My son in the dark
with a Nerf gun rebuilt
using power drill
and silver paint
darts between houses
and flattens into shadow
while I walk the dog
twenty paces behind
and then alarm
as he springs
from between parked cars
and levels his sights
all of us will make it
Image: Henri Cartier-Bresson (1935)
First I picked up the books. Then the books carried me. The past several months have tried to push my head under. I could barely trust my own breath. So I read. Some came recommended. Mostly I stumbled and grabbed. Books by authors of color, books about the dangerous future. If the book didn’t buoy me, it went back in the library bag and the next one had its shot.
Dozens of authors worked their magic craft, quieting the inner cacophony. They nudged me across the churning waters into places where everyone speaks in a voice other than my own.
Continue reading “Raft of Books”
He will do much more damage before he departs the scene, to become a subject of horrified wonder in our grandchildren’s history books. To repair the damage he will have done Americans must give particular care to how they educate their children, not only in love of country but in fair-mindedness; not only in democratic processes but democratic values. Americans, in their own communities, can find common ground with those whom they have been accustomed to think of as political opponents. They can attempt to renew a political culture damaged by their decayed systems of civic education, and by the cynicism of their popular culture.
– Eliot Cohen in The Atlantic, January 29, 2017
Several weeks back, I put out a call to resist. It’s becoming clearer that our current charge qualifies less less as resistance and more as straightforward civic engagement. The parade of atrocities now pounding from the national stage and into our neighborhoods took shape during our many years of ignoring the duties of democratic participation.
Yes, we call our senators and representatives now every day. Indeed, for every call we make, another citizen rings up Congress and tells the senator to stop obstructing Trump’s march towards a great America. We must call and call again. But calling fails to rise to the standard of resistance. Calling to ask a representative to speak up for human rights qualifies as an act of basic civic responsibility.
Continue reading “Action 5: Cultivate Community”
He asks. I fumble. Events crash past, plowing under a vocabulary both dated and outgunned. My words like vestigial limbs grasp at an extinct terrain.
As we drive the short distance home, NPR wallops us with our nightly load of federal ordure. The new Congress just voted to pave the way for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Our representatives exhumed an old law which will allow them to slash the pay of any federal worker down to $1. In a stage play of quasi-constitutionalism, those who ask the toughest questions wield no power. The men in charge anoint a public opponent of civil rights as the nation’s Attorney General and an oil tycoon as Secretary of State.
Continue reading “Inauguration Eve: Make Like a Tree and (Be)lieve”
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”
Here is a small selection of things that don’t work:
- Wearing black
- Posting “Joe Biden: White House Troublemaker” memes (although a giggle is good medicine)
- Wearing a safety pin
- Returning to safe, familiar, more-or-less neutral patterns of work and social life
- Conflating the expression of feelings with action
- Rehashing outrage and fear in casual conversations with friends and family who agree with us
- Repeatedly checking social media to watch horrors as they unfold
- Waiting to see what else he does before doing anything ourselves
Here is what does work:
- Asking the next question: What action will we take today — this very day — in the service of justice and our common future on this planet?
Continue reading “Act Now”