Wednesday, March 12, 2008

End Immediacy Immediately!

A theme that has been rolling around in my mind for the past few weeks is immediacy. I see this in my everyday life: drinking coffee to quickly wake up (and be tolerable), driving home instead of walking/riding a bike/using public transportation, e-mail/internet, throwing away recyclables at the kitchen. Waking up naturally, walking home, sending my letters via USPS, and making trips to the recycling center would all take time for which I seemingly do not have. The catch is that I do, in fact, have that time; so the question becomes: Do I have the motivation?

But the types of immediacy I have been contemplating are on a grander scale. In terms of capitalism, consumerism, materialism, war, and political "reform," long-term planning is not a priority (unless it has to do with money). For example, instant gratification is found at WAL*MART and McDonalds, because what we want is in front of us for a low price. Even though we know that WAL*MART has horrible employment practices and sells goods made by our exploited brothers and sisters overseas, Americans continue to buy. Even though we know McDonald's victimizes the environment and our health, Americans continue to buy.

And we continue to support immediacy in our politics and foreign affairs. The war in Iraq will bring in its fifth year on March 20 (I might forget that if the war hadn't started on my 18th birthday). Is our idea of peace in the context of immediacy? Is peace, to US citizens and our leaders, simply the absence of violence, obtained by killing/bombing/paralyzing the enemy to prevent retaliation? It seems this is our idea of peace, reached with speed. Why else would we sit by and allow the incessant bombing of innocents half a world away?

Dearest to my heart at this moment in my life, however, is the immediacy in which the homeless are mistreated. Lofts, high rises, apartments, condos, and general gentrification is rampant, to say the least, in Skid Row (known to builders/lofters/city council as "central city east"). Our brothers and sisters on the streets are pushed out, away from services, to make room for those who can afford, at the end of 2007, a "median price of $410,000". Arrests, police harassment, and encouragement from Cardinal Mahoney to stop sidewalk giveaways are mutating Skid Row into an even more unwelcoming and inhabitable area. All for economic growth. All for immediate profit.

Meanwhile, I am participating in a movement that recognizes the inability to achieve immediate results. The peace movement is a lifelong struggle that bears little fruit only if we hold the same standards of the businesses and politicians. We peaceniks receive little physical reward of years of hard work; we do not gain tremendous financial profit; we are not internationally renowned; we have no alliances with powerful organizations and groups such as the armed forces, city planners, and CEO's. Instead, we trudge on through the quagmire of violence and try to resurrect hope. It is a thankless job.

But even in these past months, I have discovered my own nonviolent self. I am nowhere near completely accepting nonviolence as my whole self as my language and attitude still exhibit violence and negativity. Yet, I know that I am capable of being peaceful; and even more, I know that each person is capable of being good. We all have to be willing to leave behind the temptation of immediacy. We must accept the bondage of patience, trust in mercy, and dedicate ourselves to others. The question is not if we can do this, rather when. When will we be motivated to save our world?