We are the compulsives. The chameleons. The deluded. The wounded.
Addicts. Bigots. Enablers. Aggressors.
Gossips. Accommodaters. Over-sharers. Fixers.
We are the guarded. And the stuck.
We are passive. People-pleasers. Avoiders. Myopic.
We envy. We compete. We keep secrets. We give up.
Liars. Caretakers. Impulsives. Fanatics.
Re-enactors of traumatic events.
Prisoners of mindsets we refuse to reject.
Continue reading “CrazyTown and the Ambassadors of Acceptance”
Face down. Flung across the bed. He cries and cries, body shuddering with sobs. Something has happened outside.
I heard about it first from an upstairs neighbor who called me after witnessing the melee from her balcony. Then two little girls, teary and clutching each other, filled me in on oh-so-many details of Bug punching one of them. The bigger kids arrived in a pack to corroborate.
My boy, the one who hits.
My boy, the object of this witch hunt. Hiding somewhere. Shunned.
Continue reading “Right Side Up”
If I hold a room the way the sparkling statue lady does tonight, book-touring her paleo-pedicure-CrossFit happy meal of neoliberal feminism, how will I use my voice?
I too could propitiate the gods of privilege. I might tug loose one rough thread of the story and call it struggle. Might forget to notice who inhabits the room. And the design of it. How thick the walls. Who cannot breach them.
Will I preen?
Or will I speak truth to power?
Continue reading “Question in Action”
This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.
– Naomi Shihab Nye, “Gate A-4“
Someone vandalizes a church and a Jewish community center in Northern Virginia. They paint swastikas on buildings and dark words over a sign supporting Muslims. This happens on the first night of Passover, at the start of the Christian holy week. The story is here.
Then the police track down a suspect. Dylan Mahone is a 20-year-old man who has found his way into white supremacist and neo-Nazi circles. A student at the community college. A neighbor who lives just blocks from the house my former partner shares with his two kids. A young man whose Facebook page drips with racism and hate and noxious fantasies of violence.
White. Christian. Educated. Male.
One of ours. One of us.
Continue reading “This Can Happen Here”
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”
The women arrive carrying ceramic bowls of muffins and popcorn. They introduce themselves and shrug out of winter coats, peel the backs off name tags, jot words on green post-its and find seats around the room.
We set up the easel, the flip chart, the clipboards, the jar full of pens.
We share our names, our role models in the movement, the things that make us smile.
After skimming Parker Palmer’s Circle of Trust touchstones, we give a collective nod to a tenor of inquiry and welcome.
Then we begin.
Continue reading “The Women Have Arrived”
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”