Notes from a Journal

by Andy Silver

Journal entries (July 2007 through September 2007)

July 25, 2007

If I lived in a great house overlooking a river on one side and the city dump on the other, the worn out carpet would indicate that I have spent as much time looking at the river as the dump. A month has passed since I filed for the mayoral race on the Democratic ticket, and a month minus two days since I withdrew after a more viable candidate emerged an hour before the filing deadline. My intention to withdraw was as well-known as my entry. I didn’t file to divide the Democratic Party in Charlotte, but there had been no challenger to the Republican incumbent, and I wasn’t about to let him have a free ride.

My world view is shifting: less time worshipping at the altar of the trash site, more time enjoying the view of the river.

When I attended the 25th reunion in San Francisco, I was quite moved at witnessing the City of San Francisco honor equally the deaths of George Moscone, Harvey Milk, and those who died in Jonestown.

I have had so much support from hundreds of people in my adopted hometown regarding my experience in PT during the seventies. What kinds of support have made the difference as I have released the trauma of the past? People who have empathized, people who have been in positions of power, people who I didn’t think liked me and who said the nicest things about me to other people. What has been the difference that has made the difference so that I could make a run for the mayor’s seat, knowing my past would become public?

For 26 years of living in the South, I have been convinced that if I poked my head out of my turtle’s shell, that something unpleasant would happen. The life of the survivor – waiting for the other shoe to drop – is often like one moment that doesn’t end too disastrously followed by another.

Sept. 15, 2007

The more “electable mayoral candidate” was revealed in the paper today to be quite un-electable. She has several lawsuits against her for unpaid property leasing fees. In the month since I resigned, several politically astute people have told me that I should run again next time.

Why really did I file for the mayor’s seat?

Was a 48 hour run all that I wanted?

Seriously speaking, what reasons would justify a legitimate campaign effort in two years?

Sept. 16, 2007, 3:15am

I have admired the mouse that raises its middle finger to the approaching lion. I like the part of me that lives fearless and can state to an unjust authority figure, “This behavior of yours is unacceptable. Your authority doesn’t scare me.”

Conversely, the authority part of me doesn’t want to hear, under certain circumstances, that I may be using my own authority arrogantly and unjustly.

I look at the clock. It is 9/16/07 and I realize it is 3:15am.

The taboos I associate with this precise moment. The warnings we all received.

The seven years I spent in the Temple and gave away pieces of myself because I chose to believe that someone could know the future. I thought I was buying a time share, a piece of the cave in Redwood Valley.

And for 29 years, I have been busy buying back those pieces of my self-respect.

I had a brief run for mayor on the Democratic ticket that was not planned or thought out at all. It was spontaneous. That was what made it such a healing experience.

In January 2007, I was selected as one of sixteen actors for a play sponsored by our Community Relations Commission. Social capital consultants had studied our city and reported that we ranked high in charitable giving but quite low in cross-cultural community contact (translation: the wealthy neighborhoods are afraid of poorer communities and avoid them).

These sixteen non-actors were selected because we each personified a different way that someone in our city is discriminated against. The focus of the play that we wrote and performed in May 2007 was to convey what it would be like to live in this city where people see eye-to-eye in spite of differences of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, professional occupation, religion, age, disabilities and veteran status. You can google this Crossroads Theatre Project.

A woman I knew slightly – whom I talked with for 15 minutes at a moveon.org concert in June 2007, when Al Gore addressed the worldwide gathering for the LiveAid concert on seven continents – observed that there was neither a Green nor a Democratic candidate willing to challenge our six-term Republican mayor. She suggested that I run. I was speechless but promised to think about it.

The following day, I called up the local Democratic Party leadership to introduce myself. I told them that I didn’t fit the normal profile for a candidate: that I was a non-attorney divorce mediator, a past life regression hypnotist, and a former member of an unusual social action group during the seventies. I spelled out the latter in great detail. This mayor pro tem listened carefully, promised to review my background with an attorney who served on the party strategy team, and called me back in a few hours to say that the California experience from almost thirty years ago would be of no interest to the general public.

To save the expense of a Democratic primary, I had promised the Democratic Party that, if a more viable candidate emerged at the last minute, I would quietly withdraw. On the final filing day, just forty-eight hours after I had filed, a six-term state senator announced her candidacy for mayor. As promised, I withdrew immediately. I felt sad about having to resign, although some part of me was relieved at the enormous responsibility I no longer had to assume. My platform would have been an environmental one. I would also have reached out to non-traditional voters to include them in the political process.

The media mentioned yesterday that this more viable candidate has a lot of undisclosed financial baggage. Her chances to win hadn’t been good, and they just got worse.

The end result is that my candidacy was a great personal experience, similar to the feeling some people have who complete an outward bound ropes course or fulfill some other promise to themselves, such as performing stand up comedy (moi).

In reflection, what has changed as a result of this political experience?

For the 26 years that I have lived here, I have felt self conscious about my past.

The crossroads theatre experience, where my cross-cultural sensitivity developed during my PT years, facilitated the entire cast to evolve into a wonderful sense of community, was a sweet experience, and allowed a lot of this stigma to dissolve.

The mayoral race piece was a way to emerge publicly, like a butterfly from the cocoon. I loved the public attention I have received. People still stop me to say thanks for the courage to step up to the plate and ask me to consider doing it again.

Erma Bombeck once wrote of her hope to use up all of her talents before she died. I have talents intuitively that I have squelched because I didn’t want to appear too unusual. I have started offering spiritual mediations to help resolve family disputes among emotionally distant and deceased relatives for walk-in customers in a new age book store. Previously, I would have been too image-conscious.

One of my favorite quotes from Goethe is that when we take one step toward the universe, the universe reaches out to us with synchronistic offers of help and support. I have attended dozens of auditions for TV commercials as a film extra, and now I am landing them. I think the difference is that I am allowing more of my heart to emerge.

(Andy Silver is a former member of Peoples Temple. His complete collection of writings for the jonestown report may be found here. He may be reached at andy@resolutionexperts.com.)

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on March 4th, 2014.
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