Friday, September 5, 2008

Poo Poos of Patriotism

Have you ever tried to use the "next blog" link at the top of a Blogger page? I maintain two blogs. This one, dedicated to Schadenfreude and my various writing projects, and Valery Lantratov's Ballet Blog. (Sing along: One of these things is not like the others...) I clicked on the "next blog" link thinking it would take me to my other blog, but it took me instead to a post on "Kate's First Hard Poo-Poo".

Speaking of poo-poo... (I'm a professional writer, don't try these transitions at home.) I have been slowly building up a library of books from the "What They Said In" reference series by editors Alan and Jason Prater. From 1969-1996 they published annual editions compiling spoken quotes by politicians and people of note in the news. They're great records of the issues of the day. As I go through them I become alternately comforted and discouraged to see that we've been having essentially the same cultural and political conversations for years. What is a patriot? Is it patriotic or unpatriotic to question a war? Should we embrace change or preserve our sense of community and continuity? These were some of the big questions of 1970.

One of the quotes from the 1970 edition-- and I am getting back to poo-poo-- seemed to have special resonance in light of the current discussion of community organizing we've been seeing on the news. It comes from Saul Alinsky, a pioneer of community organizing, who said, "Civil rights is a movement, and a movement without organization is nothing more than a bowel movement."

Power to the people, right on!