Holidays are over. I dragged out of my sick bed this morning to keep a date with a special person, hacking and blowing my nose. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster youth and the meeting was to be with my child. Nothing could make me break an appointment with this kid who has been let down so many times before in his young life. My pure passion for this work motivated me to get up and move, but the truth is that since the start of 2017 I’ve found it challenging to motivate myself to do much of anything. I am caught between two excruciating feelings. One is total sadness. It doesn’t last long, but washes over me every single day as I move about my community. The recent election has shown me that I do not know my neighbors at all. I do not know what lurks behind the face in the bakery that sells a warm croissant or the mindset of the guy who takes a parking spot I’ve patiently waited to get. Who are these fellow citizens? Can I dare reveal who I am any longer to random people in the airport or in line at the pharmacy without risking a potential conflict? Before election night I never went on social media much; I thought it was inane and a waste of my time. Post Trump’s victory, I was desperately trying to locate like-minded people in an effort to feel sane and subsequently have been educated on Facebook. While I found common ground, I also learned an opposite way of thought and creed that has sliced and stunned me into realizing the vast chasm between me and other Americans. The vehement anger revealed and in some cases denial of basic fact has been wounding. Yes. Wounding.
Lest you imagine that I am one of those Lib-tard snowflakes, reduced to crying into my morning vanilla latte, demeaned on Facebook and reviled in letters to the editor as so soft that I cannot possibly be a foe, let me reveal the other feeling that I am wrestling with: Rage. Sharp. Huge. Damaging. Most who follow a spiritual path will tell you that anger is not an emotion to bear for long. It can chip away at you and eventually cut you into pieces. We are counseled to learn the origin of our rage and conquer it by ancient Buddhist teachings, Christian scripture and the wisdoms of Islam. Knowing that truth, I’ve asked myself ten times a day: How am I going to live through the next four years? The tidy answer is to say that I will swear off social media, the network news programs and read uplifting prose instead. Candidly, I cannot promise to forsake my passion for current events and politics just because the current situation is repugnant. My husband’s life work was local government; the reading, analyzing and discussion of a day’s events is one of the richest parts of our lives. We concur that there are and will be times when we will simply have to limit the poison that seeps into our harmony, but to stop knowing what is going on in my beloved country? Never.
When I returned home today, I dragged up to my office and began to sort through the mess on my desk. There is the usual end-of-the-year accounting that I always hate, so I stalled; fiddling around until I unearthed a scrap of paper on which I had jotted down one of the many anonymous quotes that circulate on Facebook. In a nano-second I knew the first moments of peace that I’ve had in weeks, oddly emanating from the very place that has caused such discomfort recently. The note reads:
The Peaceful Resistance against Trump movement is offered by Robert Reich online. Michael Moore, documentary film maker and political activist is crafting 100 Days of Resistance against Trump with a steady flow of concrete ideas and action items. His leadership has already proven to be valuable on specific protest points and he is constantly on social media; nothing escapes his eagle eye as a modern Patriot. There are many other strong voices in the media like Dan Rather, Charles Blow, Eugene Robinson and Van Jones.
Yet, in addition to participation in various resistance movements which I applaud, can we turn uncomfortable feelings into something more personally pro-active? I was again reminded this morning how miraculous and personally enriching my experience with foster kids has been over the past six years. By becoming involved in a charitable group you too might take back a feeling of control in some small way that shifts beyond your own family. Can we create a recipe that both nurtures us as women and encourages our public protests? A part of me is literally buoyant with the idea that I can be effective in causing enough commotion to make a political difference, but it doesn’t have to be viewed only as protest. I can be the storm in my unique way and so can you.
This week Paul Ryan tested the waters regarding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and got more than he bargained for when piles of responses that were physically delivered to the Hill. He ordered the crowd delivering the overwhelming support for Obamacare escorted out of the building by security officers rather than affording them a photo op. Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican from Tennessee had the same experience when 84% of those she heard from on her Twitter poll opposed the repeal of the ACA. Her publicity stunt backfired. It was huge and we each need to broadcast these sorts of victories on our own Facebook pages.
Be loud, as the young but wise actress Jennifer Lawrence advises. Make it your business to verify the stories that you re-post on social media and do not be sucked into meaningless battles. Preserve your energy. Be in each exchange to win. Write letters to the editor and be accurate. Take the time to do your research and get it right because you speak for every woman. Yes this is going to be exhausting, but each of us will make a difference. We are the drops of water that create an ocean. Attend the nearest Sister March to the “Women’s March on Washington” Saturday, January 21st if you can and recruit people to go with you. You stand with millions of brothers and sisters across the country, approximately 66,000,000 to be accurate. You are not alone. Be the storm!