Photo: Ursa Major has a field trip to the Great Meadow Wildlife Refuge and I chaperoned. Nature + 50 second-graders is an interesting combination. If you tried real hard, you could hear the birdsong. I can’t wait to go back under quieter circumstances.
We are all standing at the edge of something right now, aren’t we, Dear Reader? It’s like the flood gates are opening and it’s all coming down. Finally, finally. Inevitably, inevitably. I turned my mind over to losing Roe back when this regime was elected in 2016. Just because we had to wait a little longer than I thought we would didn’t mean that the inevitability didn’t loom. Yes, I know that this is only the start. Lawsuits and appeals take time to do what they need to do. I don’t have the time to watch with bated breath. I have other fires to tend to.
It’s easy to say that this isn’t our fault. “I’m liberal. I vote Democrat. I care.” Sure. Great. Good for you.
But this current world we are living in is the result of the compounding weight of so many silences. The time when each of us chose peace over progress. Peace at our tables, in our bedrooms, between the pews, on the soccer field, and everywhere else we gather has wrought chaos upon the greater world. Peace at brunch, “blood over water” and other fiddle faddle… The idea that hard conversations cannot, should not, must not happen within the confines of the walls we build and keep… our timidity within the threads of the lives we’ve so woven together has resulted in the fraying of the larger pattern. What I’m trying to say is that none of us are innocent and none of us have ever been immune.
This not a call for you to pick up the nearest verbal rock and throw it at the next conservative you encounter. We’re spending so much time screaming the same 5 phrases to each other that we haven’t the breath to actually speak truth nor the space in our ear canals to receive it when it flies. The work required is not sharing yet another damn meme or making one more snide comment or putting on your red cosplay. The work was never designed to be loud, nor for drawing attention only to one’s self, or holier-than-thouness or otherwise a trip of the ego. The work has never been about you. The work has always been about us all. The work has always started with the question “will this build a better country that does right by everyone?”
While we spend this weekend in hot debate over wrongs and platitudes and real, actual mourning of the erosion of human rights… I want you to stop and close your eyes and really visualize the world you want to live in. Stop and be quiet. Stop and focus first on the inner (what do I need from my country to make me safe and whole?) and then on the outer (what can I do right now to make the kind of country I want to live in possible?) and then even further than that (how can I make sure that my vision is inclusive of others? How can I make sure I empower other people do make this country better for everyone?). Then do the work. Speak your truth. Speak the truth. Show up for the place where you live and all the people who live where you live. Reach out to those around you who need and who have. Bridge the gaps between. Be the bridge.
What does that have to do with women’s healthcare rights? Everything.
Dear Reader: You are not helpless. You are not a victim. You are not innocent. You are not insignificant. You are not without power. You are not without purpose. You are not without resource. You are not without recourse. You are not without. So get to work.
I’ve written a lot about the many fires burning. I’ve asked you to pick one or two to concentrate on. Sometimes there are flare-ups and lending a bit of your water is a right and good thing to do. This is one of those times if you can spare it. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU would be nourished by your donations. If you can’t spare your water, don’t. Keep concentrating on the fires you care about. Let this still be an urgent warning to you, too: you never know when your fire will flare up. Don’t give up on it. Keep doing your work.
And remember that the world we want is possible if we do the work for it. Elections matter. 2020 matters more than ever. Have you lost enough yet, Dear Reader? If you haven’t, what are you prepared to lose? This oppressor is coming for us all. Your whiteness will not save you. Your preciousness (white femaleness, richness, education, generations of establishment, etc) will not save you. You are not immune. This is happening. The work is yours to do. By saving us all, you save yourself, too.
It’s a rainy, cold day in Massachusetts. Apropos to the mood. I’m grateful for the green it brings and the pollen it keeps down. I’m still grateful for the new green and the shadows now created by the fuller leaves. I’m grateful for the full grass and the sprouting blossoms. I’m grateful for the season, whatever it brings.
I only have one wish for you this weekend, Dear Reader: one good act. Just one. Make it full and powerful. Do it quietly and purposefully. Do it with feeling and meaning. Do it because you yearn for a better world and you know that you can be part of its building. Do it because, despite everything that’s happening, we’re worthy of your good work and the world you’d like to live in. Do it for the good of us all, Dear Reader.
Dear Reader, you are loved. You are beloved, no matter what the world says. You are loved because you were created. That’s it. That’s all it takes. It’s irrational, it’s inexplicable, it’s perfect. You are loved. What you do matters. Your humanity does not come with an asterisk. Because you know this, deep down in your soul, then you should know it about all of the others around you. You are the light against the darkness. So are they. So are we all. So what does that mean? Shine brightly to inspire. Lend to your light to those who may be dimmed. Burn hotly to ward off those who would snatch away your brilliance. Sparkle in the hopes that others will follow your lead. You are not alone in this. You are not alone in the work. I promise.
Until Monday, take very good care. Of yourself and your neighbor. Both are beloved.