bunt sign

Sunday, February 25, 2001

I don't know why I make the effort to hit the post office and pick up the company mail on Saturdays. Anything that looks like work gets piled up on top of the scanner until Monday anyway. But I conscientiously drove through the usual weekend drizzle yesterday, fulfilling my obligation. One large manila envelope from the Boss is definitely going to sit for a couple of days. The rest, all bills, holds even less interest for me.

After yesterday's entry, I've been told I shouldn't apologize (to myself) for how I spend my time. I think that's pretty much the same conclusion I came to in the entry. But I do want to plan my time better, so that trivialities don't interfere with my inner need to look back on each day and feel comfortable with what I see.

Mom wanted to go to the store yesterday, which is fine by me. I'd rather have her pick out her own items than try to read and interpret her list. So I took her in the afternoon. I let her push the cart, to give her some stability. Otherwise, I think she'd go wobbling off in too many directions. Since she still can't see out of the eye that was operated on, it's hard for her to be aware of everything going on around her. The store was fairly crowded on a rainy Saturday, so it was good she was anchored to the cart.

bird on a branch

Last night at 9:00, I turned on HBO to watch Boycott, the new movie about the birth of the civil rights movement. Instead, they were still showing a boxing match. Apparently the network hadn't anticipated Roy Jones taking as many as ten rounds to finish off Derrick Harper.

I didn't watch it. I don't watch boxing any more. And I considered the irony of two black mean beating each other up preempting a film about Martin Luther King, Jr., the man who showed the world how much nonviolent protest could accomplish. I was looking for the quiet yet fiery dignity of Rosa Parks, and I found pointless brutality for the entertainment of a bloodthirsty mob.

It's not that I don't recognize the skill required of a boxer. In the past I've watched these fights with as much enthusiasm as anyone. But I think the pounding wore me down. And I saw one of my cultural heroes, Muhammad Ali, reduced to a quivering, silent shell of his proud, articulate younger self. That was too much for me.

So for twenty minutes or so I flipped through 200 channels. I saw a lot more gratuitous pandering than I did quality entertainment. Must be something about a Saturday night. It made me wonder who (besides me) stays home and watches this stuff, but then I remembered that most of it was originally made for people who go out on Saturday night. It's just that instead of being overwhelmed by the violence on the big screen, I get to live with it in the intimacy of my home.

Boycott was everything I hoped it would be. It's imaginatively directed by Clark Johnson, with documentary-style footage intercut with the sensitive portrayal of the heroes of the Montgomery movement. We can't be reminded too often of what it took to make a dent in segregation and oppression. We don't live in a perfect world, not by a long way, but we live in a better one because of these people.

The film doesn't idealize them. King is a reluctant spokesman for the boycott, at first. There's dissension and backbiting among the leaders. But all of those involved, from King down to the average citizens, let the greater good prevail over personal interests. They were fighting for their own rights, yes, but they were also fighting for better lives for their children.

The world owes these people more than it could ever repay, but at least a film like this will help us to remember. They were flawed, and the result of their efforts was imperfect, but they are the role models we need in an age of arrogant self-interest and drifting values.

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All searching for the promised land,
Tired souls with empty hands.