As we change
Yesterday felt like a punch to the gut. Such a clear sign that the American era that began in 1981 and intensified in 2001 was not much dulled by the hope of 2008 and has been fulfilled by the rot of 2016. We are in deep, deep trouble in the United States. Is this the nadir or are there deeper depthts to plumb before we start crawling back to truly representative government?
In the midst of this, my sister asks
Can you guys help me think about what action really matters these days? I used to protest passionately. The last time was for BLM and yet violence against black folks is still raging on. I protested in DC when Trump was elected and yet we got this Supreme Court. I’ve done voter registration and election protection work for ages, yet voting numbers are severely depressed. Is all this action just to make me feel better? Does any of it add up? How do we really do anything about what’s about to happen in Ohio? It’s been bad here and I worry it’s about to get worse. This from your formerly active and outgoing sister who is feeling like Covid shifted something inside me that I haven’t figured out how to live with.
I found a pencil the other day lying on the ground that said “be who you are” on it. I think this is especially hard when “who you are” changes over time. Can you give yourself the space to be who you are now? For me this is the first challenge, to allow myself to grow, to change, to act differently today than I did yesterday. Can I give myself the space to breath new life into my journey, to become?
The second is deciding what “who I am” demands of me. What do I do? What actions do I take in the world, small or large? There are a whole host of ways to take action, some of which are large and public, some of which are small and private, all of which change the world in some way. Know that just by being in the world you change it. What, exactly, you do with that being is your choice, noone else’s. Do not underestimate the power of small moves, of intention, of attention.
Finally, I try to judge myself and others generously for what they do. Are they at home instead of on the street? The challenges and actions of their home life may make being at home or at work exactly where they need to be. Are they on the street protesting in a way that feels pointless or even destructive to me? Who am I to judge the depth of their fear, anger, or the potential of their raised voice? And what choice have I made today? Can I find the nub of hope in my choices or forgive myself the moment of despair?
I feel you, sister. And I love you deeply wherever you land, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
That said, here are some other links for today. My niece, Lane, wants to share this call to help ship abortion pills around the country. Mary has been sharing this article on activism in the NYT. And I found Gruber’s focus on the dissent in yesterday’s ruling a worthwhile reminder.