by Gabe Gonzalez | July 22, 2011 6:27 am

This week my daughters all lined up to see the last Harry Potter movie. I won’t lie, I wanted to see it too, but I was working. They love the Harry Potter books, who wouldn’t? Good versus evil. Those who strive for freedom versus those who want to control the world.

What they love the most is the magic. They love the thought that you could live in a world where with a swish and a flick of a wand, you could make things happen. Tents that hold living rooms of furniture, owls that deliver letters. Magic is great. It means you can create whatever you imagine.

But, as I said, I couldn’t see the movie, I was working, but that’s OK, I saw plenty of magic last weekend too. I saw people who had no reason to hope, hoping. I saw people who had been written off, writing down their ideas. I saw those who believe in freedom, lining up to fight against those who want to do the controlling.

Last weekend, I, and thousands of others, participated in house meetings all around the country. The house meetings were part of the Rebuild the American Dream Movement, which my organization, the Campaign for Community Change, helped sponsor through our Change Nation movement,  We gathered in living rooms and schools, church basements and union halls. Our agenda was simple, we talked about the country, about our messed up economy, and we talked about what to do about it.

We were not experts, we were not all doctors or lawyers or politicians, though there were some of those. What we were in that moment, for those two hours, were neighbors, citizens, Americans.

We talked about what is ailing the country (it was the economy). We talked about how this happened (it was greed, pure and simple) and we talked about what to do about it (put us all back to work).

The reasons for our plight is not rocket science, we all knew that. And frankly, the remedies are  not outrageous, putting people back to work seems pretty obvious.

The magic wasn’t in those things. The magic was in the stories.

When we opened the meeting, we asked everyone to share a story. To tell the truth about what happened to them, or to someone they love. We asked them to share their pain, their fears, and even, their hopes. We asked them to tell the truth to themselves and their neighbors.

And magically, they did. There were ex-felons who spoke of their desire to give back to society, hampered by the unwillingness of employers to give them a chance. There were students, still in college, who spoke of mounting debt, and the thought of quitting school, joining the military  in a time of war, because they saw no other option. There were senior citizens, whose only thoughts were of their children and grandchildren, and how jobs might be created for them.

It was magic. Hair-raising, soul-grabbing, motivating magic. What is so magic about this you might ask? Well, think about this: you are someone who is really hurting– credit card bills, a mortgage to pay, it all sucks. Now imagine you are in a room, half the people there are strangers, bad enough, but the other half are people you know, and whom you have never told this story to. You feel like Harry Potter, alone against the biggest, baddest evil in the world. And then suddenly, you take the risk, you tell your story, and others open up. You realize, that you are not alone, that others are in the same place. That they stand with you, same fears, same hopes. Just like Harry who finds a whole army to support him, you realize there is an army to support you as well.  And then that evil doesn’t loom so big or bad.


And yes, after the magic of those stories, decisions were reached. We talked about how to create jobs, how to pay for that job creation, and who could make it happen. And we made plans, and we made promises. And like generations of Americans before us, we knew that to make real the magic we had created would take hard work. But we left fulfilled, and ready.

And so I don’t feel bad that I missed the Harry Potter movie. I saw plenty of magic. And if you didn’t make one the house meetings, that’s OK, there is still time.  There is much to do, so much evil to fight. And a lot more magic to be created.


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