The Wheel is Already Round

By W. Speare 

It was about ten p.m. now and I was upset that I didn’t feel anything from the drinks I’d just shared. Not because I was looking to get drunk, but because I was annoyed and knew that being a little drunk would be helpful. 

Sitting at a patio table on a lovely summer night with a woman who has spent her whole life defending abortion rights with two young white guys to the left of me arguing about the differences between Direct Action and Civil Disobedience. The host of the evening is speaking about his time out of the country and I’m just wishing that I had a stronger drink. 

“But if we shut down a major intersection until they reinstate Roe V. Wade, that is clearly Civil Disobedience!” the kid with the hole in his jeans says. Hair is unkempt but he has no sign of stubble on his face. Might just be because he’s young or he shaved that afternoon. I’m not sure. 

“Dude – if we’re making a direct demand from an action, that’s Direct Action. It’s as simple as that,” the other man in the conversation retorts. He’s a little older but still young. Just got out of college and he seems to have a kind of wrestler energy about him. He knows things are wrong and can clearly see that something needs done, but there isn’t really a focus point to his anger. Just anger. And that worries me. 

“What do you think? You’ve been doing this for a while, right?” the younger guy asks me. Following up on my earlier story of how I got started in the Occupy movement. Probably around the age he is now, if I think about it. 

“I think that at this table we have a woman that works with abortion rights advocates and she is telling us over and over that the support she needs is at the clinics directly, and you two are talking about yelling at a building downtown.” Maybe it’s for the best that I’m not sipping anything stronger… 

“That reminds me!” our host says as he jumps out of his chair and leaves for inside the house. 

Matilda, we’ll call her, looks over at me and says, “Thank you! I’ve been telling people this for weeks now. Everyone wants to set up an underground railroad full of men or go start a war and what we need, what the people who are getting abortions need, are protection and money!” 

The younger guy has gone into jotting something down in a notepad and the other man is walking back and forth in a space of five feet. “Yeah, I wish I could do more. It just conflicts with other stuff I do and I’m too involved to cut out.” I do mean it and it is true, but it feels like an excuse. It feels like I’m just finding a reason to not do something. Maybe it’s guilt about not being affected by this or maybe I feel bad for shutting down the younger guys. Either way, the truth feels like a lie. 

“Here! This is for you!” Our host presents a well-read book to Matilda and she thanks him and she starts to thumb through it. “I was telling you about that poem about childbirth – it is in there and you’re welcome to keep it.” He sits back down and lights a cigarette. 

“Thank you! I love this sort of stuff. I love when someone gives someone a book they’ve read. It’s so… nice.” She took a moment and she is now fully invested in looking the book over and evaluating it. Taking in the parts of it that look more worn than others. Feeling the emotion of the book and everything about how she’s holding this and experiencing herself just says that this is nice. 

When there is a clear and obvious wrong, it is in our nature to help. To fix it. To do something.

But in the pursuit of trying to solve the problem, we look past the immediate effects that are happening at home. Problems that we can help with and solve.  During this, we put those affected by the injustices at higher risk and don’t help solve the problem. 

This statement is true about everyone – but specifically those of us who are white and often male. 

Solve the problem that’s already being worked on. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.