I posted this to my Facebook this morning, and then realized it properly belongs here.
Today, in Washington, D.C. our country will install a man as president that is in no way prepared or qualified for the role. A man who has promised to drag us back to the days when anyone who wasn’t white, straight and male could be ignored, overlooked, discriminated against, harassed, beaten and put to death with no reparations against those who committed the offense unless they too were not white, straight and male.
We have come a long way as a nation since those days, well at least sometimes we have. Clearly we still have issues. However, this man, and the political party he represents, seek to eliminate the poor through pulling what little they have away from them, kill the sick by removing their support systems through lack of funding, kill the people of color by looking the other way when cops disproportionately target them, kill the LGBT community by legalizing discrimination and hate and returning them to the closet out of fear for their lives.
I know we’ve all had moments of despair in recent weeks, that we’ve looked on this day with absolute dread, myself included. I would love to be at one of the many protest marches, but my agoraphobia told me early on that wouldn’t be a good plan, and the weather has completed the kibosh by flaring up my joint issues to the point that walking and using my arms for much really isn’t going to happen today. If you are out there marching: be safe, stay hydrated, wear sunblock (yes, even in winter), stick with your people. I’m there with you in spirit.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I will do myself to be a part of the resistance moving forward. I have resolved that I will not be ignored, I will not be overlooked, I will not allow discrimination and harassment to become American values. I will speak out, stand up, intervene. I will call out bigotry. But that isn’t enough. It must be accompanied by something else.
I will become militantly kind. Beyond just telling a bully to back off, I will minister to the needs of the bullied and when safe to do so, I will see if I can minister to the needs of the bully as well. I will continue to interact and help the homeless when I can. I will use my vote to counter hatred and bigotry when I can. I will speak with love in my voice and my words.
Do not misconstrue kindness for weakness, my friends. Kindness is the seed of hope. Rebellions are built on hope.
Go ahead and be angry, feel the burn of it and let it scour the emotional landscape clean. But when the flames have dimmed, it is time to plant. Militant Kindness. Let’s start a rebellion.
It’s been a while since I was as eager to shed a year as I am this year. I think we can all agree that 2016 was a strange, angry, sorrow-filled, confusing and eye-opening year. There was a lot of loss, maybe it only seemed it was bigger and darker than other years. Personal losses of friends was significant for me this year. And the loss of so many of our heros and idols seemed to be bigger than recent memory.
I turned 48 years old this year, an age I couldn’t conceive of when I was in my teens. I lost a job and found a new one. I re-published a book that took me years to create. I wrote a book which will be published in the new year.I traveled to new places and met some AMAZING people. I lost 60 pounds, and gained some of it back.
Being Pagan, I do my “New Year” at Samhain in October, but New Year’s Eve always strikes me as a day to wipe away the lasting darkness, open a new book, a new chapter and write in hope.
We have challenges ahead of us in the coming year. The political climate is rife with fury and fear that threatens to undo years, decades even, of progress. We can not allow that to happen. Too many lives depend upon it. I don’t generally do New Year’s resolutions, but this year I have one. In 2017, I will respond with love, with kindness to whatever comes my way. It is a rebellion in the country we live in today. It is a rebellion against those who would remove protections for the vulnerable, steal money from the poor, turn their backs on the downtrodden and broken.
It is time to start anew in making our country strong and proud again. It is time to start anew in love.
Yesterday, when the news broke that Carrie Fisher had died after suffering a massive heart attack, I won’t lie, I cried for hours. My entire newsfeed on Facebook was filled with people posting pictures of her, talking about what she meant to them and with every post, my heart broke just a little more.
I was nine years old when I was introduced to Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia in Star Wars. It’s an age where you are really just starting to come into your own personality, still leaning heavily on what your parents have modeled for you, but starting to strike out on your own. I was beginning to find my own music, my own books, my own movies.
I discovered many things through the window of Star Wars. I fell in love with Scifi, both books and movies. I discovered a truth that I will mostly buck the trend and fall for the “other” guy (while all my friends were all about Luke Skywalker, I was firmly in love with Han Solo). And I discovered that girls, and even princesses, did not need to be the damsel in distress in order to be of importance to a story.
I mean, she was the “damsel in distress” and Luke goes in to save her, but there’s no one who can argue that she didn’t participate in her own rescue. She was witty and sarcastic, she could hold her own with the big boys.
For a young woman with a burning desire to write my own stories, it formed a foundation for me that I still lean on today. I yearn to develop female characters that are the embodiment of those things.
But Carrie wasn’t just our princess. She was a full, complete woman outside of that role. As a woman, Carrie was also smart, witty and possessed of a caustic wit that was dry and self-deprecating and wonderful. She was open about who she was. She exposed things about herself that our society has taught us to keep in the dark and dared anyone to fault her for it. She was the voice of pride in who she was, in all her faults and she made it okay for the rest of us to embrace our faults, our quirks and to live genuinely within our skin.
With the coming of The Force Awakens, she gave us even more. The feisty princess had faded, and in her place was a commanding General. A woman who was not still important despite her age, but a woman who had grown more important in a role she chose for herself. It was a goal that she held to through loss and pain, and she fully embodied that.
Carrie Fisher was more than any movie princess could ever be. Carrie Fisher was a General that many of us would follow, not because we were commanded, but because we were lead.
Fare thee well, General. Lead on.
I apologize now if what follows tends to wander a bit. No matter how much time I’ve spent this week trying to put words to what I am feeling, the complexity of the entire thing has me reeling still.
Yes, I’m talking about the election…or more precisely, I’m talking about the reaction to the election…Mine, yours…all the varied reactions I’ve seen.
Let me start with me, because I know me intimately and I have done enough soul searching to express myself. There was shock, of course, followed quickly by anger and then came the fear. Grief took a little longer to arrive, but arrive it did. Something else has been a part of this emotional milkshake as well, but it took me until last night to identify it. Guilt.
I feel guilty. Not because I voted for a vile man, but because so many like me did. See, I live in a pretty big pocket of privilege. I am white, middle class and while I am part of the LGBTQ community, I inhabit that invisible pocket under the B. On top of that, I live in the very liberal San Francisco Bay Area. The chances that I will be a target of any of the fallout, is small.
Yet, I have friends who have already been threatened. I have friends who have had their property vandalized, their citizenship all but invalidated by those who would whitewash our nation, their lives threatened.
The people in my life are a rainbow of nationalities, religions, skin colors, genders, orientation…pretty much any label we use to divide ourselves are discarded and instead, they are kin…they are my chosen family, brothers and sisters of my heart. People who fill my life with love, and they are today in danger.
I don’t even mean in danger by the policies that our newly elected vileness pose. I am talking merely of the danger of a populace of angry people who have had the veneer of societal responsibility ripped away, giving them permission to express their true feelings about the people they somehow believe are oppressing them.
We, as a society, have to step up. We have to remind these angry people that their misogyny, their bigotry is unacceptable..that we will not stand idly by while they abuse those they dislike for whatever reason. We must begin immediately. We must start now.
Yes, I know. You’re hurting too. You’re grieving too. You can’t find the reason in this madness. I know. I’m still there too. I don’t begin to know how we came to this place. I just know that we’re here now and we must act.
We must act now and we must make our voices heard. Not just those who have been targeted. I’m talking to the white men and women who are feeling this guilt, the ones who did not vote for vileness, the ones who maybe did, but have begun to see the error of their ways. Stand up. Act. Do something more than wringing your hands while you sit comfortably within your privilege.
Start now…and don’t stop. We need to protect our people. We need to make our society a safe place to live in, not for some of our citizens, but for all of them. We need to make enough noise that the Republican congress and the vileness we elected do not dare to enact the things he spoke of, for fear that we the people will respond.
Grieve. Work through your fear, your anger, your guilt. Find your strength.
But then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and strap on those stompy boots. We’ve got work to do.
I hear a lot of people bemoaning the fact that third party candidates weren’t invited to the big debate show last night. They’re often the same people bemoaning the fact that Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. They clamor about “the status-quo” and “institutionalized politics” and how we need to break out of the two-party system. They want real progress, not the inching forward we’ve been doing for the last 8 years, and will likely continue to do under a Hillary Clinton presidency.
They talk about casting a protest vote to let the government feel their rage. They talk about mobilizing everyone who has bought all of the lies about how crooked Hillary is, and all of those who can’t stomach voting for Trump, despite being Republican, to vote for Stein or Johnson, basic math be damned.
You know, maybe…maybe such a protest could be organized if it had started about a year ago. Maybe. But even then, basic math runs contrary to the idea. The percentage of eligible citizenry who actually vote is ridiculously low, then that percentage is divided, first along the party lines. Like it or not, Democrat and Republican are the heavy hitters here. The bulk of the US voting population is one or the other. That leaves a minority of a minority for the other parties and the independents to fight over.
It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that the odds are seriously against any minor party or independent candidate to do anything more than split the vote on one side of the aisle or the other and hand the contest to the candidate of the party that didn’t get split by the also-rans.
Now, before you start screaming at me about change and progress and all of that, let me remind you that I’m probably more liberal than most of the Democratic party. And yes, I’m registered Democrat. And I voted for Hillary in the primary here in California. Not because I didn’t think that Bernie would be a great President, but because I knew that Bernie would face the same opposition that Obama has for the last 8 years.
Does that mean Hillary is further right than Bernie? Maybe. Or maybe she’s better at finding compromise. That’s what a government by the people, for the people is meant to be about. Does it mean that I’m advocating for the middle ground?
Actually, yes. We, as a country, do better when we remember how to compromise, when we see our fellow citizens as human beings with needs and desires just like us, rather than demons that are out to kill us and take our guns and force us to get healthcare.
We don’t need a revolution, we already did that once. We need to remember the principles we were founded on and we need to come together to bring about lasting change. We have a lot of problems that need to be dealt with and with the path we’re currently on, w ‘re more likely to end up with a second civil war rather than another revolutionary war.
But, if you still want to throw a tantrum and demand we leave the two party system for good? You can. But that revolution can not start at the top. You can’t expect to just throw a fit when it’s time to elect a president, jump into the fray a few months from the election and expect it to go your way.
In order to change the system, you’re going to have to work within the system first. Get candidates on the national scene in the House and the Senate (and you know, make sure they aren’t kooks), campaign locally and at the State level. Build up a party that has a chance as a contender. Start now and maybe you’ll be ready for the next presidential election.
Or, split the vote, end up with Trump as president for the next four years and whine about how it isn’t really your fault before you slink back into your hiding place to commiserate with your co-revolutionaries without actually accomplishing anything.
For the record? I really want to see you do the work. I want to see the status-quo threatened in a meaningful way. I want to see new ideas and better plans. I want to watch us grow in the way that only open dialog and challenging ideas can nurture.
Bring the revolution. But do it in a way that doesn’t destroy our country for the next four years.