When does it start?

Instead of asking “where does it end” as Conservatives are want to do when confronted with some new social change like gay marriage today or second-wave feminism 40 years ago or the science of Galileo 400 years ago — true progressives ought to ask:

“when does it start?”

Howard Zinn gave a fantastic speech on Alternative Radio in which he concluded with this poem by Marge Piercy entitled “the low road” from her work The Moon is Always Female.  This explains why “when does it start” ought to be the battle cry of progress.

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and you know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

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