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Change in Metal

Today I read in the Chronicle that Berkeley put up a sculpture celebrating its protesting past.  Apparently, as we drive I80, we will be able to see the images of Berkeley's activist past in bronze.

One of the celebrated people on the sculpture is Mario Savio.  When Mario was doing his thing, I wasn't aware of it, being all of about three.  In fact, the first time I went on the Berkeley campus with my parents, I remember only Hare Krishnas dancing in a circle and the smell of incense, so I missed most of the 60's in general.

How I actually came to know about Mario's effect on the world was because his father is my ex husband's godfather.   My former spouse grew up next door to the Savios, and how he figured one of Joe's boys was doing something wild was the evidence left behind:   the ugly signs in the lawn, the objects thrown from cars toward the front door. 

Mario's father didn't talk about it much, preferring to make some amazing food and feed the neighborhood instead.  Now and again, Mario would show up with his children, and my former spouse would hang out with them all, knowing that Mario was someone important in some way, but mostly, he knew that Mario taught math.

What Mario engaged in during his youth didn't make his family happy, but things seem to have calmed down eventually, and he went about his life and had life issues and joys.  When he died at fifty-three from a heart attack, my former spouse mourned along with his godfather.  The world was mourning this amazing lightening rod of activism, but in Covina, they mourned for the loss of a son.

So there is the sculpture on I80.  A tree sitter.  Mario.  A disabled person trying to get up steps.  The people who went out of themselves to help others.  There is danger involved in protest, and there are results, or can be.  When I think of my son and his friends, I hope that what they are doing can help.  But rather than a sculpture of their acts being erected in 30 years, I'd like for change to move more quickly.  I wish for another way to make change happen.  I wish for my son to live in a way that is not dangerous.