and a not-inconsiderable resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. In fact, he later added a mustache because he was tired of the Lincoln jokes.) That was, if memory serves, in the fall of 1968.

You can relax; it's over now. I've no intention of inflicting my autobiography on you. But knowing the roots of my involvement in the movement may help to explain where I've wound up: As I say here in the right-hand column,
I'm an aging hippie, an educator, and a political activist, the terms' order of presentation depending on circumstances and my mood of the moment. I'm also a democratic socialist/green with an anarchist bent and a civil liberties absolutist who has, by both logical conclusion and moral compulsion, a commitment to active nonviolence. The only isms I wholeheartedly endorse are skepticism and eclecticism.
In a different context I have called myself a socialist-anarchist-communalist-capitalist-eclecticist-iconoclast.

I'm guided by four, if you will, "editorial" principles:

1) "To thine own self be true." (Shakespeare)
2) "The US isn't the worst - but it is the biggest." (Joan Baez)
3) "Sometimes a bit of humor contains more inner truth than the most serious seriousness." (chess grandmaster Aron Nimzovich)
4) "No one but no one, no matter their ideology, political perspective, or status as 'left' or 'right,' 'revolutionary' or 'counter-revolutionary' can be by that reason exempt from either criticism or praise." (me)

I've always believed that in any political movement, everyone has some skill they can use, some skill they can contribute. Mine happens to be words.

So this, ultimately, is just another way I think I can be of use, another way to help advance the cause of justice, another if you will candle in the rain.


JayV said...

Hi Larry, congratulations on #53. :-) You made it this far, so the rest is a piece of (vlog birthday) cake. :-) - Jay

Lotus said...

Thanks, Jay!

I was interviewed by a reporter for a local paper the other day as part of a promotional effort for the local access TV. She asked me how long I intended to keep doing the show and I answered that I hadn't thought of it in terms of "I'll do it this long and then stop."

It occurred to me (later, unfortunately) to say that "I intend to do it as long as heart, health, and hope hold out." We'll see which one gives out first - though I often fear it will be the last.

Carry it on, bro'.

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