Tue, Jun

Avoidance Matters


RESPONSIBILITY IS PERSONAL-“…I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo….” But if not you, then who? Because someone is. 

Someone has been weighing in to ranks swelling with violence, bursting with hatred. A large bunch of angry folks brandished fire and fury last Friday and unleashed the overt toppling of constitutional rights, collective self-esteem and statues. 

And that same attitude which disavows culpability for provoking violence also apparently assumes innocence toward any other collective action: marching, mobbing, voting. 

It’s not just Blacks Who Matter, it is also very much true that all of us matter, in all our actions: we do. 

When you shriek words of hate, it matters. When you wield weapons of war, it matters. When you vote or fail to do so, it matters. 

And denying so seems to be the degenerate end of that long, inexorable drain on economic power and citizenly prerogative that has increasingly marked America’s 99%. 

We have morphed into a citizenry that will not vote, will not participate in community organizations, repudiates culpability for the mob we comprise. 

Is it that we just do not think we matter anywhere, to any organizational entity? Do we assume our vote cannot matter because politicians are all corrupt and the political process is everywhere broken? Do we presume the provocations of a mob cannot matter because our actions just have no weight anywhere, ever? 

What is with this prevailing national cynicism that denies ourselves the spoils of membership and denies the possibility that anyone’s reality can be made or understood to matter? 

Is it the zeitgeist, are we all electronic ephemera, cultural chimera, too distracted or “busy” to be present?   

Are we incapable of holding in mind the complicated irony of mattering implicitly while simultaneously mattering not at all? 

When did personal responsibility secede from civic responsibility, when did we assume permission to deny the weight of our actions? 

This is how democracy does die: when we deny our own moment.


(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at redqueeninla.com). Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.


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