Play II

April 29, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Neoteny, Play

Paradoxically, perhaps the most serious thing we do is play.  The Left is filled with activists that aren’t that serious.

A hallmark of the American Left is inflated self importance.  I observe a near compulsion to express no joy while embracing outrage.  Frequent faction fights are encouraged by a Left/Progressive culture frightened of flexibility.

Anathema to creativity is an atmosphere of gloom and anger.  Yet, there have been some playful pioneers.  Billionaires for Bush performs satire.  Codepink has offered an antidote: the warrior woman with a big, light heart.  Still, there are not near enough jesters on the Left.  Codepink and the work of Medea Benjamin have been integral to a Left identity by offering buoyancy, audaciousness and spunk.

Choosing to exhibit playfulness is to perhaps choose that which is most unique about being a human being.  It is characteristic of those features we identify with our uniqueness:  language use, tool fabrication, idea manipulation, art and science.  Only when we are deeply into playful, accessing our creativity, does our humanity robustly emerge.  Neoteny is central to being human.

One Codepinker, Marcia, ran a toy store for 22 years.  This unique establishment inspired the Dustin Hoffman film “Mr McGorium’s Fantastic Emporium,” where the film’s author worked.  Saturday’s Child was legendary.  With dozens of Chicago toy stores to choose from, every Christmas the Chicago TV stations visited to interview Marcia and to film kids playing.  Marcia was a professional specializing in play.  A professional specializing in play she still is today.

As a full-time activist, Marcia brings her professionalism to the business of social and political change.  She plays with everybody.  She’s done sound and media for Voice of Creative Nonviolence.  For the North Shore Coalition of Peace and Justice, she cooks supper every two weeks while also offering her skills as facilitator and leader to create great events.  For the North Suburban Peace Initiative, she directed the annual dinner of several hundred people, manages the website, drafts all communications and brings in speakers from across the country.  She works with UFPJ on regional events, setting up sound for the bi-annual conference and helping organize mass actions.  Marcia has organized and sponsored Moveon events of several hundred people.  She manages websites for an anti-Blackwater group, a Department of Peace chapter, networks, coalitions, etc.  She prepares handouts, mailers, postcards and posters for countless organizations.  Marcia prepared all the legal documents and modified the text for the Peace, Justice and Environment Project going 501c3.  She helped write the structure for the Illinois Coalition for Peace and Justice, handles their media and co-chairs the communications/technology committee.  She fed 100 veterans for peace, cooking for days for their big event.

Marcia is my wife.

Marcia plays with peace by working with everyone.  She is a one-person boundary buster.  Where she speaks, there is often laughter.  Where she facilitates, the Left’s signature seriousness loosens up.

Being the change she wants to see, Marcia shows by example how to engage in change.  Marcia seeks Left/Progressive unity by working for the many groups she seeks to see unified.  Her years of selling toys to children was perfect preparation for teaching activists to play.  Marcia is a serious activist.  She never stops playing.


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