I am a progressive. I believe in change. Anyone with a modicum of sense and conscience wants change. I agree with the notion of progress. But, what progress actually means is the issue. The bulldozing of the old order to usher in a new is something that should be carefully thought through… Revolution.
I was sixteen years old in Nineteen Sixty-Nine … I wrote a song about it. I witnessed those days and that revolution. My Senior-Class party was held at Cass-Dodge Park in Waterford, Michigan. That day, that party and park made national news. Here’s how it went down. We were being our usual selves doing what we knew best … say party. I heard the commotion and wandered toward the fray. Standing beneath a tree was a guy with a rabbit held close to his chest and a bottle of wine. Surrounding him was park security. They were trying to extricate the man from the park… no alcohol allowed. But, surrounding us was a growing crowd of discontented on-lookers and several loud instigators. The air was filled with cries for revolution. I and my friends were close within the perimeter when we heard shouts from the back of the crowd. Turning I saw a very long line of shield-wielding police. The riot squad had arrived. They stretched from left to right in full regalia. Ok, we were freaking out… in the words of our day. When the tear-gas canisters started bouncing around us, I had enough. We scattered. Some ran into the lake pursued by the armed patrol. Billy-clubs were flailing, some were beaten, and many were cuffed. I and my friends made it to a distant parking area. The last image I caught of the event was a hazy, smoke-filled scene of chaos. Later that night I watched it replay on all three network broadcasts.
Earlier, I referred to the concept of revolution as the “bulldozing of the old order to usher in a new.” We back then hoped for that – longed for it. In the end, it never came. There were and have been some changes, but true, deep rooted progress seems lacking as far as I’m concerned. You see revolution is not a new order - only a circle. When a carousel makes a full-turn - that’s a revolution. What some today call progress is actually just spinning in circles.
Actual and useful change has to be within each individual. We each have to deal with that which lies within us. When we choose love over hate, faith over fear and beauty over the ugliness of our surroundings, change begins… and that is progress. Everything else is a façade. Kindness is revolution. Generosity is the spreading of that revolution. As individuals catch that fire, the bi-product is social change. That will last.