The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.
– Yann Martel, Life of Pi
A handful of friends and neighbors gathered for a second time. We got together in my living room to share ideas and support each other in our efforts to become more politically active.
Our first meeting took place in early February. We kicked off with drive and energy and a fury of commitment. In the intervening six weeks, our national disaster escalated and many of us lost momentum. Speaking candidly with friends and peeking into my own heart, I notice that many are experiencing the outrage fatigue we predicted. The Republican administration continues to throw all its might into dismantling regulation, research, democratic checks, civil liberties, protection of the commons, and social safety nets. Those of us committed to these institutions as well as to the values that undergird them have lost our sense of direction. How do we respond when everything is a crisis?
First we admit the sense of loss.
Then we remember that these power mongers win if they paralyze us, so we must keep moving.
Continue reading “Action 7: Kitchen Conversation”
When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
– Audre Lorde
I buy the house for the future. Political variables do not enter into the equation. Of course the system will stay healthy enough to sustain my son and me. Housing markets rise and fall. Financial markets swing from bear to bull. Social security may last or disappear. Through all this, my house is insurance. The same is true of my education, my work experience, my retirement savings, my kid’s college fund. The road will have its bumps but we’ll be okay, more or less.
(But for how long?)
My decision fails take into consideration that truth is only assumption and that nothing is fixed.
Now a fear takes root, a fear bigger and more eclipsing than any I’ve ever experienced. Inside this fear swim all the possibilities of a much darker future. Inside this fear dawns a recognition of the fragility of my security.
Privilege, as it happens, will not protect me.
Continue reading “Ask Fear Out”
Abandon plans for a democratic agenda. Abandon hope for democracy at all. The leadership of this country has shed any pretense of discourse about how best to govern. Our leaders will seize, gut, silence, and reign. They will topple any established checks on their force, and they will dispense with explaining themselves. They will have no need to defend the twisted truths they spun as they advanced through a weakened democratic system into the control tower. Why explain? Why defend? They now execute reality.
Continue reading “Action 4: RESIST”
Remember when water bottles and travel mugs were weird anomalies? When you had to clip your cup to your rucksack with a carabiner and then ask for special permission to fill it from the soda fountain?
Now even briefcases come with mesh pockets for portable hydration. Monday through Friday in every office in America, a rainbow of screw-top coffee mugs and metal-glass-plastic reusable water bottles clutters every working surface.
Far better than cluttering landfills, yes?
So what’s stopping us from doing the same with our food containers?
Continue reading “Action 3: Out Your Lunch Box”
It’s old school. It’s unsexy.
It takes under five minutes.
And it’s effective.
Use this call sheet as a script to make a call to your representatives on issues of concern. Adapt it as you see fit.
Notice that the call sheet has tabs across the top. In addition to scripts, you’ll see lists of representatives and other tips. This sheet is merely a template created in the first week after the election. As events unfold, the language and issues will change.
I’m embarrassed to admit that for all decades of armchair commentary — indeed, I still consider myself “radical” despite my unexceptional suburban existence — I haven’t actually picked up the phone to talk to my senators or representatives in a lifetime and a half.
Yesterday, I made the calls. The action was straightforward and very simple. It took no more time a walk down the hall to fill up my water bottle, and arguably went much further to quench my thirst.
In the parking lot of the state college campus where Tee was staffing an exhibition table, Bug nursed. We sat in the back seat with the door open to a spring afternoon. Tee came around the corner to meet us, concern folding in a face usually at full sail. He moved to block us and pushed the door partway closed.
“What are you doing?” I asked. In my lap, Bug raised his eyebrows up and back to get in on the action. He didn’t lose his grip. Besides the perfunctory drape in an airplane or shopping mall, modesty had rarely factored into Bug’s mealtimes.
Tee shrugged and shuffled. “Everyone can see. We don’t know people here.”
Continue reading “No Fixed Address”