the BLOG of stuart mcdonald


The Low Road
December 14, 2009, 8:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

This evening I was watching “THE PEOPLE SPEAK” on the History channel. The History channel website does a more than adequate job of describing the idea behind THE PEOPLE SPEAK: “Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, THE PEOPLE SPEAK gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history, forging a nation from the bottom up with their insistence on equality and justice. Narrated by Howard Zinn and based on his best-selling books, A People’s History of the United States and Voices of a People’s History of the United States, THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.”

There was one piece, done towards the end of the program, that stuck out to me tremendously. It was perhaps as much the piece itself as it was the way it was read by renowned spoken word poet Staceyann Chin (If you Google her and watch her perform another piece, you’ll see why I say that). While I wish I could find a full video or audio recording, after searching high and low, it wasn’t around. So I’ve just included the poem below. Enjoy

The Low Road
by Marge Piercy

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 blame 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 organisation. 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 after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

[Copyright 2006, Middlemarsh, Inc.]

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