About a year ago a friend sent me a link to Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings Newsletter. It comes out once a week and is chock full of really and truly interesting thoughts, links, musings about – well – everything. Art, science, philosophy, literature, history, poetry – you’ll find it all and could spend hours or days lost in the world views and collages of thought she has created. The other day – clicking from one interesting piece to another I came upon an older posting about a book by Rebecca Solnit (author of Men Explain Things to Me.) This book, Hope in the Dark is a series of essays first written in 2003 just after the start of the Iraq war and updated in 2016. In that time Solnit’s words have only grown more potent.
“This is an extraordinary time full of vital, transformative movements that could not be foreseen. It’s also a nightmarish time. Full engagement requires the ability to perceive both.”
After the events of this past week both in Syria and at home with the Supreme Court nomination, I’ve been reminding myself again and again that activism is a life long choice – a decision to be informed and engaged as we create a world that supports a commonwealth. The highs of a particular “win” when quickly countered by an equally important “loss” can lead to despair. But it’s the bigger picture, the longer story and our ability to embrace the unknown, that will be the ultimate measure of a life well-lived and a world re-imagined. Here again, Solnit’s words ring true.
“Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
So, stay the course – show up, make phone calls, write postcards, march if you can, find other ways to support marchers if you can’t and remember that your voice matters. You matter. You matter not only to those who know and love you but to the voiceless and the nameless who are lifted up by your presence and your action in the world.
“We don’t know if it will come out right
We are afraid it won’t but we think it might
So we turn the page and do the best we can
But we don’t know how the story ends.”
Information, Ideas, Action
Have you heard about One Thing You Can Do? Daily call to action that will help you focus. Well organized, simple actions with links to solid, updated information. Highly recommended.
It is still not too late to help #FlipThe6th in Georgia! You can help Georgia send a Democrat to DC. Email TonyTheDemocrat@gmail.com if you have time to send some postcards this week in support of the April 18th special election. At this point almost 60,000 Democratic voters in District 6 have received heartfelt handwritten postcards reminding them to vote. Thanks for being part of that.
Congress is on recess from DC until April 24th. This would be a great time to let your elected officials know your thoughts on the recent attacks in Syria. Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has a simple guide for meeting face to face or reaching out to your representatives regarding use of diplomacy instead of violence. Indivisible also has resistance resources for Town Hall Meetings, followup on the “Nuclear Option” and Healthcare questions for recess.
This week’s Ready to Resist call with MoveOn was intense and inspiring with passionate remarks from Representatives Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee, Beau Willimon (creator of House of Cards,) Nelini Stamp and others. Listen to their thoughts on Resistance Recess, The Tax March and the conflict in Syria.
#WhatAreYouHiding and #TaxMarch post your reasons for seeing Trump’s tax returns on social media (video welcomed)
Marches – check websites for local marches if you aren’t going to DC.
Tax March – April 15th
March for Science – April 22
People’s Climate March – April 29
A Day Without Immigrants – May 1
I’m thinking about Passover and the millions of Jews around the world who are cleaning their homes, cooking special foods and preparing for a Seder to share with friends, family and neighbors. Remembering and retelling their story of resistance, liberation, faith, family, community and hope after years of bondage, it is a time of celebration and a reminder of an ancient journey from slavery to freedom. It is also a time to consider those in our human family who are still enslaved and resisting. No matter our spiritual path, our sexuality, gender identity, country of origin, race or circumstance – this is a story that continues to resonate.
There’s a point in the Passover Seder when the door is opened to welcome a stranger to eat and celebrate with those gathered “for once we were strangers in a strange land.” In the book New American Haggadah it’s beautifully expressed. “This story that we relive tonight is meant to grant us knowledge of “the soul of the stranger,” and there is nothing more universal than that soul and our knowledge of it, and it is only the tutored imagination that can lead us to it and to the compassion it yields.”
Whether you are celebrating Passover or not, I hope you find yourself among people you love, making time to share food and friendship. I hope you will remember those who came before and those for whom we are resisting now – refugees, Muslims, the trans community, the elderly, the poor. I hope there will always be room for a stranger at your door.
Take a little break. And then, let’s get back at it. There’s lots to do.
Here’s to you, here’s to us – all in it together.