The American dream

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She saw the crowd from the seat of her car as she rode past.

“Who are these people?” she asked. Her aid replied, “They’re-”

“Stop the car,” she interrupted, “They are my people. I can feel it.”

She stepped out. This is some kind of Occupy movement.  She found a crate to stand on and addressed a crowd. “We are at a crossroads!” she called out. The brown faces of the crowd turned to focus on her. They looked needy, but determined. She could feel their resolve.

“America is in grim shape,” she said. “Our system is fundamentally broken.”

Her eyes searched the crowd, of men, women, and children who had gathered there. They were attentive, and now some of them looked concerned.

“It’s time for everyone to be worried. Because the worker has been forgotten.  Average wages are dropping, and work-”

“We want to work,” I man called from the front, his face earnest, and resolute. She stopped and felt empathy for the man, who stood there in faded pants, and a loose shirt that looked to have seen several seasons of sun-exposed work already.

“Yes, brother,” she said. “Work hard, but for what? Pennies, while the managers and bosses become rich.”

“I will be a manager,” the man replied.

She nodded, “I know you will work hard.  But the United States is a place that white men will try to prevent you from moving up. And not everyone can become managers. Then what will you do?”

She smiled sadly. “No, my friend, this is a country of inequality. ”

The man looked puzzled. She looked back out into the sea of faces and continued:

“It’s time we rise up. Refuse to be a contributor in this unfair system.”

She saw many of the faces drop in disappointment. Some gathered their things. They were beginning to understand how critical things were.

She stepped down from the crate and with a last wave, called out, “We can do this. Together we will bring down the racist patriarchy!”

She got into the car, feeling satisfied at making an impact.  She turned to her aid. “I think that went well.”

“Miss Cortez, these are migrants from south of the border trying to get into the United States.”

Her eyes grew wide and she quickly lowered her window to see the group of people starting to disperse. “You are welcome here!” she shouted. “There is much to do and your hard work is appreciated.  With your help, we can get what you deserve from the rich class.”

Some of them perked up at this, but most continued packing their things.  Her message was serious. And it had made an impact:

The American dream… 

It didn’t really exist anymore.

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Her agenda was my agenda

kristenervin art

She ran her fingers through my hair and stopped to look at me questioningly.

I waited for her to say something. I was letting her lead; unusual for me, but I recognized she had more experience in this area than I did. I was at her place and she was in control.

“Do you want it long enough to tuck behind your ears?” she asked.

Yes, I replied, and she went to work. After a few minutes, she said, “I like that podcast. My boyfriend and I listened to him all the way down on our drive to Florida.”

“What?” I was puzzled.

“I just noticed your hat,” she said, indicating the Joe Rogan ball cap I’d laid on the shelf in front of us when I had sat down.

“Oh, yea, he’s got interesting talks,” I said. “Looong ones. Good for road trips.”

She continued cutting my hair, then I asked, “So what do you like about the podcast?”

She stopped for a minute, thinking. “You made me think,” she said, with a small laugh. “I don’t know. It’s just…he asks good questions. It’s a good conversation.”

“Yea,” I said. “He has interesting people on the show.”

Later, I thought about what she said. It seemed generic, “good conversation”. I realized the simplicity was why the podcast worked for the millions of fans.

He just talked. There was no agenda. He started the podcast without trying to do anything but record his conversations. And his conversations weren’t politically stamped, although he did talk about politics. He talked about everything. Fitness, food, relationships, haters, and happiness. He wanted to have a discussion.

His curiosity made the dialogue less about lecturing you, or accusing people, and more about sharing information.

His intention was not to set an example, but he ultimately does set an example: Be curious, be resepctful, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

How sneaky if that was his agenda all along?