Passing the Ball

I want to talk a little more about being a “servist” or activist especially in the area of organizations. I am always amazed at how sometimes  organizations established to do good for people can get a little territorial and fail to see how some other organization may be of great benefit to what they’re trying to accomplish. If you’ll note I have listed the Warren and Youngstown FreeCycle sites as links on my blog. I think they are worthy organizations that keep goods from ending up in landfills that could be of value to someonelse. I have used these sites to pass some things my children no longer needed to other families that could use them.

Another link I have on my blog is the Mahoning Watershed TimeBank. I belong to it because I think the services it’s members offer (at no charge other than a timebank credit for the service provider) could be very valuable especially in these trying economic times. I mentioned the above organizations to show an example of organizations failing to see what they have in common.

I tried to convince the Warren and Youngstown FreeCycle group that they should send their members info on the Mahoning Watershed TimeBank.  My reasoning was that the FreeCycles offer goods for free and the TimeBank offers services for free. “Goods and services” it seems logical to me that they have a lot in common. While the Mahoning Watershed TimeBank was smart enough to see the connection and added the FreeCycles to it’s links the FreeCycle groups managers said it was against their rules.

I have noted in the e-mails I get about current goods offered or requested the FreeCycles are scolding people for offering things or requests that don’t meet their rules.  These FreeCycles seem to have way too many rules for an anarchist type like the Elecpencil.  I was sorry that both FreeCycles were to rigid to see how them and the TimeBank might have made for a good combination. That said I still think the FreeCycles and the TimeBank are worthy organizations you should belong to so check them out.

I wanted to write something to encourage young folks to consider being servists. I realized I had written something similar several years back when I belonged to the late Youngstown Workers Solidarity Club and contributed articles to their publication, “Impact” the Rank and File Labor Newsletter. The Elecpencil being a disciple of the lazy man’s guide to Nirvana dusted off the following instead of writing something new.

Passing the Ball

One day a month I can always count on to enjoy is the monthly meeting of the Impact editorial board. It’s a day when I can get together with like-minded people and not feel lonely in the way I feel about the world. Some meetings have visitors who join us with their input, which is always welcome. Last month’s meeting was especially nice, because a nineteen-year-old girl joined us named Hannah. Hannah and a young man named Domininc who has been coming to our meetings inject the ideas and energy of youth that is needed at our meetings. More importantly than that, their values give me hope for my children’s future.

Hannah and Dominic had joined others at the May 4th memorial at Kent State. Hannah poetically described the demonstration saying, “I was impressed to meet more young like-minded students whom I would describe as “unstoppable balls of passion.”

As we read letters submitted to Impact, it made me realize how much these young people are needed in our movement. We read aloud a tearful letter from a man just executed. That was followed by a letter from a Palestinian woman who says she’s been lucky because the Israeli’s have only killed six members in her family, more tears flow. There always seems to be more tears in the world than laughter. I was thinking about that as I said goodbye to Hannah and Dominic.

I noticed that Hannah had a few gray hairs among her otherwise brown hair. Realizing that I too started getting gray at nineteen, I felt some responsibility towards her. I wanted to whisper in her ear, “Run, Hannah, run; and grab Dominic on your way. Go to insipid Jimmy Buffet concerts, and get drunk, and act ignorant. Go to Daytona Beach for spring break and drink flaming rum shots. Go to Mardi Gras and show your breasts for 10-cent beads. Choose playgrounds, not picket line battlegrounds. Demean yourself in decadence and debauchery, but don’t try to change the world. Hannah, the truth is to have world consciousness in this globalized economy is a life long struggle. To be an instigator of social justice can be damn depressing, because the odds are against you.”

When I got home after that month’s Impact meeting, I felt some guilt for not having warned Hannah. Believing in reincarnation, I wondered if I had come back as an activist as penance, or was it nirvana? Because I let the things out that get to my heart, I’m afraid I bore people who have to deal with me, but if I chose indifference that would be more penance than I could endure. On the other hand, I’ve reached nirvana because I’ve seen living miracles.

So Hannah, Dominic, and all young activists, I leave you to your choice of indifference or your struggle for nirvana. If you choose nirvana, I thank you for being there to pass the “ball of unstoppable passion” to my children.

Activism is a Heartbreak Hotel

Fear is a Man’s Best Friend

"The future will be different if we make the present different."~Peter Maurin 


1 Comment

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One response to “Passing the Ball

  1. Hey Jim,

    Would you consider establishing a TimeBank editorial board? I do think that you would meet some neat people and enjoy it. It’s a no stress thing, of course. All work is paid in Time Dollars, TD$. The TimeBank could really use help in getting out our message, newsletters, meeting reports, op-ed pieces, etc.

    I can’t wait to set up a TimeBank account for the Editorial Board! What say you?


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