She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.
- Shel Silverstein
I thought I was an engaged citizen. I have voted in every election since I was 18. I have signed petitions and done some marching and called some Senators and Representatives and wrote some poetry and hosted some events. And now, it is apparent that this type of engagement will not be enough for me anymore. I, and many others, are realizing that we are suddenly in the middle of a rebellion and revolution that (at least I) thought were things of the past. America had figured it out. Sure we disagreed on lots of things, but at the end of the day, we had a center that most of us could agree on.
I still think that’s true, as is evidenced by the sheer numbers of protests and outcries. I think the current ruling Kleptocracy is, while very real, not representative of us. I hold to that when I watch, open mouthed, as one day of #45’s actions feels like a year of being run over by a truck.
I’ve had to add daily acts of political activism to my routine, and that has caused me to have to adjust. I have had to (and continue to) dig deep inside to find out what tools I have that I have let go dormant that I can use now to benefit the #resistance. In my 20s, I spoke out against President George HW Bush’s policies, and then again with President George W Bush’s administration. I wrote plays and poems. My work was picketed. I was put on a Catholic Watchdog list. But I had something to say.
I was so certain of everything. So very much rooted in my twenties. And as I grew more, I understood that I was not always right. That shouting was rarely the most effective means of communication. That outrage, unmanaged and left to fly wildly, wasn’t helpful. So I moved away from anything controversial in my public life. I still voted, signed petitions, called representatives. But I didn’t want to offend people. I wanted to connect people.
I don’t think those changes I made were wrong. I was young and righteous and smug and my anger was destroying me. But I think now that I may have gone too far. By attempting to remain neutral, I haven’t always said much of anything. By trying not to incite conflict, I may have inadvertently turned away from something or someone I could have helped.
And here we are in February, 2017, and I have found the rage I thought I left behind in my 20s is still there. I am not interested in fighting. I do not want conflict. But here we are. And the choices we make now will be judged by future generations. This isn’t about one bill or one appointment or one executive order. This is about a full on assault on the Constitutional foundations of America, and as we have seen in the protests, it’s not only Democrats or Progressives who are speaking out. It’s Independents and Republicans. Green Party folks and no-party folks. It’s every country in the world.
And so, with that rage that fueled my twenties, and the wisdom I’ve gained in the thirty years since then, I am reclaiming that fire. I have more tools to use it in a healthful way. I have more experience with communication and conflicts and mediations. But that fire is there, and as I wrote in a post on Facebook in Pantsuit Nation the night after the election, “I promise I will never be silent again.”
Is there something you’ve let go to sleep for awhile that can help you now? This is the time. We cannot say we didn’t see this coming, and I, for one, cannot and will not say that I did nothing.