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Recently, I’ve noticed more articles on staying grounded in joy and hope, even when surrounded by fear. Perhaps such articles have always been part of the general social media discourse and I am only now becoming sufficiently calm to notice them. But I rather think (hope!) this is a trend. In me, it certainly is. After the initial rounds of fear and trepidation, the constant adrenaline wore off. I’m not naturally a person who enjoys being fearful; from my experience training dogs, I suspect it’s not an appealing state for most of us. Some, I suppose, enjoy the “high” of confrontation, even violence, but I’m not among them. Harming others and myself is not where I want to live my life.

I see also posts affirming commitment to action, often in terms of “We Will Fight On!” and I’ve been resisting the urge to jump on that bandwagon. (Also the “Organize the Resistance” brigade.) It all sounds so necessary, a matter of putting my money where my mouth is. And is just as unrealistic for me as remaining in that state of terrified fury.

As unhealthy.

I am not objecting to others following the paths to which they are led. Resisting fascism and protecting the most vulnerable are inarguably vital to our survival as individuals, communities, and a society. I am thrilled that people have the drive and knowledge to organize such resistance. I will be right there, cheering them on. But I won’t be in the forefront.

It’s taken me a long time, coming from a family of dyed-in-the-wool organizers (labor unions, radical politics, war resistance, etc.) to come to terms with not being one of them. Undoubtedly, seeing the cost to my family played a role in my reluctance. I’ve marched in my share of civil rights and anti-war demonstrations, written a gazillion letters, painted an equal number of signs. But it’s not where my heart is. I’ve seen the joy in the eyes of those for whom this is their passion, their “thing.” I want to hug them all and say, “I’m so glad you’re out there, doing this for both of us.”

The fallacy is that making the world a better place is an either/or proposition. Either I’m out there, making headlines by facilitating events of vast numbers for the people’s revolution (as an example), or I’m sitting at home, knitting while Yosemite burns.

The fact is, any social movement happens on many levels. There’s the outward, banner-headline, political level, one that often requires organization on a national or international level. There is a community level, supporting your neighbors, particularly those in need. Soup kitchens are just as necessary as demonstrations outside the White House, although they serve fewer people. Taking care of ourselves and our families is yet another.

Quiet, mindful actions that focus on compassion, justice, and unity need not be limited to small numbers. In fact, outward activism must be balanced by inner activism. We can all find where we are called to act along that spectrum, and we can move back and forth (or in and out, whichever image works best) with circumstances, experience, and energy levels. What a relief to realize I don’t have to pick one thing or level of involvement!

So what speaks to me right now is remembering joy. The year to come is almost certainly going to be full of occasions for grimness if not despair, so I don’t want to start off that way. I want to full up my “savings account of hope” as much as I can, cultivating those people, places, and things that lift my spirits. I want to never, ever let go of believing we can survive this, kindness and persistence will triumph, and no matter how dark it may seem at the moment, love will win.

I refuse my consent to fascism. I also refuse my consent to despair.
I affirm that I will cling tenaciously – relentlessly – to hope, and I invite you to do so, too.

Date: 2017-01-02 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joycemocha.livejournal.com
I have done the organizer thing, starting back in the Reagan era, and just don't find it in me to storm the barricades again. Especially after the neoliberals took things over in the 90s and not-so-gently shoved those of us more to the Left out of the system. There's a big mess that needs to be cleaned up and my heart just isn't there any more.

What calls to me more and more is getting involved in the small rural community that I live in part-time. The Soroptimists play a huge role in local nonprofit support and I'm going to join them. I want to focus on keeping this community viable and strong, providing an economic base and things to do for youth.

Date: 2017-01-02 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deborahjross.livejournal.com
Yes to acting locally. I've heard good things about the Soroptimists and may check them out. Our local Quaker Meeting (of which my husband is a member, and I an attender) helps shelter and feed the homeless on cold nights.

I'd like to put some energy toward 2018 and 2020 Congressional/Gubernatorial elections. That might come in the form of small donations as no one seems to stuff envelopes any more and I'm not a phone caller or knocker on doors. Anyway, my state and county are so liberal, that would be preaching to the choir for sure.

Date: 2017-01-03 05:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com
I agree: all different sorts of responses are called for and worthwhile.

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Deborah J. Ross

May 2017

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