I have recently discovered an amazing performance poet, Lauren Zuniga. Her video, which I have embedded here, is powerful and amazing, and expresses in just a few minutes what many have attempted to convey for a number of years. Take a few minutes to watch it, then continue with my comments below.
I also spent some time reading through some of the comments posted on YouTube, which, as one might expect, reflect the extremes that dominate our public discourse. And, like much of the extreme reactions to this issue, completely miss the mark in terms of the complexity that is reflected in Lauren’s work. First of all, most of the comments focus on the “rape” part of the poem, and like the well-intended lawmakers who have attempted to provide some measure of autonomy for women, assume that only in the case of rape should women be “allowed” to select abortion. But this poem, to me, is not simply about abortion, rape, or even the very important issue of women’s freedom to control our own bodies, our own destinies. It is also about the madness of a society that cannot quite seem to recognize blatant inconsistencies and contradictions from one moment to another – a social order that claims to value “life” for a barely fertilized zygote, and then shamelessly pass laws that allow, even encourage, more killing, that imprison large numbers of people, particularly women and children in lives of abject poverty. This, to me, is the powerful message embedded in this poem – a poem that focuses on probably the most blatant example of this insanity that prevails in our politics today.
But there is a hopeful note rising to the surface, thanks in large part to the totally absurd political circus going on in the United States, and to the fact that there are so many media outlets that bring the circus into more and more spaces, both public and private. When politicians engage in blatant contradictions that are contrived to simply serve the purpose of the moment, we have video and audio recordings that document the insanity of their words, and, most important, outlets that show their contradictions side by side. It is not necessary to label, to try to explain, or to spin what is right in front of us. It is there, plain as day, for all to see. We can see for ourselves what our all-too-limited memories obliterate from consciousness. The fact that so many people do have access to see this evidence is because of the rising stars in the pundit world, and this quiet, calm and totally peaceful “uprising” is growing. It is an uprising that opens a window of awareness, revealing in plain sight the absurdity that prevails in the snippets of today’s news that otherwise would ignore the absurdity of what was highlighted in yesterday’s news.
I am not naive enough to believe that because of this growing “alternative’ media, all is going to be well … to the contrary I am fearful for the future, which could well be dominated by even more insanity than that happening in our 2012 era. But I do believe there is cause to be cautiously optimistic, and that there is reason to join the uprising in any way we can – which, for me, includes posting this blog! So stay tuned .. I plan to bring another of Lauren’s performances to this blog soon … one that addresses folks like me, who are tempted to run and hide instead of facing the situation and being part of the solution!