From the Backstage: Power is Invisible

To use current lingo, Baton Rouge Community Radio 96.9 FM WHYR identifies as progressive. It is the broadcast voice, in fact, of the Baton Rouge Progressive Network (BRPN). But what exactly does “progressive” mean? A while back active volunteers and board members, guided brilliantly by Rebecca, BRPN’s board chair, developed a short document entitled “Core Values.” The whole thing is a work of art, but one of the most striking sections is “Thoughtfulness,” and it contains (among other things) the following bullets:

  • We are committed to objectivity, reason, and critical thinking. We seek to push past ideology, false dichotomies, and surface-level discourse to foster a shared understanding grounded in reality and multiple perspectives.
  • We strive to empathize with others, even those with whom we disagree, recognizing the extent to which we are all products of our environment.
  • We refrain from thinking our personal and cultural norms and beliefs are superior to others’ norms and beliefs. In critiquing others, we first turn that same critical lens on ourselves.
  • We acknowledge that just because we do not understand something does not mean it is wrong; it only means we do not understand it. We assume responsibility for educating ourselves about that of which we are ignorant.

That block of text is a thing of beauty…beauty and power. Not the visible letters, those are just black squiggly things. The beauty lies in the combinations of certain words, and the cadence of the language. The power lies in the invisible ideals the words and cadence express that resonate with the mental, emotional and spiritual energy of progressive readers. What this text demonstrates so well is that REAL POWER IS INVISIBLE.

Think about it: That which we call a “road” is really just petroleum and gravel poured onto dirt. One could just as easily take a nap or build a clubhouse on it as drive on it. And the yellow and white streaks of paint on it…please! They couldn’t stop a two-year-old! Yet people use “roads” routinely to move two -ton machines at breakneck speeds in opposite directions without incident.

What’s more, these people get those two-ton machines by giving somebody in a tie a piece of plastic to play with for a few minutes. They get life sustaining food or 32” plasma TVs by handing out small pieces of pretty cotton paper. This is crazy! Further down the rabbit hole, something called “bitcoins” twinkle alluringly.

What makes all of this possible isn’t the visible asphalt or plastic or currency or…computer screen pictures. What makes this possible is the invisible power of trusting agreement that drivers, shoppers, merchants, and nerds enter into without thought on a daily basis. Real power is invisible.

Just in case this horse isn’t completely dead*, here’s one more. A military tank is very visible and very powerful, right? Nope, not on its own. Okay, so the tank is just an inert mass of death-dealing munitions and such. What about the operators? They are visible and have the power to…Nope. It isn’t the operators per se, it’s the invisible motivations of the operators that make possible the rearrangement of real estate a tank is capable of. Real power is invisible.

So what does all of this have to do with WHYR and its listeners? Progressives in Baton Rouge may often feel invisible and powerless. They shouldn’t, because they aren’t. First of all, BRPN’s website lists 74 local progressive organizations, not counting labor unions. Not people, organizations! Second, BRPN runs a progressive radio station not beholden to anyone, that can broadcast music, news and programming no commercial station (shackled by the bottom line as they are) dares to. But most importantly, progressives understand intuitively that real power comes not from flash and bling, not from loudness or rudeness, and certainly not from large numbers of non-thinkers mindlessly parroting absurd social and economic talking points, but from things like realistically inclusive ideals, trusting agreements and cooperation, and focused psychological motivation. Perhaps a note about the tank is relevant here too. No matter how big and ugly a sign of power is, it is no more powerful than the invisible force that animates it. A bigger, uglier, power sign isn’t the best defense, knowledge of the invisible force is. One wonders what might happen if the tank operators’ loving grandmothers suddenly showed up in front of it holding apple pies. Now that’s real power.

Are Baton Rouge progressives invisible and powerless? HEL HECK NO! Not with a networking hub (BRPN), 74 organizations, our own radio station, and the knowledge of what really makes the world go round. Things be jammin’ for Baton Rouge progressives! So get out and get with it. Donate, volunteer, attend meetings and events, get involved. FEEL YOUR POWER!! MUAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAA!!!

*(No actual horses were harmed in the making of this blog.)

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