Revolution #268, May 13, 2012
Letter from a reader
Make BA’s “life work and mission
a stronger material force”
I was recently helping clean up at my grandparents’ place, an old 1st floor apartment in a poor neighborhood they’ve lived in longer than I been alive. At one point, “Mama” makes coffee, and while I break to drink it I lean against the window looking out at the world. I remember back to when I was a kid, used to have to stretch on my “tippy-toes” just to reach the window to be able to look out. There’s always been bars on the window. It made it harder to see everything, but it was the only slice of “the world” I could get.
So I was looking out the window to take in the life and flow of “the world.” Kids getting out of school, running around and playing, viejas and viejos catch up on the latest “news” (aka gossip) or play dominos. The police jump out to surround a young Latino guy, and let him go once they’re satisfied they’ve intimidated him. People who have nothing walk up and down the block asking anyone for a little help. Police drag a middle-aged Black man into the street to beat him for having a broken headlight. And the life and flow gets sucked back into the rock, as parents pull kids inside to be "safe," and no one feels like playing dominos anymore.
Growing up, I put together a lot of what I knew about the world between what I got out of that window, tv and going to catholic school and church. I came to look at the church stuff as a lot of crap, but I was way up into it for a while in big part because I wanted my life to be about something, to have a bigger point and purpose. Fast forward to my first years of high school, and I’m losing my religion, failing in school, I’m FUCKING HATING “the world” the more I learn about it, and feeling displaced in history, without purpose or anything for my life to be about, or at least nothing I wanted it to be about. I would hang out with “gangsta” types, who treated me like I was worth something and had a lot of self respect, but that involved a lot of messing over each other to get that respect and lording it over women. I would also hang out with the smart kids, intellectual types, where I could learn a lot but where you were supposed to be more concerned about self-advancement and trying to position for a career, which meant getting a place in this world (which I fucking hated), which ultimately involves on a world scale people messing over each other.
Enter BA. I wasn’t exactly political, but I was trying to figure out this world (which I fucking hated), how to understand things, and what to be about. I looked at some history and different thinkers, but it was by chance I encountered BA and it changed the game. Someone showed me a piece, which is quoted in BAsics 5:24, about how we must look at not just how we win “in the trenches” so to speak, but what it means to win in the largest sense, and not become the enemy in the process. There was immediate two things that hit me. One, I wasn’t just crazy for fucking hating the way the world was and I wasn’t “alone out there” in wanting it to change, bottom to top, all over the planet. Two, I felt challenged that it was not enough to just fucking hate this world (which I did), because that wouldn’t get past this world, and that what communist revolutionaries were about was taking responsibility for how we win in the largest sense, as BA put it.
I began asking my parents and others for money to get food, which I would save up by not eating. Then I’d lie about getting detention or something, so I could sneak off to Rev Books and get writings from BA, as well as others. I remember the very first thing I bought was “Conquer the World?” by Avakian, for no other reason than the title. I remember reading “Observations” from BA and being challenged by a lot of it, especially one point which is quoted in BAsics 6:5 about how “if you don’t have a poetic spirit—or at least a poetic side—it is very dangerous for you to lead a Marxist movement or be the leader of a socialist state.” This forced me to relook at a lot of things I had just dismissed like art, culture, poetry, music, etc.
I can’t get into everything I’ve learned from studying Avakian and also in taking up the life’s work and mission he represents, of “winning in the largest sense.” But I want to stress a couple things. Because I was able to get into and connect up with BA, I’ve been able to remove the bars on the window I use to look out at the world (to try to use that “poetic side” BA talks about). I got connected up with BA at a time when I didn’t know if my life could be about anything that mattered. Then again, after I dropped out of high school, my life became just about getting by trying to survive, and I almost ended up just another slave who once dreamed of freedom. It was going back to this connection with BA that was vitally important in whether there was any real way for my life to be about not just anything, but about emancipating humanity, or “winning in the largest sense.”
It cannot be allowed to continue that this connection only happens by chance and accident. There is a movement for revolution being built, to win both “in the trenches” when it comes to that, and to “win in the largest sense,” and a big part of that work has to be making that connect[ion] with this leader possible for many more people. You; yes you, reading this; need to be part of making it possible for people, including people like me, to take BA to every corner of society, metaphorically ripping bars off windows and making his life work and mission a stronger material force, something else to be about in a world which offers so many no greater purpose than one way or another of messing over each other.
The Bob Avakian Institute is a nonprofit institute organized for educational purposes. Its mission is to preserve, project, and promote the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience. In furtherance of its mission, The Bob Avakian Institute financially supports projects aimed at Spreading BA Everywhere.
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