I am seeking help.
I arrived here a few months ago with my latest release most pieces are scattered: Reflections of a High School Shooter, a work of fiction exploring the underlying causes of school shootings (and many issues among youth) in America. Powell's won't carry my book, the discovery of which was akin to awaking to find no presents under the tree. Annie Bloom Books won't carry the book. Neither will Looking Glass Bookstore or Twenty-third Avenue Books. Of course Borders instructed me to contact the head office.
Reading Frenzy is retailing the book but won't return calls to schedule a speaking gig.
KBOO is not interested in discussing the root causes of school shootings, either. They've got Hip Hop to play to a community which prides itself on liberalism, as long as the imminent activism is scheduled when they're not working or sipping beer, smoking pot or talking smack about "those nasty corporations" over a cup of non-fat decaf vegan latte. No other local radio station or newspaper is interested in talking about the ugliness in American culture that influences children to kill, either.
Cafes have been approached to allow me to initiate discussions as well... "Aren't school shootings an indicator of a culture gone wrong?" I ask.
They do not respond.
I've conducted speaking gigs at libraries to small or no crowds. I do understand the competition in this town is severe, and of high quality, so this is not so much a whine as it is a plea for an audience.
In my talks I discuss the parallel between war in school and in the Middle East. I draw a parallel between the bullying of the Bush Administration and the bullying so common among youth. I explore the roots of anger and hatred in us and in our children, and in our government...
I showcase the pain induced by a culture that prioritizes personal gain over the welfare of the community.
"Heard it all before," you say.
How about that the format of school is largely responsible for most teen issues in that "school" does not facilitate feelings of belonging, harmony, peace, love, joy or meaning... therefore denting every American kid's identity over twelve hard-hitting years... therefore snuffing out the natural will of all children to be good, loving and peaceful... therefore stifling creativity of ones so naturally prone to create and play ... therefore discouraging critical thinking... oh school, a gas chamber for the spirit in us all... a death camp for the academically unsuccessful and the socially inept... an oppressor breaking the people to helplessness and powerlessness leaving them to rely only on the promise of a good "career" to repair the desolation....
"Heard it," you say.
What of the status-consciousness, image-consciousness, fashion-consciousness and self-consciousness that supersedes community-consciousness, global-consciousness, environmental and "other-consciousness" in our communities? Teenagers are watching... they're learning... adopting values... acting in ways that reveal shallow attiudes... self-centeredness... self-indulgence... a general lack of respect for anything sacred.
"Preaching to the choir," you say.
How about developing teen centers and cafes that become jewels of activity, i.e. physical, social, spiritual, artistic and real. How about establishing neighborhood forums for youth at which they engage in dialogue about pressing issues, establish task forces and launch an expedition for change. How about corralling high school students to protest all and everything wrong with its government?
How about cultivating a soul in the American people?
I look into people's eyes to find soul... searching...
How about sacrificing?
How about taking part in a demonstration so sustained and massive that it causes the world's head to turn?
How about being radical?
How about removing your body piercing?
Erase the tattoo...
Garbage your "alternative" clothes and actually be radical.
How about starting with youth?
"Not realistic," you say.
Very realistic, I say.
It is time to initiate a nonviolent revolution among the age group that still has the idealism, optimism and the energy to "change the world." To change America is to change the world. First we meet to understand the actions and repurcussions of the military's actions while coming to terms that it is we who are dropping the bombs. The first step is to own the problem. Eventually we lead or facilitate weekly protests among high school students on school property where they refuse to attend class. By late October they threaten to sit out a week... they take responsibility... argue with parents... talk in the halls... to one another... they participate in society, learn "experientially"... cultivate concern...redefine "cool"... the "outcasts" are in ... leaders are born... mandates proclaimed... missions begun... peace is spreading... spirit enveloping.. souls are born!
I know you have bills to pay. I know you must eat. I know you can't possibly sustain a day-to-day effort. I know... but perhaps... just perhaps... together we can make the 2005-06 school year unforgettable, at least for students who can afford to miss a little school while still having their basic needs met.
Do Portlanders wish to stir the nation in dramatic and meaningful ways?
Or will they wake up each day to drive their cars that read "No blood for oil" and park in the same places in their quests to achieve nothing but "business as usual"?
"It's not that easy," you say.
Same goes for losing a child, a father, a neighbor, a mother to an American soldier.
Let me know where you stand.
Let the nation know.
Let the world feel you.