The Doctor Is In

in Poetry

Dr. Wes

My Seven Year Anniversary


Last year we here at Real Change celebrated our seventh year of putting out this rag. We did this for two reasons. One, any excuse for a party. Two, "seven" has Biblical significance. You've got seven days of creation, seven years of feast, seven years of famine, seven seals of the Book of Judgment, stuff like that. We wanted to plug in to that kind of action, 'cause the Bible is happ'nin.

Of course the feast/famine scenario did concern me at the time. I wondered what the next seven years could bring, given that the first seven went reasonably well. I thought, uh-oh, the second seven just likely may be reasonably rotten.

I have been doing this for seven years, and the thought of that puts me in the mind to run away to Bora Bora.
So far my fear has been realized. Seven years of Real Change was followed within the month by 9/11/01 and the ensuing economic downturn and social paranoia.

You'd think that as more people face poverty there would be more appreciation for those who have already been poor, but it doesn't work like that. You'd think that when someone earning, say, fifty thousand a year, has had to take a five thousand dollar annual pay cut, the hardship might help her/him identify with the guy who gets next to nothing on GAU, but NO. Instead, he/she blames the guy on GAU for the missing five thousand.

Many times this past year, lying awake at night, spinning the wheels in my brain, I have wondered what would have happened if all the victims on 9/11 had been homeless. Suppose, instead of flying planes into those towers, the same terrorists had managed to simultaneously bomb and obliterate twenty or thirty fully occupied homeless shelters all across the US. I hate to say it, but I don't think we would be in a recession now. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think we would be talking now about eliminating Saddam Hussein. I don't even think we would have attacked the Taliban or pursued Osama to the edge of the world. I think the general American public would have shrugged the whole thing off the way they shrug off famine in Somalia.

The good news: war with Iraq will probably only last a few weeks. The bad news: nothing good will be accomplished by it. Oh, some weapons of mass destruction might get destroyed, but only by means of mass destruction. An evil dictator will lose power, but the resulting turmoil will grow new evil dictators. The American economy will not benefit from the brief war; it will only serve to raise expectations in time for the November elections. In fact, if the war doesn't happen by November, it will probably be postponed altogether until 2004.

Don't get me wrong. Real Change itself is doing OK in its second seven years. But our environment has taken a noticeable turn for the worse. I wouldn't call it famine yet, but I wouldn't exactly call it feast either. Knock on wood.

So you all should understand why I haven't been too terribly eager to admit that this column just passed its own seven-year mark in August. "Anniversary? What anniversary? Look! Isn't that Osama bin Laden over there in the rugby shirt and jeans? (Columnist runs and hides.)"

Yes. I have been doing this for seven years, and the thought of that puts me in the mind to run away to Bora Bora. What could the next seven years be like? Will I again succumb to duck-licking? Will my muse, Cindy Holly, stick with me? Will I ever write in iambic tetrameter again?

Looking back at the last seven years is hard for me, because there are so few successes. OK, so we didn't end homelessness. I don't know how, but we screwed that one up. We also didn't end poverty. I kick myself every day for that.

On the other hand, we have had our victories. Or we can pretend that we have. For instance, this is the second column in a row in which we have used the word "happ'nin". But we are most proud of convincing the Seattle Times that "Dilly Dally Alley" was an icky name for their comics page (see "induced retching", this column, May 16, '02.)

In seven years, the Times comics page. In fourteen years, who knows? Maybe something pretty good.

© Dr. Wes Browning:
2129 Second Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 441-3247

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