My oldest son has always listened to a message I can't hear. Once when he was two, he seemed to be in very deep contemplation, and I said, "What are you thinking about?"
He turned to me and said, a smile on his face, "Something nice."
And then he went back to thinking.
Through pushing and pulling, he managed to graduate from high school, and then he found himself at a progressive, liberal, experimental college in the Northwest. He's a writer, and he wrote a lot and read a lot, and seemed to always be thinking. His nice thoughts, though, turned to intense thoughts. He had a political agenda that went beyond that of my own, beyond his father's. He began to actually work toward change, doing so in a way that I just couldn't agree with. All the while, he was writing, working on novels, stories of people who demand change.
And then there were the protests. This summer, he went to the G8 meeting in Germany. I was traveling for work at the time he was out of the country, so I carried with me my passport, certain I would have to make a spontaneous flight to Hamburg or Rostock to bail him out or try to bail him out. I created suspenseful imaginary scenes at American embassies, the weeping (or angry or irritated) mother rushing into the building waving cash.
But he came home after three weeks, talking about how different the political scene is in Europe, how people aren't afraid to protest. He talked about how change can come. How people could change. He talked about how change will not come without a huge price to us all. He said that if we don't change, we will crumble. He suggested that it might already be too late.
My son doesn't work in the world the way I hoped he would. He doesn't have a job that he goes to, something he enjoys and pays the bills. He doesn't live in the kind of place I wished he would--no, those anarchist communal homes aren't for me. He doesn't believe what I believe. And now I'm glad of that.
There has to be a group of people in each society that doesn't agree, that protests, that fights back. There have to be those who put themselves on the line for change. He decries the huge governmental hand of Homeland security. He fights against the stringent immigration policies. I was too young to really pay attention to the politics of the late sixties, but he reminds me of the fervor I read about at that time. He reminds me of the passion of people like Mario Savio. He reminds me of all the people who have stood up (despite most of us yelling at them to sit down) and said, "This must stop."
It's hard to be the mother of an anarchist. People ask me how my son is doing, and I say fine. They say what is he doing, and I used to say, "Oh, he's taking some time off." I suppose I was embarrassed. I suppose I was worried about him, imagining he was going off the deep end. My son wasn't like many of my friends' children, who have gone off on internships or found high paying jobs or traveled to Costa Rica and learned Spanish. He's not published yet--he's not really even interested in the New York publishing industry, finding it to be a compromise, a sell out.
But he was doing something important, so I started to say, "He's an anarchist."
Blink, blink, blink.
And then I wouldn't know what else to say. But after he returned from Germany, I realized that he was fighting so much that did effect me, trying to make our lives our own.
So now when people ask, "How is your son? What is he doing?"
I say, "He's working for you. For me. He's working for change."
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org