[This is an update of a post originally published in this space in May 2009.]
This is a blog about teaspoons.
It is a blog about feeling: All I ever do is try to empty the sea with this teaspoon; all I can do is keep trying to empty the sea with this teaspoon. And about remembering that a thousand people with teaspoons can move more earth than a dumptruck.
It is a blog about increments of measurement so infinitesimally tiny they haven't been given names, about glitches in the Matrix so swift and subtle that they are more easily missed than noticed, about tangible particles of a thing called progress not visible to the naked eye.
It is a blog about hope—not the kind that's packaged and sold in anti-aging creams, soda pop cans, or even political campaigns—but the real thing: A hopefulness that radiates like whoa from the pores of indefatigably optimistic dreamers, who close their eyes and tilt their faces up toward the sun and imagine a future where equality and freedom are not aspirational concepts, but defining features of every human life.
It is a blog about futures formidable and vast.
It is a blog about connection, and the realization that we are all in this thing together, and the resolve to be all in, because we make a difference in this world, for good or ill, because we know there is no neutral; there is no moral ambiguity in staying silent; there is only standing up and saying no to the indignities one human visits upon another, or saying yes.
It is a blog of wildly unreasonable expectations, because unreasonable expectations are the seeds of progress.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who knew well the perfidy of moderation, of the harm of pretending there were sidelines on which to stand, and of the need to advocate unyieldingly for progress, is not remembered for giving a speech about his resignation to the status quo. He is remembered because he admonished us not to wallow in the valley of despair and exhorted us to envision big things and told us to never be satisfied with less. He said to the world, "I have a dream," and that dream was what many people might have called in its time (and may call still) an unreasonable expectation.
Eradicating any kind of bigotry is, by definition, an unreasonable expectation—because institutional bigotry is deeply entrenched. Prejudice is ancient. Only a fool would imagine it can be overcome.
Except, of course, that it can be. Bit by bit. Particle by particle. Teaspoon by teaspoon. Person by person. Prejudice is ancient, but it dies with its every carrier and must be taught again. And it can be unlearned. Bit by bit. Particle by particle. Teaspoon by teaspoon. Person by person.
Patience, it takes, and boundless tenacity, to create people filled with expansive love and intractable respect for one another in a culture that casts us as enemies.
And it takes unreasonable expectations, the seeds of progress.
Thus, every time someone asks me, greets my bellicose display of unreasonable expectations with, the exceedingly un-progressive question, "What do you expect?" I will answer the same as I always do: I expect more.
Even now. Especially now—in a moment where we are aggressively overwhelmed by divisive, hateful, regressive maneuvering with the sinister intent to demoralize us. To telegraph that we should expect naught but disappointment; that we are helpless to do anything but stand to the side, silently witnessing the dismantlement of everything we value.
I still, and will ever, expect more.
Of course Trump is riding roughshod over our norms, laws, and very democracy. What do you expect?
I expect more.
Of course the Republican Party is abetting him. What do you expect?
I expect more.
Of course some Democrats are capitulating. What do you expect?
I expect more.
Of course lots of people aren't paying attention, don't care, turning their eyes away from the chilling creep of fascism, as if it will only matter once it starts to affect their lives, by which point it will be too late. What do you expect?
I expect more.
You can't expect for anything to be any different.
The fuck I can't. I expect more.
I'm not ironically detached, I'm not apathetic, I'm not resigned, and I'm not contemptuous of bleeding hearts or "identity politics" or genuine patriotism in defense of justice and pluralism, rooted in audacious visions of what this nation could be.
I am a greedy bitch with voracious expectations, and I dream long and lustfully of a better world that is both my muse and objective. I want it like the cracked earth of the desert wants rain, and I will neither apologize for nor amend my desire because of its remove from the here and now; its distance encourages my reach.
I expect resistance against tyranny, institutional bigotry, dominionism, and war-mongering, because it is our duty as citizens, as human beings. I expect more from myself, and from all of us, as oppressors careen toward obliteration, because complacency is complicity.
And because if we don't expect more, something better than a cacophonous descent into ruin, then we are certainly never going to get it.
Don't bother asking me what I expect.
You already know the answer.