“But it’s no use now,” thought poor Alice, “to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!”
I was 14. He was 19. I didn’t know him before that weekend. The boys who took me to the party at his house went somewhere and left me with him. He had a reputation, I later learned, for getting girls drunk and raping them. He added pure grain alcohol, I later learned, to whatever he was serving me.
He told me he was someone else. He locked me in his room. He took off everything but my shirt. He raped me. It was my first sexual encounter. I didn’t report because I was scared my dad would be mad at me for drinking at a party. That’s the kind of worry a 14-year-old brain can understand. I couldn’t yet grasp the enduring shame of staying quiet when I could have helped stop him from hurting other girls.
This happened in Bethesda, Maryland in July, 1988. Everyone at the party knew what he did, including the boys who brought me and the one I had to beg to take me home. I wonder how they might they tell their #WhyIDidntReport stories about that night?
Continue reading “Hardly Enough of Me Left: #WhyIDidntReport”
While little has the power to shock these days, 45’s evisceration of climate change rules still horrifies. Here in America, it’s a matter when-not-if we’ll start donning face masks to walk the dog. Also, when-not-if we’ll look back with something like fondness for such a quaint inconvenience as a face mask. This week marks yet another threshold moment we’ll someday read in history books about humankind’s relationship with its home.
Sweet notion, isn’t it? That we’ll have books? That anyone’s left to write them?
I understand that we need to fight back. Win at least one chamber of Congress. Jail another white supremacist or two, block the next attempt to gut the ACA, block the cops in riot gear with our cameras and bodies.
What I don’t understand is why we still insist on paper plates.
Continue reading “How Carrying More Weighs Less”
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”
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”
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.