After the November election, I bought an online subscription to the Washington “Democracy Dies in Darkness” Post. The app is easy to use and I routinely start my morning scrolling through the headlines, if admittedly, not taking the time to actually read the articles. I have this anxiety about what has happened while I was sleeping so a quick flip through the top stories gives me a general briefing for the start of my day.
With today’s headlines, I can tell my current mood of despair, sadness and confusion will not be lifted easily. Along with the anticipated deconstructions of our President’s alarming, though not unexpected, response to Charlottesville, I found these signs of the times:
- “Factory workers are quitting, many would rather find other jobs”
- “Why your pet is fat, hint: every nutrition tip you’ve heard is probably wrong”
- “Volcanoes under melting ice, climate change could trigger eruptions in Antarctica”
- “ESPN apologizes for player ‘auction'”
- “There’s plague in Arizona, authorities warn of fleas that can infect people and pets
- “Don’t want nude pics from strangers? Change this iPhone setting.”
- “What do you do if your child sides with neo-Nazis?
- “Trump reverses climate-change order, construction projects will no longer need to consider flood risk”
- “More than 18,000 died on US roadways in the first six months of 2017”
- “A Swiss hotel singles out Jews” “asking ‘Jewish guests’ to shower before using the swimming pool.
Good morning to you.
Well, it turns out that people are leaving factory work because the unemployment rate is low and people are betting they can find better, less physically taxing jobs in the market now which is somewhat optimistic, pets don’t need a grain-free diet and it’s a marketing ploy (my industry can be jerks), and traffic deaths are actually down from a year ago.
But the rest of it? It’s just as the headlines make them sound. Bleak. A massive flea outbreak seem to be the least of our concerns.
To top it off, last night I went and saw the not very good, but still thought-provoking movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel”–the Al Gore follow-up to the 2006 Oscar winner, “An Inconvenient Truth.” I learned that of course it’s raining more, all the melting ice cap water is evaporating–and what goes up, must come down–in the form of rain. And lots of it.
With all this heaviness on my mind, it feels slightly disingenuous–and possibly tone deaf?–to post my much delayed and highly anticipated “Ipsy vs. Birchbox” post that was scheduled for today.
At the same time, though all of this is on my mind. I’m still not sure what to say. And even less sure of what to do.
I was at a meeting up in Northern Wisconsin on Monday and a client–who I view as a friend–made an impassioned plea that at our next meeting, we are going to be the one committee that stops talking about an issue that’s on multiple organizations’ agendas, and actually make some kind of decision and movement on it.
Yes!!! I wanted to jump out of my seat and do cartwheels! I like discussion as much as the next person but I want action!
And yet–here I am with the news all around me and I am at a loss of what to do about it. Completely inaction. It seems like so many plates are spinning around me and all of them are slowing down at the same time and I’m just looking at them while they crash around me.
And that’s just thinking about national issues, not the personal ones that feel much more immediate and have my attention. I find those plates first and rarely go back to the others.
Because I can. I will be the first to admit that I don’t HAVE to do anything about all the headlines I read. I am in a position of privilege, so I can just go day-to-day and allow it to be someone else’s fight to take up. Of course, it will eventually become my problem–what happened in Charlottesville could happen anywhere–my hometown, and yours. But no one is waiting for Lyn Pilch to save the day. So I could just hang tight.
Or I can do the minimum, jump on social media and share all the posts and memes and midnight musings on how I will fight the power (not unlike what I’m doing now–though a post would be shorter…) but right now that feels a bit hollow to me. And confusing. I’d like to say I can do it, and will do it, or would do it, but right now I don’t know how to do it. But perhaps just seeing that I care and I’m paying attention will show some support to friends who are finding their very existence marginalized again in new and terrifying ways. But it also might make me feel like I did something when really–I just added my hand to the huddle before the break: “Go Team!”–and then sat back down on the bench.
Instead, I feel like just admitting–I’m in!–but I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what rally to attend. I don’t know what that thing is I can do that will feel like I’m not just having a discussion, but taking action.
And truth be told, I am incredibly cynical after the Act 10 protests that seemed to accomplish nothing but divide our state even more. I thought showing up en masse would demand attention. It would get family and friends who voted for the Governor to see how passionately opposed we were to the dismantling of this crucial institution and at least listen to why we so vehemently disagreed. And it didn’t. It made people just yell at each other, if they talked at all.
I am a positive person. My job is to go to communities and find all the great things about them and why people would want to take their hard earned money and time to visit those locations. Sometimes, I’ve been one of the only people in a room full of locals–in a place I’m unfamiliar with–to believe we could find something positive about that place. And we always do. I like finding the silver lining in situations. I have been called naive, and delusional, and too nice. And I’ve been okay with this.
But now I’m struggling. And maybe you’re struggling, too.
I don’t want to just go to a rally and listen to people talk. I don’t want to march around the Capitol. I don’t want to do the things I’ve done in the past and found no change at the other end.
A couple years ago, I saw Diane Nash speak on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day about how the lunch counter sit-ins were planned and the philosophy used to make social action happen. It drove home all the reasons our Act 10 protests accomplished so little even though so many people were engaged and energized. I recall back to that talk and I keeping wanting Diane Nash to walk in and tell me what to do now.
I want a leader. I want someone to tell me what to do. I want a goal. I want a plan. I want something to hang on to, something tangible.
More and more, I’m starting to feel like that leader is me. And that leader is you. But we won’t be doing that work from behind our computers. We are going to go somewhere and not march in circles, but find purposeful steps that make change.
Diane Nash worked with Martin Luther King Jr. from 1961–1965. In reading more on Nash after that speech, this one quote has stuck with me “I never considered Dr. King my leader. I always considered myself at his side and I considered him at my side. I was going to do what the spirit told me to do. So If I had a leader, that was my leader.”
I don’t know where to set my feet right now, but maybe you do. And if you do–I’m in.
But if you’re struggling like me, perhaps we can listen to the spirit together and uncover the path to action.
I’m optimistic we can find it.
So…makeup? We will get to that tomorrow.