This post is a bit of an ode to my friend, Sam Yang (he/him/Comrade): aka Liberation Martial Artist aka yangfluencer aka half of the Southpaw podcast duo aka someone I “met” online in the pandemic era who has been a great inspiration and support to me ever since (even if I cannot handle being in the Discord chat!). This past weekend Sam posted a video essay that really struck me titled, Have Gi, Will Travel, about his decision to leave a cushy job in the finance sector to travel the US as a wandering martial artist. Check out Part 1:
While the typical way that we conceive of politics in the US is linear, rigid, and predetermined, Yang calls us back to adventure and complexity: embracing impermanence instead of grasping for control, exercising compassion for all people instead of fostering empathy for the few people in our immediate circles, celebrating the spaciousness of boredom and spontaneity instead of set plans and goals that we didn’t even consciously make for ourselves. It’s a truly liberating vision of what it means to be human and to take care of ourselves and others. To watch the full supercut (it’s about an hour long), sign up to support Southpaw on Patreon or leave a tip via Ko-fi ($1 minimum). I loved this video essay so much that I made a donation on behalf of a couple friends. If you cannot afford to donate, send me a message and I’ll donate on your behalf and send you the link. That is how much this piece means to me <3.
The smart money hit the canvas. The long shot got the nod. The yokel had simply stepped inside of his opponent’s sense of time.
[Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man]
As I write this conclusion in the little bedroom of the Covid-safe friend pod, Trump and his followers are waging yet another war on reality, denying the legitimacy of Biden’s election victory. More than 100,000 cases of Covid-19 are reported every day in every part of the US. The 24 hour cable news cycle is reporting every absurd event, debating whether or theorizing how a Trump coup might unfold. The atmospheric dread is thick and orange, choking us with disbelief. The democratic experiment feels more like a failure than usual, especially as so many of us lacked faith in our institutions and that old promise of opportunity to begin with. Not many people believe that a Biden presidency is capable of bringing about the deep changes necessary to confront either the viral memetic infection of Trumpism or the contradictions of racial capitalism. Climate change looms heavy in our hearts too, even as we feel confident in Biden’s ability to bring actual science and scientists to the fore in our battle against Covid-19. Where do we go next? How do those of us that believe in truth, justice, and democracy orient ourselves in the proximate and distant unknowns? What are our weapons and tools of resistance? Who is our opponent?