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Hands and Hearts and Minds

11 months ago

1069 words

Photo: Two little boys with cute little bunny Lady. We learned a lot about bunnies today thanks to a kind friend who has an incredible talent for engaging and encouraging children. A little bit of comfort and distraction, a whole lot of warmth and care. To open your door in welcome and give a bit of yourself is a talent and a gift, and we need to put everything we have to full and good use for the greater good.

 

I want to take a moment to say thank you: thank you to the protesters who showed up in Charlottesville to stand up against the Nazis and white supremacist bastards. Thank you to the journalists and videographers and photographers who covered the story and didn’t look away. Thank you to the amatures who did the same, who Facebook Lived it, who live tweeted, who told the story on the ground as it happened. Thank you to the thinkers and the thought leaders who gave us the language needed to process our outrage and articulate it to the masses. Thank you to the cooks who fed, the doctors and nurses who mended. Thank you to the preachers who preached and prayed, the choirs who sang and comforted. Thank you to the professors handing down the readings, and to the teachers who are already preparing the lessons to the youngest among us so that they won’t make our mistakes. Thank you to the collective network of people on the ground and in the communities beyond who stood up to bear witness to the crisis, who were active participants and who forced all of the rest of us to do the same. Charlottesville is not the beginning, nor is it the end. It’s more than a conversation. It’s a demand for our full attention, our renewal of focus.

Of all of the tweets that I have seen over these last hours and days, the ones that have struck a chord with me the most are the ones along the lines of, “if you ever wondered what you would have done if you were living [pre-WWII or during the Civil Rights Movement], now’s your chance to figure it out” or a more damning version, “well, now you know.” As if to imply that you aren’t doing enough. That more heroic action is required. This isn’t a message for everyone. Only people who are only passively sharing messages on the internet without taking further action. Many are doing things, making changes, stepping up and raising their voices, realizing their privilege and exposing the oppressive behaviors of others… people out there are taking action.  If you are a person who is reading this post wondering if you’re doing enough… only you can truly know if you are. As you reflect, I want to remind you that heroes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and history remembers big actions and small ones, too. What you do, in this moment in time, may make the difference.

March if you are moved to march. Feed if you are moved to feed. Teach if you are moved to teach. Write if you are moved to write. Consider your talents and offer them up to the effort. Do something, even if you aren’t doing the most dramatic, overt, out-in-the-open thing. Remember that resistance requires logistics and support, people in the background doing the unsexy things like keeping things organized, keeping people fed and/or hydrated, housing people and getting people where they need to go. Do not believe that your quiet actions are passive and therefore unhelpful. Above all, don’t let your fear of reprisal or even your fear of inadequacy paralyze you into doing absolutely nothing. To do nothing at all, not a single thing, is the worst possible choice you can make.

Because I want to be clear: if you think our “institutions” are going to save us, I’ll remind you that our institutions are made up of the individuals that work within them. If you think our “checks and balances” are going to kick in and work things out, I’ll remind you that the checks and balances are enforced by the people we’ve elected into power, people who supposedly work on our behalf but will do as they please if we don’t lay on the pressure. If you think that racism or neo-naziism will “age out” of this country, dying with generations past, I’ll point you toward the many youthful faces in the photographs all over twitter. And if you think that this is a southern problem, a mid-western problem, or even a plain ol’ rural problem, I’ll remind you that ideology knows no such borders nor class boundaries. This is our fight, Dear Reader. There are no outs. There are no excuses. You must act. You must give.

So dig deep, Dear Reader. Who are you, right now, and what can you do to aid the resistance? This is about so much more than one man or one election or one moment in history. It’s about who we’ve always been, who we are now, and who we want and need to be in the future. What you choose to do, or not do, will be instrumental in that.

I’m not going to give you the answer. I don’t know your talents. I don’t know your circumstance. I only know that if you’re reading this, you care enough to act. Reflect on your tolerances and blind spots, consider what you simply can no longer abide by. If you haven’t found an institution to watch and pester, do so now. Be a good citizen who holds the individuals who make up our institutions accountable. Then choose something to champion–one organization that you will consistently give your time, talent and treasure to. Do and give and then do some more. Do and give and then do more, Dear Reader. With the fullness of your heart, your fury, your sadness, your fear… do something. Be something powerful by doing the things that must be done in support of our collective community.

Hands, hearts and minds of regular folk are always the key players in all of my favorite history lessons. We are given these things for a reason. What we do with them really matters. You are one small part of a moment in time. Don’t let it pass by without your giving something to it.

 

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