Over the course of the next week, I will embark on a trip across the nation sponsored by One Nation Working Together California, a group of civic and concerned partner groups, including the SEIU ULTCW (United Long Term Care Workers), Courage Campaign, LA Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness and the NAACP, among others. Along with a select group of other bloggers, my goal -- aside from trying to get away from an atrocious gloomy, so-called summer in Los Angeles -- is to have real and hopefully revealing conversations with folks all across the country.
Real Conversations with Real Americans
Working in film, I've always found some of the most interesting conversations about movies are those with individuals far removed from Los Angeles and the film industry. The conversations just feel so much more visceral (If you don't believe me, try talking to a real Texan about There Will Be Blood). I imagine the same applies to talking politics with people who aren't enmeshed in Washington, or economics with people who don't work on Wall Street. The most human conversations tend to be the simplest and the most telling -- and those are the conversations for which I will be looking.
It's the immigrant in Arizona struggling to make a living and send money back home, or the Mom and Pop store owners who are being forced to close shop after generations of "success" that let them simply survive. Recent college graduates are walking into a job market that is widely regarded as the worst in decades. Perhaps it is the Muslim teenager struggling with his religious and social identity in light of the racism that seems both pervasive and unavoidable in many parts of the country. Having grown up in a small town myself, with immigrant parents who owned a small business, stories of struggle through hard times resonate at a personal level for me. I've seen so many facets of such struggles firsthand.
Let's not tempt fate by saying that things could be worse. Let's instead accept that, as of now, the state of the country is pretty appalling. We have the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We have a seemingly unending war in Afghanistan. We have incomprehensible corruption on Wall Street. Meanwhile, the tireless economies of China and India are burning the midnight oil, while the U.S. struggles to stay relevant on the world economic stage. Need I go on?
"If you are going through hell, keep going."
As the great leader Winston Churchill once said, "If you are going through hell, keep going." Every person, every nation, every great empire, has struggled with issues of epic proportions. This may be a difficult time for our great country, but to allow it to tear us down makes about as much sense as an Eskimo in the Gobi dessert. Success comes from learning from these struggles and learning what is necessary for progression, even when it involves difficult decisions.
I hope the current administration will be judged by history as one of the few that achieved great success in the face of impossible turmoil. But in the meantime, there are people in our country who are simply struggling to survive. I hope to learn more of these people, their goals, their hopes, and hear what they think needs to be done to get this country through these trying times. As I do so, I hope you will take the time to read along and learn as I do. I hope that through this blog, I can help reveal the common ground we all stand on -- a shaky and unbalanced place that requires us to come together for there to be any chance of finding even footing, for all of us to move forward and battle through this hell, as individuals and as a nation.
On Saturday, September 25th, six Californian activists will embark on a journey across the country in an RV as part of the One Nation Working Together "BlogMobile". The bus will leave from Los Angeles in route to Washington, D.C. to participate in the national One Nation Working Together march that will take place at the Lincoln Memorial on October 2. These "citizen journalists," who represent a cross-section of the America, will stop in various cities across the country to report upon issues of concern to everyday Americans, including immigration, education, jobs and poverty and other issues that will be of focus at the march in Washington.
On the same day as the BlogMobile arrives in Washington, D.C. for the national march on October 2, Los Angeles will serve as host to the west coast One Nation event, which will be the second largest event outside of Washington, D.C. Thousands of Californians will gather at Los Angeles City College for a Day of Action, which will include live performances, a public interactive display created by renowned artist Derek Gores symbolizing our unity, the personal stories of struggle shared by participants, and a massive voter outreach created to re-energize and engage 500,000 Californians before the November election.