By Dawn’s Early Light

In which RVA talks about apple pie and protests…

The two weeks between June 19th and July 4th are the most Patriotic days of the year in the United States.  July 4th is the day we celebrate the signing of the declaration of independence, our breakup letter with England back in the Colonial Days.  Nevermind that it wasn’t actually signed by everybody until August sometime.  People say its America’s birthday.  Cool, great.

June 19th – or Juneteenth – is the observance of when federal troops were used to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.  Even though the proclamation was signed in 1862, it wasn’t actually enforced locally until three years later.  The first time federal troops rolled up into Texas and actually told slave owners ‘nah, son, you gotta let them go’, that’s what June 19th is celebrating.  The two holidays go hand-in-hand, really.  July 4th is when the first American freedoms were born; June 19th is when the least of American freedoms were finally delivered.

We’ll talk about things like the Burt Lake Burnout, Manzanar War Relocation Center, and Hutto Residential Center, another time.

But the point is, July 4th is like getting your learner’s permit when you’re 15.  Juneteenth is the unrestricted license you get at 16. Continue reading “By Dawn’s Early Light”

What’s Right of What’s Left

In which RVA discusses societal responsibilities…

With all the societal unrest of late, there’s been a lot of talk about ‘rights’.  And I don’t mean ‘of late’, as in the last week.  I mean…well, hell, my whole life.  A child of the 1980s, I was born into a society that was struggling with the social contract for as long as I can remember.  Maybe that struggle began before the ink was even dried on said contract.

In the United States, are concept of rights is defined by our legal system, specifically the Constitution (the Bill of Rights is actually just the first ten amendments in the Constitution).  27 Amendments currently sit on the books, with a good hundred or so proposed every year congress is in session.  Earlier rights deal with individuals, whereas later rights are generally a bit more institutional.

The question becomes, though, does the presence of a right suggest a corresponding responsibility?  If you have the right to bear arms, do you have the corresponding responsibility to carry and use that firearm in a particular manner (IE responsibly)?  With the right to free speech, do you have a responsibility to speak the truth or speak accurately in some fashion?

Or are responsibilities wholly independent?

We codify rights, but not responsibilities.  I think that may say quite a bit right there.

And maybe solving some of our problems might come from doing just that: defining our societal responsibilities.

There is hope

In which RVA talks about why to be hopeful, now more than ever…

In the past few weeks, you could be forgiven for thinking society was unraveling.  Fires, protests, abuses.  It can seem terrifying.

But the thing is, this isn’t society collapsing: it’s society changing.  And where there is change, there is discomfort and even pain.  But there is opportunity.  And where there is opportunity, there is hope.

Write elected officials.  The more local, the better.  Sure, your senators might not listen but you’d be amazed at how responsive a governor can be.  A state representative.  A mayor.  School board.  The closer to the ground, the more effect it can have.  And if you don’t think writing the school board will have an effect, remember they decide what kids learn and how they learn it.  Telling them to use good text books instead of shoddy ones can make a huge difference right there.

That’s another trick to it all: try to be specific.  Writing and saying ‘this needs to change’ is good.  Excellent, even.  But if you can say ‘vote for House Bill 123’, it can be a lot clearer.  And a lot more effective.  Because you aren’t just telling them what to do, you are telling them how you are measuring their effectiveness and responsiveness.

It’s a scary time, yes.  But there’s cause to be hopeful.

Very hopeful.

Black Lives Matter

In which RVA stays silent…

Its been really hard to engage in social media interactions, to produce or promote works of art, in the current climate.  When civilization as we know it is on the precipice of a reckoning long overdue, it seems a tad tactless to say ‘hey, who wants to read about some robots?’.

I get why some people have continued to promote and share their art during this time, and I don’t begrudge them that one bit.  Compassion fatigue is real, and you have to consider your emotional reserves.  Entertainment and distraction are often overlooked and neglected aspects of survival, both long-term and immediate.

But I don’t feel right doing it.

The radio silence will end and I will resume chattering about books and stories and fiction and all that.  But for now, I’m choosing to remain silent and listen.

Minnesota Riots

In which RVA reminds you to remember your training…

The disconnect between what people enjoy and what they want always surprises me.  And frankly, troubles me.

Right now, as I write this, Minneapolis Minnesota is the cite of riots connected to the shooting of George Floyd.  The municipal and state police have been mobilized, as have the national guard.  Politicians and social activists are chiming in.  Marching.  Chanting.  Looting.  Rioting.  Arrests.  You know the deal.  You’ve seen this movie before. Continue reading “Minnesota Riots”