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Can I call you my friend? Maybe we don't know each other very well, but I still consider you a pretty cool person, and you've always been nice to me. You probably wish that I would leave you alone when we're on the bus together and you have to study, but the thing is, you always put up with our forty-five minute conversations on your way to your partner's house. Sometimes you even show me pictures from your many overseas trips, and this is something I really appreciate. I've had something I've wanted to tell you for a long while now, but you haven't been around, and there are certain things that are a lot harder for me to say than they are for me to write.

 

Back in high school, I was a proud radical. When other people my age would spend their weekends partying or lounging around at home with friends, I would make my way downtown to read radical political theory on the fourth floor of the main branch. I was always talking to the homeless people and the squatters, getting a feel of what it was like to be thrown away by the very system I had sworn to fight with all of my being. I would protest constantly- all I needed was a sheet of paper, an inkpen, or even a piece of mulch to scribble out my malcontent where others could see it. Sometimes, it was pretty silly, like telling people to "hug a tree", but whenever I would call people "comrade", I meant it in all earnestness. The people who knew me put up with it as just another of one of my eccentricities, and sometimes, they would make fun of me. One teacher in particular would say "cornbread" when I would call him "comrade", but I guess that was just our way of connecting. As time went on, however, I quit reading my radical books, I quit being engaged in any meaningful sense of activism, I didn't tell people to "hug a tree" or even call them comrade. 

 

More time passed, and I eventually came full circle. I joined a couple of groups around town- including one that both you and I are in. I hadn't actually meet you yet, but you were always agitating, always sending out emails. You are fond of addressing all of us as comrades in your emails, and this is something that means a lot  to me. When I mentioned this to a close friend of mine who is not as radical as we are, he said that there was something "quaint and forced" about still using that term after communism fell apart. I immediately defended you, and also made him think in the process. You see, I admire your dedication to that cause. So often, people think of others in our society as not being connected to them in any meaningful way. They don't understand what we understand, that is, that in order to build a real sense of community, all of us are "comrades", all bringing our particular views to the table so that all of us are affected. We don't really think of the people who disagree with us as belonging to the vast brother/sisterhood of our common struggle, but they too, have their place, and they too, are part of the interconnectedness that is part of human consciousness. In this sense, there is no better word to use for that than to call us all comrades, because we are, as people, all part of the same cause of liberty and the pursuit of our own destinies as anyone else in the group. To think that to greet someone in such a way is meaningless in modern terms is missing the point entirely. Not all of us are comfortable sharing these concepts, but you are, and I applaud you for that.

 

Have a nice day, wherever you are. I hope to see you again soon.

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Tags: anarchism, friendship

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