No one’s more surprised than I am that I started creating an action checklist for civic engagement. As a woman, a lesbian, and a sensitive soul, I would very much like to remain indefinitely anonymous and on the sidelines—out of harm’s way.
But I look at my country’s leadership and refuse to believe this is the best we can do.
Before the election, I was writing about the feminine heroic, which involves facing our darkest inner places.
Since then, I’ve been facing my own. I feel abject dread about the next four years (and eight is inconceivable). Channeling my immigrant ancestors’ fear, I want to run far away, hide, keep my head down until the storm passes.
I have to face this. We all do, eventually. Otherwise it will run the show.
The consequence of a short attention span
What concerns me most is our culture’s bent toward immediate results, and in their absence, apathy and submission.
We (me included) expect our outrage to create change. Like #grabyourwallet and the recount effort. Immediate action, followed by the expectation of immediate results.
We (especially my fellow white people) are used to being heard and valued. When ignored, we get pissy and give up. Okay, maybe that’s just me. 🙂
My biggest fear
After Bush beat Gore on a technicality, I watched in horror as citizens’ rights eroded, as we waged war, the growing cavalier attitude toward the planet’s resources. I flailed helplessly on the sidelines, sick with worry, bitter, but unengaged.
I’m afraid this history will repeat itself, but worse. What if no one in authority cares about my values? Or I’m mocked for my views? Or if speaking out makes me a target of authorities? (My privilege is showing, by the way. Some people face this daily.)
Realistic or not, this is my fear.
Facing your fear moves you forward
When we face our fears, the light reappears. Always.
I’m inspired by the example of the people of Standing Rock. They are showing us how it’s done: with clear purpose, commitment, and community, they know that change comes through peace and prayer. I’m inspired by the Dalai Lama who has met tragedy with compassion and meditation. And King who met oppression with passion and persistence. And women—so many women who get up anyway in spite of loss, harassment, devaluing, condescension, abuse and more—just get on with their lives anyway. And have done forever.
People keep writing me from everywhere, thanking me for my work. My time. My clarity. But I have to remember that I’m part of a community of passionate people. Part of a 4000-year old force toward progress and growth—maybe longer.
“The moral curve of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”
We may not effect change tomorrow. Or the next day. It may get frustrating and hard and scary. But we—you, me—need to keep this long-term arc of history in mind, and take it to heart too.
We are made from stronger stuff than fear.