Posted by: Mel Miles | November 8, 2016

If It’s Us or Them, it’s Us for Them.

Annnnnd, a victory speech for Trump. Lord, this was so difficult to write. When I write a speech, I take what I want them to say, and try to put it in the person’s cadence, use words they’re likely to use, the rhythms and tones that they usually employ. It was so hard to do that here without feeling like I was mocking. No mocking was intended here.

But at the same time, there was very little that I wanted Trump to say that was actually a plausible thing for him to say. I had to straight up go into a dream world fairy tale. So be it. Here we go:

Thank you.

Everyone said I wouldn’t be here. I have to admit, I was starting to believe them.  This is really something, isn’t it?

I’m honored. So honored. Believe me.

I’ve been a candidate who has not fit the expectations. In any way. Nobody thought I’d win the primary, nobody thought I’d have so many supporters at my rallies, nobody thought I’d be so close with Hillary, and nobody expected I’d be here today.

But here we are. This is beautiful, isn’t it?

I have to tell you, though. I’ve been having a dream, the same dream every night for the past 3 nights. It’s really, really affected me. I’ve wanted to tweet about it, but my campaign thought it would lose me votes. They can’t stop me now, I’m president.

Man, it feels great to say that. President Trump.

But in this dream I wake up and I’m different. I look in a mirror and I’m a woman. Like, a Mexican woman. And I just know that I’m an immigrant, and I know I’ve been working, like really, really hard, and there are calluses on my hands. I think I’m like a maid or something. I go through my day and I’m getting so angry because people are pushing me on the subway, and I’m working hard, but nobody cares, and somebody pinches my ass and tells me to go back to Mexico. I have a wallet, and there’s a driver’s license and a social security card in there. I have proof I’m a citizen. But they treat me so poorly. Like really poorly. Bad.

Now I’m never pushed around. EVER. People don’t do that. So this dream is very upsetting to me. It’s made me understand things I didn’t know I didn’t understand.  My eyes are opened, believe me.

I understand that women and Mexicans and immigrants and poor people are people. It’s such a simple concept, yeah? Like ooh, ahh, Trump knows what a person is. But what I expect from them, and what I believe is good and right for them, for the whole of the American people, really, has changed.  Bigly.

So I’ve been thinking about what I want to do as president. I’m looking forward to shaking up Washington. It’s been long overdue, this is what the people want, and I am the voice of the people. Lobbyists have had their last good day. Cronyism ends on January 20th, 2017. We’re gonna drain that swamp.

We’re gonna have smart people, who also understand that people are people, who are going to address economic disparities. People have plenty to lose.

And we’re going to realize that the people we hate are still people. That’s what America is. We’re going to bring back the American backbone that is brave and knows that evil can’t bend us. We’re going to look at terrorists and be the opposite. Where they say people deserve to die, we’re going to say all deserve to live. We have the most resources, the smartest people, we really have the power to bring a lot, a lot of good. This is how we’re going to make America great again.

Get ready America. This presidency will be something like you’ve never seen.

Good night.

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Posted by: Mel Miles | November 1, 2016

Are You Strong Enough To Bend?

I wrote a theoretical victory speech for HRC. This is what I would like her to say:

Wow. Thank you.

We are here in this moment. All major news outlets have declared me the winner of the 2016 election. I have not received a concession call from my opponent, but from the moment he was nominated as his party’s candidate, I knew that would be a call that would never come.

But I am your president, and one man’s opinion will not change that fact.

I’d like to take a brief moment to thank those who voted for me. I vow to spend every waking moment committed to proving that your trust in me was well founded. I thank you from the depths of my heart. But every speech I have delivered during the course of this campaign has been directed at you. You have heard me. Through your votes I have heard you. But would like to take this time to speak to those who did not vote for me.

Through your votes I have heard you, too. I know that these are hard times for you. I know that there are many things that bring you fear, that bring you worry, that makes you feel like the very roots of your existence are being ripped from the earth.

I am your president, and I am listening.

I tell you that I am for you. I want to see you employed. Healthy. Happy. I want your children to have every opportunity and grace that is needed to build a solid future. You, your household, and your neighbors are my first priority, and I feel I am uniquely qualified and eager to serve you in the best possible way.

I will do everything in my power toward this end.

But I will tell you what I will not do. I will not paint your neighbor as a murderer who is out for your blood. For your neighbor is American, too. I will not sacrifice the rights of others to make you more comfortable in your own life, for that is the most un-American thing I can think of. We are not a separate people. We are Americans, and we go together, or we fail.

I know that many of you feel that I am unworthy of my new role in your country. I would ask that you remember that the greatness of our country lies not in its elected officials, but in its people. Be strong in your kindness to one another. Remember that this country was not built on the District of Columbia, or it’s companies, or it’s military. The only reason that America exists is because of its people, and because of the things we have done together.

We are at a crucial time in our country where divisiveness is tearing at our core. I do not see Daesh as our primary threat. Our greatest danger is choosing to see enemies within ourselves which will inevitably make us crumble from the inside. There will continue to be divisive talk on both sides of our system. Elite or everyman, democrat or republican, wealthy or poor, gay or straight. There are limitless ways to be separated from one another.

Our future has never been more in your hands.

Supporting America does not necessarily mean supporting me. It means standing with your neighbors. Especially when you disagree with them. When you want a fellow American to fall, you want America itself to fall. I urge you to see each other with new eyes.

I am honored, excited, and eager to begin work as your president. I think there are many, many good things ahead for us. And we will go together.

Thank you.

Posted by: Mel Miles | February 29, 2016

So Bless My Heart, And Bless Yours, Too

I have been campaigning hard against a certain presidential candidate that I have taken to referring to only as Honey Badger. Because his hair reminds me of spun honey. Because that viral video said that honey badgers don’t give a… fudge. And because all of the poisonous things that should kill a honey badger never seem to kill a honey badger. Bees, snakes, the beast is miraculously impervious. It fits. It’s got layers.

Before I head into this next part, I want to make it clear that I think that this man in a position of governmental power would be a fantastically destructive thing and I will do all in my power to encourage as many as possible to realize the depths of that destruction and vote accordingly.

But I’m not… afraid… of that possibility. Well, sometimes I am. I’ve had a couple episodes where I go cold and lose feeling in my fingers and toes. Usually when I find myself reading the comments section of some HuffPo article, and lose track of who I am. I only sometimes want to watch the world burn, and more often I want open my veins to save it or even make it just a little tiny bit less flammable. I am not going to be afraid for more than a moment. Not if there is anything I can do to help it.

So. This is a list that I am focusing on in order to stay focused on what matters, and push through to at least better versions of myself in the face of the growing probability that Honey Badger is the next leader of the free world.

1. There is a chance that somehow he will end up being the best person for that office. This is a biggie. It requires faith in something entirely other and far larger than Honey Badger to place any significant trust in this line of thinking, but I have it, and I can. Anyone who thinks they know the entirety of the future is a fool, and we honestly have no idea what kind of president he will be. Leave the door open to good possibilities, or you won’t see them if/when they come.

2. The pendulum swings. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama… As a conglomerated people we can’t hold on to one party’s ideology for long, and as we grow more emotionally driven, as we expand what it means to be whatever label we apply to ourselves, maybe we need someone of Honey Badger’s ilk to snap the chain, send the swinging weight crashing back down to earth, smashing everything and bring us back to some semblance of reason. Like a feverish nightmare that wakes us up to a gas leak that would kill us in our sleep. A ‘standard’ candidate couldn’t possibly do that. Even if the chain remains, imagine what level of anti-Honey Badger the pendulum will swing us to next.

3. The bold voices and bright souls who are already working to make the most just, accountable, kind, equal, living world do not sing and shine through the president. Quite the opposite. Things that have started moving, realizations that are being made, hearts that are softening, all these will continue, possibly even warmed by those fires that only hatred and oppression can light. Maybe those glowing things need a little more darkness around them to be most plainly seen.

4. We have survived terrible presidents before.

5. We will learn. My God, will we learn. Learning is good and vital and builds in us all the things we need to build things up around us.

6. It is straight up dumb to mourn the results of elections made under a(n even kinda) democratic system. Push for the best candidates, point out weaknesses and strengths in various candidates, encourage people to vote, but in the end, this is just another cost of society. We may not choose what our neighbors choose, but we still live on the same street. If it doesn’t go our way, we make the best of it and move on.

Yes, it matters who we elect. But more than that, it matters who we are. The good among us will still be good among us, and those who are otherwise can change. We still build, we still grow, we still are who we are. Ain’t no Honey Badger, or Sanders, or Clinton, or Cruz, or Rubio or anyone else gonna change that.

 

Posted by: Mel Miles | January 27, 2015

We Were Built For This

I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this. I’ve wanted to write about the progression of my personal political beliefs forever, and never really had enough motivation or time to do so. Plus, let’s be honest- nobody really cares. The people who I most want to understand this progression of mine are mostly people who really don’t like talking about politics, yet still use them to judge a person’s quality. So I’m answering questions that nobody has ever really asked, and that’s always a pretentious, almost painfully vain thing to do. It’s taken me a long time to get this written in a good voice, with every possible bit of bitterness taken out of it. It’s been a hard process.

Moving away from the conservative foundation of my younger years has cost me a damn lot, and I don’t say that lightly. It always costs something to be different. While I was raised conservative, I was also raised to value intelligence and integrity. Those values, along with my passionate and wonkily devoted faith in a Bible-based God are the sole motivators in my political beliefs. It has nothing to do with pledging allegiance to anyone or any party. It has zero to do with rebelling against the way I was raised. And if you don’t know by now how little I care about being “cool” or “acceptable” you must be new here. Welcome! My name is Mel. Let’s talk.

Please note that this is in no way an attempt to change your perspective, or start fights. I’m just telling a story. But, as always, respectful conversation and even debate are always welcome. So long as you don’t get mean or irrational, I will love it. Discourse is always helpful in digging out truth.

Early Thoughts:

There are really only two childhood events that I can recall right now that started shaping my political bent. The first being the Branch Davidian siege in Waco when I was 10 years old. I remember watching thick black smoke billowing out of the busted compound windows and being nearly overwhelmed with the understanding that this was the work of evil. There was nothing good accomplished in that conflict. I remember thinking that it was the job of a democratically elected government to counter evil, and they did a poor job of it that day. Death won.

The second would be the media frenzy that leading up to the execution of Karla Faye Tucker in 1996. So many Christians fought for her death sentence to be overturned. Most (if not all) who argued for her life to be spared by the state did so because she had become a Christian while incarcerated and as such had been properly “reformed.” I thought it was duplicitous for Christians to want another Christian to be spared, knowing that her eternity was with Christ, whereas non-Christian offenders, who were still in dire need of redemption had earned condemnation to an early arrival in hell. It wasn’t until 6 or 7 years later that I was able to adequately define what had me so confused about that whole scenario.

Beginning of the End:

It was actually a close scrutiny of the death penalty that started loosening my grip on my Republicanism. When I started analyzing it in the light of my beliefs, paired with my understanding of logistics, legal process, economics and all the other fiddly bits that fall under the giant umbrella of governmental oversight, the logic of the death penalty started unraveling.

From my faith, I realized that our bodies are the vehicles by which we travel to God. By pushing breath in and out of our lungs, we have the ability to seek, find, and come into accordance with God. Once that life is taken from us, our spiritual status remains frozen forever. Unrepentant sinners go to eternal damnation, sinners who have realized their position as saints under the blood of Christ go on to eternal reward. As a Christian then, whom the Bible repeatedly exhorts to bring others into the knowledge of Christ, one of the most basic actions we can do towards that end is to simply keep people alive. Those who have been saved are then able to further the message and keep other people alive, those who have not been saved are given more time to travel to the point they encounter Abba.

A little more research provided a handful of other reasons why the death penalty was a bad idea. Innocent people are found guilty far more often than I am comfortable with. Putting someone to death for a crime they did not commit can’t be called anything less than murder. After the legally required appeals process, as well as the cost of death row and executions, a single death sentence can cost up to 7 times more than a life sentence in prison. Look it up. Some argue that family members of victims need executions to feel justice has been served in the loss of their loved ones. Few family members actually report that the death of the killers actually bring a sense of closure, and most end up saying that time alone provided the relief needed. But even if execution did provide closure, do we really need to build policy on vengeance? Is that the best world we can build for ourselves?

That one fact alone was a mental earthquake. The death penalty was wrong. Republicans were wrong. I had been wrong. What else was I wrong about?

Built and Then Burnt, Hurrah, Hurrah:

I started praying for a way to navigate all the bajillion of questions that started flooding my mind. I had to start taking issues one at a time, spending hours flipping them around in my mind, trying to find an opinion on each one that remained compatible to my faith and my understanding. It was a beast. Twenty two-ish Mel had a time of it. I had to take long drives to suss things out. But I liked it. I like thinking about things.

The more I thought and pondered, I noticed a pattern emerging. One idea consistently worked across issues, across every lense I could pass things under, and that was the fact (yes, I’m going to call it a fact) that life matters.

Brass Tacks:

LIFE MATTERS. It should be fought for, it should be protected, it should be held as precious, it should be valued above all else… Human life is paramount. Period.

A few years ago, proclaiming those last few sentences would have drawn a cheer from most conservatives, as “life” in political discourse was relegated nearly exclusively to the topic of abortion. Republicans will argue passionately for the value of life when the life is unborn.

But when you start applying to concept of valuable life to our policies of war, gun control, the death penalty… Suddenly life ceases to have the same weight. This is where we see the destructive properties of rhetoric, where whole groups of people believe (sometimes with near violent passion) in ideals simply because they have been told to by a religious or political leader, and never gone through the arduous steps of questioning what they have been told.

Mark Twain wrote about this phenomenon after getting briefly getting caught up into fighting for the south in the Civil War without having any particular convictions for doing so. He went because he had nothing else to do, and all his buddies were doing it. After hearing of a Yankee general bearing down on their position, Twain and his friends turned tail and ran. After returning home and processing the whole progression of events, he wrote: “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

When you don’t question what you have been told, you will always bring remarkable destruction. Everyone is wrong about something. To be right about everything is to be God, and mortals are not God. Question everything. Then grow and learn and question everything again. Adjust your beliefs and behavior as needed. It’s the only hope we have of not being walking landmines for each other.

The College Years:

Over the last few years I finished my college degree (whoo hoo!) and my political science classes shored up some of my beliefs, challenged others, definitely gave me plenty more things to factor into my ponderings. School is really useful for that.

One professor loved to hammer into us the human condition as defined by Hobbes- that the life of man is “nasty, brutish and short.” I suppose it can be that for some. Humans carry a remarkable capacity for evil, callousness, aggression, hatred. But we also carry a remarkable capacity for compassion, selflessness, charity, love. Which ever we value in ourselves as individuals can and should be valued in our government.

My classes also helped me realize that quality of life matters almost as much as life itself does. A good government should value healthy citizens, accountability for bad actions, care and stewardship of resources, space for differing opinions/lifestyles (we are all wrong about something, remember), and the justice that comes from building a culture unburdened by sexism/ageism/racism/etc. and the fairest judicial system that can be conceived in the minds of humanity. To do less than this is to allow people to remain in an unnecessarily stressed place where they are far less likely to be able to maintain sound relationships with others, or with God.

Moving Forward:

My goals as of now are to be aware of the myriad places where our culture accepts death and work against it. From people calling for the genocide of Daesh, to abortion, to the hero worship of soldiers, to the minimal effort we give to keep the people of Africa from falling to every numerous thing that tries to take their lives… It’s a crazy long list. Early death has a pretty strong foothold in this world. I don’t have to accept it. I plan to keep seeking truth and ask good questions, and look for people who are asking good questions, too. It’s a small community, but good things are being built. Future generations will be better from these questions. I plan to keep wrestling with things that don’t make sense. I plan to relish every good debate I can find, and hold on to every challenging fact I’m presented with. I plan to do as justly as I can, to love mercy with all my ability, and to walk humbly with my God to the extent that I’m allowed to keep pulling breath into my lungs.

Because life matters.

Posted by: Mel Miles | November 25, 2014

The Smoke Said We’re Not Half As Bad As God Is Good.

I got to watch the Ferguson verdict tonight. I was at my very non-political sister’s home. She knew I was having a hard time and tried to administer therapy in the form of her 10 day old, freshly bathed, sweet smelling son. I think I got tears on him, but he did help. As I watched the prosecutor lie blatantly, heard reporters perpetuate racist stereotypes without even trying, and braced for what just had to be another tear gas-soaked evening in Missouri, I hoped that Obama would have a moment of great leadership and stem the tide of this great miscarriage of justice. As he spoke, I muttered at the TV with all the spent passion of a fan who was loyal to the league’s worst team. “C’mon Obama, say something useful. Please.” My sister asked me what I wanted him to say. I told her I wanted a vision of what the future should look like. He almost touched on it a time or two, and backed off before it got to anything useful. So, as a means of processing, here is what I wish he would have said:

My fellow Americans,

Tonight has been hard. We have had to revisit the last moments of a young man, and try to make sense once again of his death. Like many of you, I grieve for the loss of Michael Brown, and ache to see justice in America such that no life should be taken by violence, from an officer of the law nor anyone else. But there was a death, and there was the process of law that followed.

One of the strongest strengths of America is our belief in the rule of law. Nobody is above it, all are held accountable for their actions. Tonight, the law has found Officer Darren Wilson innocent. No amount of words or actions will change that. We can disagree with the outcome, but we cannot reverse it.

There are some who point to this incident and say that justice was miscarried. That does happen on occasion. For all our strength, we are a nation made of people, and people are very imperfect. We are incapable of creating perfection in our judicial systems.

Our Attorney General Eric Holder continues the federal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. If there was any stone left unturned, any fact that escaped scrutiny, I trust him and his team to find it. I am willing to believe that Officer Darren Wilson’s innocence will be able to withstand further investigation.

But let us not forget that all the events of August 9th and the days since are not purely about the death of Michael Brown. They have only served to show us that racism is still an ugly problem in our nation. I am glad to be able to stand before you tonight as evidence of the progress we’ve made, but there is still more to do. May God help us if we ever perceive our culture to be without room for improvement.

The parents of Michael Brown have asked the nation to respond to tonight’s verdict with peaceful protests. I admire their desire for peace, and echo it. I know many of you are angry. It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of such things and feel like the only option is violence. I tell you it is not.

Ferguson has become the lightning rod of racism in America. To judge the actions of someone based on the color of their skin is unacceptable, because it strips away the humanity of that person. You cease to see their motives, their judgement, all the things that make us complex and worthwhile, you only see a stereotype. You only see what you think you’re going to see, you only hear what you think you’re going to hear, and anything that happens differently from your expectations is just an easily dismissable anomaly.

In the days to come, I strongly urge you to push your hardest to see the actual humanity in each other, regardless of colors. For those who are charged with the protection of the American people, please see the humanity of those who you might otherwise see as an immediate threat. For those who feel a need to protest, please see the humanity of the officers in front of you. For those in expensive houses, for those who can’t afford their rent, those who speak English or Spanish, for the republicans and the democrats, tall and short, large and thin, see the humanity in each other and act accordingly.

To do anything less is to react out of fear. Fight fear with all you have, for it will take you no place worth your while.

We are the most exquisite country in the world. Our people, flawed as we may be, are the reason we have what we have. We have not been our best. We can be better. We will be better. Thank you and good night.

Posted by: Mel Miles | August 25, 2013

I can only breathe your name

I’ve been thinking a lot about breath lately. Mostly because if I run for more than 90 seconds at a go, my lungs clamp shut like the hatch on a submarine. I’ve googled exercises (lie down and hold your torso off the ground for 100 seconds, because if you’re having trouble breathing you’ll TOTALLY be able to do that), food remedies (don’t eat anything you didn’t grow yourself), and mental strategies (train your body to take one breath in every 4 steps, out every 4 steps). In the end, I still end up huffing and puffing.

There’s a weird mental aspect to it, too. I had asthma really bad as a kid. Really bad. I remember one of my worst experiences was when I was 6 or 7. We were out running errands with our friends and their mom, and they wanted to go visit the pet shop. After being in there for a few minutes my body revolted, and I couldn’t breathe. Not a bit. I passed out. I don’t remember falling, but I remember my eyes flying open after I cracked my head on the linoleum and seeing a single rabbit turd under the cage in front of me.”This is how I’m going to die. Gasping like a landed fish with poop in front of me.” Strange to say, but well over 2 decades later running out of air puts me right back there, feeling like I’m going to die in the presence of feces.

This morning the pastor spent most of the sermon on breath. How vital it is to life. How breath swept up the dust and the First Adam entered the world. I was reminded that the curtain in the temple was torn when the Last Adam had his last breath. Breathing is a tremendously vivid reminder of so many acts of Love.  And I find myself almost daily struggling to breathe.

Posted by: Mel Miles | December 7, 2011

I would have loved to see you try

I’ve dabbled in lots of charitable efforts. Food banks, orphanages, meals on wheels, mission trips, non-profit thrift stores, “pay-what-you-can” cafes, Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. And I don’t say this to paint myself with a saintly brush- Most of these I’ve done exactly once, and you’ve probably done more than me.

But Help Portrait is different than all of these, and I’ve been mulling for weeks trying to find the words to express why.

I think it’s because it forced me to see people.

There never really was a homeless problem in Dallas. There were a few here or there, but laws required police to pick them up and cart them away. Everything has to look perfect in Dallas, don’t you know. In Austin they’re everywhere. I think that was the first place I noticed them. But they’re everywhere in Denver too. It was here that I learned to ignore them. And that’s the whole story.

If you make eye contact, you’re responsible. You have acknowledged that they are there, that they are human, that you are human, that you are in a nice warm car, that they are out on the street, that you are clean and well fed, and they are dirty and probably hungry, and you have to make a decision as to how you are going to bring justice to that unspeakably huge gap.

Because I had the latitude to do so back in Texas, I developed a belief that the homeless were there by some unknown fault of their own. They had trusted obviously horrible people and should have known better. They had drunk away all their money. They had become drug addicts and couldn’t keep a job because they were high all the time. Without seeing the reality of their humanity, it’s easy to imagine problems that take the responsibility off your shoulders.

In Denver, you learn to not read signs, not notice men and women standing inches from your car. Eyes forward, don’t let them see you see them. But you know they are there. And they know you know. And you both play a tableau, the moral of which portrays you as someone who isn’t required to notice.

But they are people. You should notice.

I don’t think I fully understood this until a year ago, when I first volunteered for Help Portrait. It just sounded like a good idea to me. Taking pictures of the less fortunate? Spiffy.

But through the course of the day, I found myself tearing up multiple times. Not because there were sob stories that were being shared, or because these so-called “lower class” people were muttering “God bless you” as they shuffled off with a plate of food. It was because these people were being seen to a degree that they were not used to, and they were blooming under the light of simple gazes. They were seen, and they were seen as people, and they were worthy of being captured on film to be shown to whoever for eternity. That made for incredibly beautiful pictures, and tangible equality.

Everywhere you looked there were smiles and flash bulbs. Everything sounded of laughter and shutters, and it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever had the privilege to be part of.

If you have any ability whatsoever to do so, I can’t push you hard enough to join in with your local Help Portrait group. Go here to see if there’s a group in your area. Most places have 2 hour shifts, so you don’t even have to commit your whole day. If you’re in Denver, come to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on 9th. Set-up starts at 8:30, with plans to be out by 6.

If you can’t or choose not to go to Help Portrait, I beg you to at least try to take notice of those who you’ve been avoiding. No matter who they are. And let me know what you see.

Posted by: Mel Miles | October 15, 2011

Burn this city down

Hello Occupiers.

You make me happy. You really do. I love your passion, I love your growing numbers. I even kinda like your incessant honking and refusal to wear deodorant. Most of all I love that you are doing SOMETHING. Action in democracy is vital, and boy howdy. You are acting.

But seriously. Let’s sit a minute and take a look at what is going down. You’re against the inequality in America, yeah? How 1% have it all and the rest of us poor shmucks are the remaining 99% who have to work for whatever levels of success we have? You want the rich to be taxed, and corporations to be held to the same levels of financial responsibility as the rest of us. I get that. In part I strongly agree with you.

But if that is what you want to change, this is not the way to do it.

The more I hear from, and read about, and speak to you, the more I’m convinced that you are very much like a group of peasants from the middle ages who are declaring a castle to be under siege by grouping in the middle of said castle. Commerce is swirling around you and you are stopping nothing.

Try this:

Step 1: Take your 99%, and boycott a single company that you feel most exemplifies the oppressive policies that you despise. Make a short but plain list of demands (health care for their workers, a percentage of their profits given back to communities and/or charities, a commitment to hire X number of fresh college graduates or those who have been unemployed by X date, whatever you feel would be most beneficial). Boycott their stores, shame their biggest buyers, inflict a financial hurt on the machine.

Step 2: Once your demands have been met, move on to a different company and start a new boycott. But not until you have compliance from Company #1. Don’t spin your wheels.

Step 3: Educate yourself regarding the mentalities of your current politicians, and the policies of your Federal, State and Local governments. Vote your butts off.

Money and votes are what will affect change. Chants and signs will not. You are not using your voice, you are making a statement. Statements are easily ignorable. Ask the fashion industry.

But you’re on the right track, I think. You have people standing up, and that is a very big and exciting thing. Now get them moving in the right direction and you will change the world.

Mel.

P.S. Comparing yourselves to people in Egypt or Libya or the like is just insulting. Please stop that.

Posted by: Mel Miles | September 27, 2011

Just to see what if…

I got deliciously wound-up at my Foreign Policy class last night. And, since I had a long lunch, I started writing a replacement speech that I wish would have been delivered instead of Bush’s “Hear you” speech. I kinda like how it came out.

My Fellow Americans.

Like you, I stand here today, with a wealth of very strong emotions. I am primarily outraged that so many innocent lives were taken on our own soil. I am grieving for and with the families of those who lost loved ones in these senseless actions. I worry about what this means for the future of our world.

But with these emotions I am also exceedingly proud. Proud of the men and women who have worked around the clock to bring order to the chaos of Ground Zero here in New York, proud of the passengers of Flight 93, who took it upon themselves to bring swift action to bear in the face of evil deeds, and proud of the American people, who have put aside all differences to support each other in so many numerous and beautiful ways.

It is human nature to want to strike back immediately, decisively, and make such a statement that any rational creature would not think about
perpetrating an act like this against any nation ever again.

If the acts on 9/11 had been the organized act of a sovereign nation, I would not be standing here before you today. I would be in a war room, tracking the movement of our troops as they brought swift justice to our aggressors.

It pains me greatly that we are not afforded that option today. There cannot be clean military retaliation, because we were not subjected to a clean military act. Those who attacked us have no flag. They have no specific geographic location.

We were attacked by an idea. An idea that Americans and those who ascribe to our ideals are deserving of nothing but death. The people who hold that idea as truth are cunning, disperse themselves amongst the innocents of both foreign and domestic lands, and do not care if they or those around them die, save to use deaths as fuel for the fires of their hatred. They are most certainly expecting us to use our esteemed military to come down upon them even now.

As much as our hurt would drive us to retaliate, I would like to assert that we, as Americans, are better than that.

It is not my intention or desire to start a war where hundreds of thousands of people, with an unknown ratio of guilty to innocent, will die by our guns, or by our bombs. Such actions should haunt us more than yesterday’s actions ever could.

That is not to say that I will move forward without decisive action. We will use guns. We will use guns to protect our borders, we will increase the numbers and the quality of our intelligence units, and perhaps most importantly we will create a panel of experts, in both military and civilian fields to find a way to wage war against this idea that seeks so desperately to do us harm.

We will not, I repeat, WILL NOT, lay down our identity in response to the actions of a handful of evil men. We will promote justice. We will keep our freedoms no matter what. We will maintain the moral compass that has served us so well during the course of our statehood.

And more than that, we will not be afraid. For we too, are an idea. We are an idea that all men are created equal, and that when equal men stand together, nothing can tear them down. It is an idea so powerful, that those who do not understand will fight against it.

But our idea cannot be marked by theirs. It is too pure, too real, too inspiring to even be touched by any level of hate.

And so, fellow Americans, I look forward to standing together with you. I look forward to a reality where evil deeds are not met with emotional response, but with the power that comes from clear and forward thought. For that is who we are, and that is what we will do.

We will be stronger because of this.

Thank you.

Posted by: Mel Miles | September 24, 2011

If not now, when?

A good friend recently told me to write so I would know what’s in my heart.

I don’t really want to know what is in my heart. When in I get into these places I become convinced that I am as rotten and vile as they come. I believe it more than I believe that this stuff in my lungs is air, and that air keeps me alive. I am broken, I am a blight upon the world.

But I’ve been mind-writing just the same, because I don’t know what else to do.

And it has helped. I wrote about hope, I wrote about a well crafted meal, I wrote about passion. Because as much as this season sucks, and as much as it’s my fault, it is driven by the same passion that makes me care about the state of the world around me. It’s the same passion that makes me fight over and over again for what I believe. The same heart that explodes when I’m at the top of a mountain is the same one that implodes when I’m stuck in a valley. Gotta take the bad with the good. I am passionate, ergo, my highs are excruciatingly beautiful, and my lows are soul-crushing. So be it.

Hopefully I’ll get more mileage out of this season of shit than just “Mel is passionate,” but it’s enough for now.

And my dog Bro just planted his cold, wet nose into my elbow and wagged his tail like mad. I guess that counts for something too.

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