Monday, June 27, 2011

A Point in Time

Friday evening Maggie and I went to hear Melissa Harris-Perry, columnist for The Nation and commentator on MSNBC speak in Aberdeen, Washington which is about 60 miles west of Olympia. Aberdeen is a hard up former logging and industrial town so hearing a progressive speaker of Harris-Perry's caliber in such a setting is surprising to say the least.

Dinner in Aberdeen was an experience of making do with what you find. We had planned to grab a pizza at one of the locations shown on MapQuest of our route into Aberdeen. The only one still extant turned out to be a Quik Mart with a pizza oven. But the oven was real and the place smelled like a pizzeria so we got a take out and ate on the tailgate of the truck in the parking lot at Aberdeen High School, the evening's venue. The pizza was fine even if its provenance was unlikely.

Harris-Perry spoke to about 100 people in the high school auditorium. She noted some very real and positive achievements of the Obama administration along with its notable failures and omissions. But the words that resonated with me were "the struggle continues", which she said was how her father signed her birthday cards as she was growing up. She reminded me that it is unrealistic to expect to live in some perfect world where all problems are resolved. And as frustrating as it is to have to keep fighting for justice, Harris-Perry noted that the struggle is a never-ending one, that my efforts--however ineffective they may seem at the moment--are part of that never ending struggle.

I left with a much renewed sense of purpose. Harris-Perry helped me realize that that I am part of a chain that links back the earliest efforts against tyranny and slavery. I may not live to see the justice I wish for but I know that I have lived to make it happen.

Not bad for an evening in a hardscrabble town.



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