On January 21, 2016 I was in a 5-car accident in which my 5-month old car was totaled. It was a low point as you might imagine. I was very scared and sad and felt alone in the weeks that followed. I remember the specific date so well because of the subsequent insurance paperwork-- that process is ongoing. As far as I understand it, the insurance companies representing the two cars that hit me are arguing about how much damage (to my car and to my body) each is responsible for. A year has passed-- I bought a new car and saw a chiropractor for a while--and still I am often frightened when driving or even riding in cars. This lingering vulnerability really pisses me off because I have worked very hard for years to cultivate bravery in myself. I am trying to have faith in the process of time. Le sigh.
I have always been somewhat of an anxious person (I come by it honestly-- it's in the genes), and certainly the accident and my therapy work have contributed to my current uncomfortable, heightened awareness. Additionally, The Election-- Trump's victory--has impacted me (and many of us) greatly; I am truly concerned for our democracy and for the rights and welfare of our people. Someone close to me-- an immigrant from an oppressed country-- has said many times that Americans have been so coddled by democracy that we won't notice warning signs until it's too late. I feel like this is already happening. Every day there are unnerving and appalling developments.
On January 21, 2017 I marched in Cincinnati at one of hundreds of sister marches around the world linked with the massive and beautiful Women’s March on Washington. Collectively, literal millions of people in our global community stood up to fear and hate and expressed our values in a peaceful, democratic way. I have not heard of a single arrest resulting from the march. We marched because women's rights are human rights, because black lives matter, because climate change is very real, because we are a nation of immigrants, because healthcare is a basic human right, because public education is fundamental, because love is love is love is love, because we reject President Trump's platform of hate, and because it's up to us to exercise and protect democracy. I felt empowered and lifted during the event. I felt connected. I did not feel alone. I felt hopeful and encouraged that we can use this resistance-- that the (good!)will of the people will not be ignored.
I rode the positive energy through the afternoon and evening, but as I lay in bed last night I started to feel anxious again. Yesterday was HUGE, to be sure-- a giant and colorful show of global unity around these important human rights issues. But...what's next? We can't afford to normalize Trump's words and actions. We have a long road ahead and we must be vigilant. We must live our values every day. I am still figuring out what that looks like in my life. One of my goals for 2017 is to be more conscious about my spending-- I plan to donate more money directly to causes I believe in and to purchase items with social benefit. I will march again. I am also working on breaking down my empathy wall which, admittedly, has been somewhat difficult. We read and discussed Arlie Russell Hochschild's Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right in book club and that helped me to better understand the feeling narrative (the "deep story," as she says) of the other side, but my liberal views remain strong as ever.
Friends, do you have other ideas? How can we better live as activists?
I'm all ears.