Today, let’s remember all who are fighting to make this country safe for everyone.
Today, let’s remember all who are fighting to make this country safe for everyone.
Some stories that caught our eye this week:
Social justice non-profits are feeling dread and despair about the next four years, so Nonprofit With Balls has written The Nonprofit Serenity Prayer to use when we need to calm ourselves down and carry on.
Here’s an amazing call for people with white privilege to embrace their fragility instead of becoming defensive in the face of critique: “I hear the argument that this kind of targeting doesn’t ‘make the tent larger’ because it alienates white women who would potentially be allies. I say that making the tent larger is more readily and fully achieved by making equal space for women of color and the issues that disproportionately affect them — not pandering to the white fragility of so-called ‘allies.’ ”
We are big fans of Roxane Gay, and we broke out in big smiles when we heard that she is pulling her next book from Simon & Schuster in response to their intention to publish white nationalist and hate-monger Milo Yiannopoulos.
This morning, I woke up thinking of lines from Marge Piercy’s poem, The Art of Blessing the Day.
This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let’s not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.
Last Friday, I drafted a blog post about how to support the water protectors at Standing Rock. I tried to keep up with the most urgent calls to action, as the situation on the ground shifted by the hour.
Thousands of people from around the world have gathered to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s peaceful opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The proposed route for the pipeline threatens the Tribe’s water and sacred land. Police action against the water protectors has recently erupted into violence. Hundreds of unarmed people have been injured by water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets and percussive grenades. The threat to the water protectors escalated as the Army Corps of Engineers set a December 5th deadline to leave the area, and the North Dakota governor ordered immediate evacuation.
So much is at stake. The waters of the Missouri River and the well-being of tens of thousands who depend on it. The right of sovereign tribal nations to protect its citizens. Native women and children who are the targets when oil industry “man camps” bring a massive influx of sexual violence. The fate of the planet, as oil consumption fuels environmental devastation.
Then Sunday night, a surprising victory. The Army Corps announced it would deny the pipeline project permission to tunnel under the river.
The celebration reminded me of another sweet moment, nearly four years ago, when Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. That victory came after a long standoff, 500 days of negotiation. It was a triumph of unprecedented solidarity among advocates, and the courageous leadership of Native women.
The victory was not complete, but it was real. After the win, it took another kind of grit to insist on celebrating it. The next threat loomed. The inevitable strategic failures immediately came into focus with 20/20 hindsight.
But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not hurt.
By yesterday morning, the oil companies made it clear they would continue construction of the pipeline despite the government’s decision. It is hard to imagine the little relief that has come from the Obama administration will last once Donald Trump is in the White House. For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the fight is not over. Meanwhile, the next battles are already happening.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.
Here is what you can do right now:
Celebrate. Get ready. Fight. Repeat.
It is 3:00pm on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. In a few minutes I will go home for a solitary (and introvert nerd) evening of channel surfing through the election returns. I must confess that I will be relieved when it is over, although we cannot be certain of when, exactly, it will be over.
For the past several weeks, I have been pondering and, sometimes haunted by, the words of the late great writer activist, Audre Lorde: “your silence will not protect you.” In the early days of our movement, this was a mantra among survivors―survivors of gender-based violence, racial injustice, and myriad forms of oppression and hate. The phrase continues to surface during times of struggle, protest, and bold creativity. And lately, I have been practically choking on them.
How could it be that I―as someone who craves a better path forward and wants desperately to practice the beloved community we whisper/speak/shout about―have been so silent about the vitriolic atmosphere that enveloped all of us during this election season? I have been anxious and agitated, painfully aware of my leadership of a 501(c)3 that is prohibited from endorsing (or rejecting) or seeming to endorse (or reject) candidates for elected office. There have been daily cautions about what we can and cannot say, and fear about appearing to be partisan. Through it all, I have felt that I compromised my own commitment to speak the truth, to confront misogyny and racism, and to stand with immigrants, people with disabilities, and communities of all faiths. My silence does not protect them. It does not protect you. And it does not protect me.
The presidential campaign brought me to the edge of tolerance. The spin, the analysis, the polling. The recordings, debates, interviews, videos. And all the while, Audre’s voice in my head: “your silence will not protect you.”
Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9, 2016, I will go to the office. I hope (read that as BIG HOPE) that we can put the election fatigue behind us. I hope we can celebrate a historic moment for what it is. Silent no more. Forward we go.
OMG―it’s Election Day y’all! Thank goodness! I know I’m not alone in being officially OVER it. Now it’s time to vote, panic, and act―whatever the outcome.
No matter what ends up happening today, we are all responsible for creating the world we want for each other. I want a world that is kind and just so tonight, like most other nights, I’ll be reading to my children. I’ll choose books that broaden their horizons, challenge them to think differently, and encourage them to be the bright shiny stars that they are.
I recently found this list: Books to read to your kids if you want them to be kind and brave (yes please!). And I was excited to see one of my family’s treasured stories included! I have read Miss Rumphius to my kids many times because I love its central charge: “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”
In this book, Alice grows up hearing stories from her beloved grandfather and longs to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and live up to her grandfather’s request to do something to make the world more beautiful. And she does. She travels the world (I love an independent woman!), lives in a house by the sea, and after much thought (and a little luck) finds her way to making the world more beautiful. She plants lupines all around her and makes her mark. Lupines are a beautiful metaphor for all of us trying to figure out how to make a lasting impression.
I find this book comforting and stirring. It allows for us to be who we are and also challenges us to do something for the greater good. It is a helpful reminder that each of us can resist. Each of us can stand up and do something; we just have to find out what our something is. For me, working to end violence and create justice makes the world more beautiful and I am doing my darndest to make it happen. For Miss Rumphius, it was planting lupines. I am curious to see what it will be for my children. What will it be for you?
So go home tonight and watch the returns. Then snuggle up with your favorite little person and read a book. Together we can read, resist, and love a little harder, no matter what tomorrow brings.
You know those days (or years — I’m looking at you, 2016) when you have a hard time being positive and remembering that there is good in the world? Well, I am having one of those days. I was supposed to be writing about October (right around the corner!) being Domestic Violence Action Month and instead I found myself reading article after article about how messed up the world is. I couldn’t stop!
But then I took a breath, called my beloved coworker for a reality check, and was reminded that all my ruminating and ranting and despair are not for nothing. Because it only takes a minute to understand that all of this violence is connected. And it takes just another minute to realize that all of our liberation is connected too. So when it feels like we can’t do anything to make a change, know that we actually can. And the opportunity is right around the corner. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Action Month (DVAM). And action is a good thing. Action will propel us forward. Action will make us feel better. Action is what it will take to end the violence.
So next month, let’s work for justice. Let’s take a stand when we can and kneel when we must. And let’s also take action to end domestic violence. Let’s work for relationships that are loving and safe. Let’s do it together.
Here are some ideas to get you started…
Get down to business
Whatever you do, know that you are making a difference. Together we can end domestic violence and create a better world!
I wrote last time about anxiety and I’m writing about it again. Because it’s just not going away.
This presidential race is deadly to my mental health. Let me be crystal clear so nobody gets in trouble, I don’t care which party you belong to, or which revolution you are firing up your torch for. This post is an equal opportunity slam on the whole shebang.
Anyone else out there losing sleep? The anxiety is spreading out like an oil slick. I am not kidding you, I was lying in bed at 3am last night boiling over with hate about the protesters outside of Planned Parenthood in Olympia and fantasizing about revenge. My friends, this is bad. Very bad. In point of fact, it’s very, very, very bad.
I always wish I was wiser. Like so many people around me, my response to watching people dig into extreme positions is to dig into my own. It’s like I’m standing in a graveyard digging deeper and deeper. And next to me is someone doing the same. Maybe they’re digging because they agree with me (which is reassuring―like maybe this is a winning strategy) or maybe they’re digging because they hold the opposite view.
Friends. It seems like, as reasoning animals, we could behave differently. I mean, we can stop.
For the love of god, could we just stop?
Imagine, I lean up against the side of my hole I’m chest high in, look at you. Wonder out loud, what the hell are we doing? You stop and wonder the same thing. We climb out and go for coffee.
The other day, a sliver of light cut through the haze. My friends at the local SURJ group were schooling us in the practice of calling in rather than calling out. On my good days, I think I’m kind of hard wired to ‘call in’―to be curious, kind and patient and find out what is motivating other folks to think and act the way they do―particularly those with whom I disagree. One of the worst things about the anxiety I feel so deeply these days is that it makes me impulsive. More likely to overreact and call people out rather than in.
So many people are doing positive and affirming things to counter the hate and fear. I just need to get out of the hole I’ve dug and hang out with them. Care to join me?
My less normal friends and I have been feeling this way for a looooong time.
It’s not surprising that we’re freaked out. The world is shouting at us.
Wrong. Doom. Racist. Threat. Get out. Women-hating. War. Guns, guns and more guns. This election year will undoubtedly kick all this up a notch, if there is even a notch left to be kicked.
There is a growing mountain of evidence that our brains are hardwired for negativity. Think about it. We were able to survive through multimillions of years by remembering which berries made us puke and which of the other animals are inclined to attack or eat us. Whereas, remembering whether blueberries taste better than raspberries was of very little survival value. Positive experiences just don’t have the impact or the staying power in our brains.
Learning this helped me overcome the natural inclination toward the negative. I learned that I had to work harder to help the positive messages and experiences stick.
I’ve been paying attention to my amped up anxiety of late. And watching to see if doing stuff actually makes me feel better.
Last week, I went to a meeting of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It’s ironic, but talking about guns made me feel better. Connecting with 25 like-minded women and men, walking away with two free gun locks to give away, and signing up for their lobby day felt good.
I’m donating $3/day to the gohomemalheur.org campaign. Where previously I was filled with rage at the overentitled white supremacist militant jerks holding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge hostage, once I donated and saw that I’m in the company of so many others (all giving to organizations that the militants would loathe, including the Paiute Tribe and the Southern Poverty Law Center) I’m fine with what’s going on. They can stay as long as they want.
And finally, deep breath. I walked around Capitol Lake. Silently, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. At the conclusion of the walk, our leader suggested something he calls one finger Zen. Holding up his index finger, he mimed pressing down as he urged us to tap the off button.
Indeed. Walk away from your screen. Get off your couch. Go see for yourself if working for social justice helps.
‘Tis the season. I close out my blog writing for 2015 with a string of holiday-themed confessions and advice. Please, grab an eggnog and pull up a chair.
Peace on Earth
Make peace with the earth.
I grew up outside. The outdoors is where I go when I need to experience renewal, re-creation. My first political activism involved working as a student intern in the 1970’s under the guidance of chain-smoking, tough-as-nails environmental bulldogs Flo Brodie and Jack Davis. Sadly, they are both long gone, but all of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to them for stopping an industrial logging export facility from being built right next to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.
Blessings to Flo and Jack and to those young and very much alive activists who point out that earth and climate justice are the same thing as racial and social justice.
Home for the Holidays
Re-friend your people on Facebook. Make peace with your uncles, cousins, and former classmates who have posted hateful things that resulted in you tossing them off your friend list.
My cousin Bill posts pictures of guns and voices wildly different perspectives from my own. I once came close to unfriending him—but I resisted because I love him so much. I’ve discovered that arguing back in a clear, kind way actually results in him moderating his position a bit. I should ask him if he ever stops himself from posting something because he thinks of me. Probably not. But I know I think about what he’s going to say when I post certain things—and part of me can hardly wait.
I know you don’t want to re-friend your “cousin Bill.” Do it anyway because if you don’t argue back then we will all end up living in thicker bubbles among the dwindling pool of people who agree with us on everything. This trend toward isolation and intolerance of any view different from our own cannot end well.
A small crowd gathered at the capitol the other day to express the opposite. They howled “Refugees are NOT welcome here.” I went to the counter-protest to see if I could persuade the people holding “Vets Before Refugees” signs to reconsider this us vs. them thing. I told them that I agreed that we have done a terrible job caring for returning vets. In the above photo captured by the Tacoma News Tribune, I was pointing to a vet’s Union Gospel Mission patch. He said he worked there. “Then you have experience working with folks who are caught in the crossfire of life circumstances. That’s gotta give you some sympathy for the Syrian war refugees, right?” We might have continued that conversation, but the rally organizer came over to hiss “Terrorists are embedded with those refugees.” She was not budging on that point. There was nothing more I could say.
The Syrian refugees are not terrorists. They need a home. I was taught that Mary and Joseph were refugees too. If we cannot learn some lessons from 2,015 years ago, what’s the point of celebrating the birth of that famous baby?
Joy to the World
Be happy for the liberation of yourself and others.
As difficult as these times are, I find joy in movements organizing for justice. Black Lives Matter to me as a white person because I want to live in a world where African Americans and have equal access to the same things that have brought me comfort, happiness, and peace. It is not asking too much because it can be done.
I recently joined Olympia SURJ and follow the leadership of Full Circle United as they direct me to take action. Find the group that is organizing in your town. Bring joy to your life and to the lives of everyone around you.
Rest and be well.
At times, I am shaken awake long past midnight by fear and worry. When that happens, I take a deep breath. And listen to the silence. Some nights I get up and creep outside to be in the stillness—the quiet darkness. We are all loved by the silent night. Be at peace. All is well.
The other day I got my hands on a long-awaited alphabet book for me my kids: Rad American Women. This book is cool on so many levels—the art, the content, and the lasting impact of reading it to my daughter…
A few days after the book arrived, I was sitting in a heap of unfolded laundry and turned to my favorite laundry helper (Netflix) to get me through. So I was watching the PBS special on Billie Jean King when my daughter came in and excitedly said, “Mama, she’s from the book!!!” It took me a second to realize what connection she was making but when I did, I invited her into the fold (see what I did there?) and we watched for a while. She was thrilled to know about her and be in on something special.
We talked about how bold Billie Jean King was and all the other women and men that helped her achieve such greatness. And we dreamed. We dreamed for a future where we have pay equity—not just at Wimbledon, but everywhere. We celebrated. We talked about how I once got to see A is for Angela Davis speak and how I hoped we would continue to go to protests and marches together and live our lives in a way that exemplifies the ideals of which she spoke. And we appreciated. We took time to be grateful for all that we have because of leaders who had the guts to work for equality. And then we got up and went outside to play ball. Because we could.
Here’s to the other rad women of the book and to the rest of us still out there working for justice!