The Angry Activist

While our goal may be to have our resistance emanate from peace and love, we are still human beings in a very difficult juncture for our country, dealing in Trump with an adversary who is extraordinarily hostile and dishonest and dangerous and who has gathered around him other life-threatening people like Pence and Bannon.  So we’re going to get triggered – and the challenge then becomes how to get ourselves back to a zone that is genuinely life-affirming.

Given all that, it is extraordinary that all through the election cycle and the first few weeks of Trump’s administration – until yesterday – I have never gotten really furious at Trump.  Angry, outraged, but never gut-level enraged – until yesterday.

Maybe it snuck up on me because I wasn’t ready for it. I was on a ten-minute break at work (I’m a cashier in a healthy supermarket) and checking my emails on my phone.  It was in this somewhat distracted environment that I read, in the Washington Post, an article about Trump accusing Barack Obama of wire-tapping Trump Tower.  Then, the real killer, he tweeted, “He’s a bad (or sick) man.”

All through the election campaign, I would get angry at Trump for stuff he said to and about Clinton.  I like her, admire her – supported her as a candidate, felt sure she would be a good president.  But I never loved her.  This is maybe why I never got really enraged about his attacks  on her.

Barack I love.  You don’t fuck with my Barack.  I considered changing that word to “mess with my Barack”.  What if there are children reading this?  Not likely.  Mess doesn’t capture it.  There’s something primal about my connection with Barack.  I admire him and his family so greatly that I feel protective of him.  Fuck with him you fuck with me.  So I was pissed. angry-demonstrator-girl

I didn’t have time to integrate this before my ten minutes were over and I was suddenly back in front of customers.  I tried to function, but I was seething.  This is a very liberal town and a very liberal store – you’re usually safe to criticize Trump.  Finally, after about twenty minutes of trying to function but really seething, I looked at the customers in front of me and made a snap judgment that this was a situation where I could get away with venting.

I had a short guy at 2 o’clock – who, looking back on it, really did look like a businessman.  Then, directly ahead of me – the next customer after the short guy – a big tall guy and at 10 o’clock a woman who seemed to be his partner.  I tried to keep some brakes on and ensure my safety.  “Would anybody mind if I vent about politics?”  The tall guy directly in front of me said, “I don’t think that would be safe.”

Now why did I decide that meant “Sure, go ahead”?  I’ll tell you why – because I just plain could not control it any more.  I couldn’t stop myself from venting, so I told myself this did not mean that he was conservative.  Actually he and the short guy both turned out to be conservative and the wife, who seemed very friendly through the whole encounter, never reported.

Actually I could not have been much luckier in my choice of conservative customers.  Neither of them ever showed any signs of getting genuinely angry – they mostly teased me about assuming that conservatives don’t buy healthy food.  I must have recovered pretty well too, because we overall had a very funny encounter.  As the tall guy was leaving, I said “For a conservative, you’re really funny.”

So I got off better than I had a right to, but this was not an example of healthy activism.  And I was still angry.  angry-demonstrator-guyActually the rest of my day was a story about how do you recover from getting really angry in the political wars.  Several things helped me to recover.

  • After the encounter with these three people, when I was still very raw and exposed, I just shut up and swiped groceries for a while.  And breathed.  Here – and really for the remaining five hours of my shift – the simple monotonous physicality of the work was soothing and helped me to get back into balance.
  • During some slow moments, I told one of my colleagues the story of me and the conservative customers.  While I’m usually pretty safe to assume that our customers are liberal, I’m maybe always safe to assume that with my co-workers.  I would be surprised if there is a one of them who is pro-Trump.  This is especially true of the front-end, where I really know these people.  So the co-worker I picked and I had gales of laughs over the story of my losing it with my venting.
  • I made a better choice of a customer to vent with about the news story – and we shared our outrage about Trump.  I discovered that we also shared a genuine love for Obama – and there was something very soothing about sharing at that level.
  • One thing I love about my job is the chance to affirm people.  I make a game of looking for just the right way to appreciate customers.  I leaned into that and it restored a healthy sense of positiveness.
    • “I like your hair.”
    • “What a great hat.”
    • “You have a perfect nose.”
    • “You two put out such a great vibe.  I bet people like being around you.”
    • “These are the most well-behaved children I’ve seen all day.”
  • The question I like to ask people on Friday and Saturday is “What’s something you are looking forward to this weekend?”  That also helped – on a day when I was still, couldn’t shake it, raw and angry – to surround me with positive energy.
  •   That night I went home and. after walking and feeding the dog, spent an hour at my computer doing good positive movement work – making contact with the leader of another resistance group.  I actually kept falling asleep over the email I was writing him, but it soothed me towards sleep.
  • This morning I woke up angry – that’s almost unprecedented for me.  But then I went dancing at 9 a.m. – my Sunday morning routine, with people i like and love – and that was very good for me.
  • This afternoon I got angry at my dog for ignoring my calls for her to come.  She’s an adorable, lovable little four-pound dog and I pretty much never get angry at her.  I’m not over it yet.

It’s a process – recognizing the anger, working with it, releasing it.  If I want to do civil disobedience, I’ll have to get better at it.  If I want to survive this period in our country’s life, I need to learn how to soothe myself.  If I want to be a healthy activist – if I want to really serve the resistance – I need to learn all I can about this.

A perfect evening of resistance

I arrived downtown about a half-hour early for the 9 p.m.”Casserole protest” at the city plaza/Vance Monument.  I considered just sitting in my car checking emails on my phone for the half-hour, but I was parked so near to one of my favorite clubs that it was an easy choice to leave the car.  The Block off biltmore is a beautiful space with a great vibe and all manner of progressive activities – and cool progressive people.  And Cam McQueen, the proprietor, is beautiful and charming and smart and a real progressive hero.  I have several topics I’d like to talk with her about, including having her club host a dance party I have in mind.  cam16583343_1830860833835527_4442902556837937152_n

I was in luck: Cam was there, and even had a few minutes to talk.  She warned me that she was wanting to get an early start home, but reassured me that she really did want to talk with me.  I didn’t have much time myself, so the timing felt fine – and we jammed a lot of great connecting into about 15 minutes.  I left feeling happy – reconnected with someone who is more and more feeling like a genuine friend.

Cacerolazo or “Casserole Protest” originates in Latin America, where people would protest the dictator by gathering in the town square to bang on pots and pans.  The MoveOn and Working Families Party leaders encouraged us to do this in cities across the country, as Trump was spewing his lies to Congress and the American people.  It was a way of saying, “We’re not listening to you.  We’re turning our backs on you.  You are not our president.  We’re going to sing and dance and come together.”  We may read the speech the next day, preferably the Washington Post annotated version, or listen to what Amy Goodman has to say about it – but tonight we will not give you the TV ratings. 

heatherandconnor
photo by Jeffrey DeCristofaro

When I arrived at the Monument a couple minutes early, three people were there: Sherry Vaughan, Heather and her son Connor.  Sherry was in her car waiting to signal us when the speech began – and mom and son were over by the monument, seeming to be enjoying each other’s company.

Heather and Connor really do seem to enjoy each other’s company – and to enjoy being themselves.  They are each of them fresh and unique – very much their own person.  And they have created a mother-son relationship that is very democratic – so unoppressive.  Heather seems to really support Connor just being himself – and he seems very comfortable in his own skin.  Together the two of them stand for liberation.

Sherry and I had lots of fun talking with each other – backing off a bit from our banging to hear each other, then leaning into it and letting out some hoots and hollers.  We debriefed the civil disobedience training that Sherry helped to organize on Sunday.  We debriefed the afternoon Resist Trump Tuesday rally, which she had not been able to make.  We celebrated our NC senator Richard Burr getting caught being Trump’s puppet.

I appreciated her for organizing the Sunday training.  I appreciated all the ways she is always appreciating me for my leadership of the group. This organizing work is a labor of love and in a very real way I don’t need the appreciation,  but it still does feel good.  Sherry and I are really developing a relationship for the long haul – over several different contexts, building our reality in connection with each other, supporting each other.  We talked at some length about the word “resist”: resistance we had run into from our friends about our use of the word (ironic, eh?) and how each of us had come to love the word now.

pack-sign
Photo by Jeffrey DeCristofaro

The four of us pot-bangers would ebb and flow with our instruments – sometimes beating our pots and pans very vigorously, other times letting the clanging go way back into the background.  It was a dance.

Two teenaged girls approached us in the dark and wanted to take a turn wailing on our pots and pans.  We thought that was great and made sure that each got a chance to try out all four pots. After they had been playing their hearts out for a while, one of us asked them if they had any idea what we were doing out here.  They acknowledged that they did not – in an innocent way that indicated that it had not occurred to them that this was a significant question.  But when we told them it was a protest against Trump’s speech, they thought that was great – and, who knows, this may have even have made them feel better about all their banging.

We didn’t have any signs.  Connor: “None of these people going by has any idea why we are doing this.”  Sherry: “Yeah, but doesn’t it feel great!?”  And it did feel great – so much better than sitting home helplessly while Trump promulgated his lies.  It was rally and team-building and play time all at once.  It fed us and will keep us going.  If the monks meditating in their monasteries help to make the planet a more peaceful place (I do believe this), then maybe us banging our pots and pans did the same.  Casserole protests were happening simultaneously in many cities across the country.  We were a little band, the four of us – but, by God, a casserole protest happened also in Asheville.

At 9:30, Heather and Connor had to leave to pick her husband up from work, so we called it an evening.  As I walked the three blocks back to my car, I decided to stop back in The Block to use the bathroom.  As I approached the club, it looked so beautiful shining out in the darkness – the bar really radiant and the back room a little more moody, belting out swing jazz from a live band and full of the whirling bodies of swing dancing.

the-block-lit-up
The Block in the evening – bar to the right, back room (dancing) to the left

As I approached the club, I asked myself would it be an even more perfect evening if I lingered in this beautiful room over a beer, rather than hurrying home to bed.  I did not agonize over that question, just trusted my actually peaceful and non-hurrying movement homeward.  Little did I know that I was actually going home to write, which pretty much always trumps almost everything else I might be doing, even sleep – it’s just the best.

And even the little hit of the beautiful aliveness of this club was enough. In the last two days, I had talked with three people about the need for us to stay balanced, enjoy beauty and have fun as we immerse ourselves in our political commitments – or even as we just lightly touch into this political cesspool, which can be so toxic.  Here I had the beauty of the club and the dancers and the music and Cam.  I had the remembrance of how important dancing is to me and how much fun I have in the 1-3 times a week that I do ecstatic dancing.

The signs by the bathrooms (in this HB2 oppressive anti-transgender bathroom state) somehow pulled the whole evening together.

bathroom-signs-1bathroom-signs-2

 

Called to be out of our comfort zone

It maybe doesn’t help anything for us to be terrified. If public speaking is our greatest fear, maybe that’s not what the movement is calling for from us.  But there’s a lot to be said for being out of our comfort zone.  And maybe, in desperate times like these, we are all being called to step out of our comfort zones – and maybe, some of the time, way out.

Attending a rally could be out of your comfort zone , but you may feel called to come to the  Asheville Federal Building on Tuesday afternoons.  Waving a sign may feel even more like you’re “looking for trouble”, but maybe you could make a sign about love.  Getting in front of the rally group and giving a ten-minute talk may feel scary, but maybe you are the person in the group who knows the most about climate change.

Joining your church social justice team may be out of your comfort zone.  Participating in that team’s Facebook page may feel even more like you are outing yourself.  Standing in front of the congregation with this team to have your work blessed may be excruciating – and may be just right for you at that particular time.

I’ve never been arrested for a sit-in – or for anything actually.  I just missed the window for the civil rights movement: I was a little too young, a little too green, a little too  Midwestern.  In my freshman year at my  junior college, one day our Greek instructor said, “I won’t be here next week  – I’m going to Selma.  You should too.”  But none of us was ready.selma

I keep having this vision that I’m going to get arrested this year.  I don’t know how or why or where, but it feels like a for-sure thing.  Our Resist Trump Tuesday rallies at the Federal Building are totally legal, totally safe – “Bring the kids”.  The federal security guards are “just here to protect you. If anybody gives you a hard time, get us.”  And mostly, aside from the occasional extended middle finger from a passing car, nobody does give us a hard time.

About three weeks ago, I read in a local newsletter that there would be information forthcoming about civil disobedience training.  I knew I was meant to go, but before I knew it the training had been announced and filled.  This morning I heard there was still a spot – Sunday afternoon.  But I really like the Mardi Gras parade in downtown Asheville at 3 p.m.  And I have a notion of a woman I want to invite.mardi-gras

So, obviously, I am not a movement hero.  My motivations are not pure.  I’m pretty human.  But it did not take long for my real calling to assert itself.   How long would it be before there would be another such training? With an illegal sit-in, civil disobedience training may make the difference between discomfort and terror.  And then sometimes, depending on how undisciplined are the police, it might still be terrifying – and even then you might still be in the right place at the right time.  And even when it’s scary, following our calling can be thrilling.

The Trumpites are not going to go easily.  These totally legal, totally safe rallies are great at this moment in time – but the time may come for breaking the law.

If the right next step outside of your comfort zone is to attend a rally, call me.  If giving a speech is scary but you think you are probably ready, I could be a good ally.  If you want to go to civil disobedience training, I’ve got the woman’s name.  If you want a sit-in buddy and think I could be it, let’s talk.  Whether it’s a sit-in at the EPA or handcuffing myself to a Latino neighbor being swept up for deportation, I want to be ready for the act that is maybe scary but maybe still right.

When love leads to resistance

A few weeks ago, I was out dancing with my friend Susan and her friend Lucy that I had never met.  I have a sloppy habit these days of assuming, when I am out among friends, that we are all on the same page regarding Trump.  I was about to be reminded of the limits of this assumption.

Lucy said, “I voted for Hillary, but now I figure we should give Trump a chance.  As long as he doesn’t take away my Medicare and Social Security, he’s OK with me.  I don’t care what he does about the environment and all that other stuff.”

People won’t be moved to resistance when they have a very tight little understanding of who they are and what’s important.  “If he’s not messing with my benefits, the hell with everybody else.” In Lucy’s case, her circle of importance was drawn so small that she would end up with no planet to live on.  amanda

About thirty years ago, at a period when I had no political or social action commitments, my ex-wife – mother of my son – got involved in the “sanctuary movement”, the effort to provide safe-haven to Latino people fleeing political oppression in Central American countries like Guatemala.  My response was not sympathetic.  While I never said this to her, my stance was, “Sandy, Sandy, Sandy – why?  We have problems enough right here at home.  We have a child to raise.  We have jobs to work.  This is not our  problem.”

A few months later, for some reason I cannot remember – just that I desperately needed this – I started reading a book about the “disappeared” in Guatemala, including very graphic pictures of the brutalized bodies of young men who had turned up dead.  Somewhere about halfway through that book I began to weep.  My hardened heart was melting.  “They” were becoming “we”.

Not much later, I was involved in a church social justice team and had a Guatemalan refugee family living with me.  They were an amazingly strong, sweet, beautiful family from whom I learned a tremendous lot.   Six months later – with a lot of help from the church group – Margarito was working in a factory, Maria was cleaning houses, and Adolpho and Regina were in school.  They took an apartment with his brother and family – and I missed them.  The situation did not arise in my life to move towards resistance for them or for Guatemalan refugees as a group, but I think I would have been ready.

sanctuary-citiesWe can be moved to resistance out of self-interest and anger or out of hatred for Trump.  Or we can be moved by love.  We can storm the airports after Trump writes the Muslim ban because we love the people whose lives are being disrupted.  We can take people into our homes when ICE is trying to sweep them up because they feel more like we than they.  When we rally in front of the Federal Building every Tuesday with our “NO BAN, NO WALL” and “WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS” signs, we can do it out of anger or out of love.

When we do our resistance, we can do it for ourselves or for our children and grandchildren.  This may be especially true for environmental issues – what kind of planet are we leaving them?  But it’s really true of all our resistance activities.  Do we want our children and grandchildren to live in/grow up in a country where people are oppressed for their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender?  Our work will have one kind of spin if we do it out of our personal values – great.  But if, in addition to that values piece, we do it out of love for the oppressed, even better.  And if we add on to that our love for our children and grandchildren – our desire for them to inherit a good world – then our resistance will be fully infused with love.care-for-the-most-vulnerable

 

 

 

Who’s the leader here?

When people arrive at the Federal Building for their first Tuesday rally, they often ask who’s in charge.  When the TV news crew arrived on Tuesday night, they right away asked the same thing. WLOS I knew after I had been interviewed that I hoped my footage wouldn’t be used.  That sweet young reporter asked tough questions!  And I didn’t have great answers.  I haven’t been calling, emailing and post carding anywhere near as much as some other people in the group.  I was mightily relieved, when I saw the story today, that my interview had been cut.  Some of the people who did make the cut were very eloquent, very dynamic, very touching.

Some people lead by the signs they make – those signs can have tremendous power, can change the dynamic of the rally.  equity-for-allSome people lead by starting a chant.  That injects tremendous energy.  Some people lead by the conversations they have during the rally.  They instruct, they encourage, they cheerlead.

Some people lead by what they post on the Facebook page. Facebook event page  They post the signs they intend to bring.  They offer some guidance about how we should keep going.  They may share their experience of the rally with others.

Anna led the other day by asking me how she could help me.  She said we need not to burn me out.  She was taking leadership – asking the leader to step outside of his comfort zone by receiving help. I said it would be great if she wanted to word process the email list.

Anna
Anna

She was happy to do it – and I was greatly relieved to have the help.  Another labor-intensive task that I have been happy to do, but don’t even know if it serves enough of a purpose, is posting photos from the rallies, Rally photos  Let me know if this is a function you value.  I love the photos and like that they are up there, but I may be the only one – and I honestly am not willing to keep doing it.

If we’re going to stop Trump, each of will need to step outside of our comfort zones.  Each of us will need to lead – maybe in ways we never have.

I choose you

I went to Ash Devine’s concert last night, “Songs of Love and Revolution.”  It lived up to its name: there was lots of love and lots of revolution.

But for me the biggest highlight of the evening was a song that Ash obviously values a lot, too, because she features it on her web site. Here’s the song: I Chose You.   Half-way through the song, she shifts from “I chose you” to “Life chose you”.  This is where it gets really juicy for me.ash

Ash has obviously paid attention to where life has chosen her.  She has surrendered herself to her music – the writing of it, the recording, the performing.  She has pursued healing clown work internationally.  Her clown colleague Charlotte said to me last night during the intermission that the radical part of that work is that you meet people on a deeper, more unvarnished way than people usually meet – and that you are doing it cross-culturally, with some undervalued and under-supported people.

Ellen Rubenstein Chelmis let life choose her to launch these rallies.  ellenIt was not her natural skillset.  Lots within her resisted the role.  But she didn’t see anyone else coming forward to do it – no one did for the first week of the national roll-out.  So at 10:30 p.m. on the second Monday she went into the MoveOn system and registered a 3 p.m. Tuesday rally.  The next day was full of stressful activities to make the rally happen.  She skipped breakfast.  She got a headache from not having her daily coffee.  She threw her shoulder out from carrying a big heavy table over to the rally site.  But she did it.  Forty-five people came. She knew that it wasn’t going to work for her to do this every week, but she let life choose her for the first week.

When I arrived at that Tuesday rally, I knew that I needed some greater political involvement to work against what I see as very destructive forces afoot in our country.  So when I met Ellen and she very quickly told me that she was looking for somebody to take over organizing the rallies, I recognized this as a calling – life was choosing me.  majo-pussy-powerI actually do have some of the needed skill set.  I worked for many years in organization development, specializing in team development and management coaching.  Before that, I worked for 20 years as a clinical psychologist – helping people to develop and groups to function more effectively.

I also am a writer – who for the last many months have been lacking a project.  The day after I agreed to organize the rallies, I had a shock of recognition around writing – this is it!  I’ll write a blog about our rallies.  And that previous day, our first day of rallies, I was handed the theme of the blog.  When some friends objected to the title of the rallies – they didn’t like the “resist” in “Resist Trump” – I knew that we needed to integrate “Resistance, peace and love”, that maybe the whole movement needs to do that.

It’s not all a slam-dunk for me – and sometimes I just plain think I can’t do it. While I only work part-time and I don’t have family responsibilities pulling at me, time management is a chronic issue for me and I tend to feel that I don’t have enough time.  I’m a natural networker, but I feel intimidated by the panoply of social and political change groups in this town – mostly led by people with greater activist credentials than myself.  I’m not always good at asking for help and may burn myself out.  And I share with maybe most activists an occasional despair about any of this making a difference.  Yet, bottom-line I keep coming back to a powerful felt sense that I have been chosen to do this..

How about you?  What is life choosing you to do?

  • Did it choose you to go to the Women’s March here in Asheville or in Washington?
  • Is it choosing you to go to the Tuesday rallies?  To make signs for the rallies – a huge contribution?  To promote these rallies to your friends? Tuesday rallies
  • Is it choosing you to read this blog?  To build community among us by writing comments?  By writing guest posts?
  • Is it choosing you to write letters or postcards to your legislators?  To make calls to them?

When life chooses us to do something, there may be a shock of recognition – we know it’s right.  There may be a sense of relief – we don’t need to keep looking.  There may be a sense of overwhelm – “This is too much for me.”  There may be a feeling that we don’t deserve it, that we’re not good enough for it.

Yet when we surrender to who we really are, to what life is calling us to do, life can get easier (even as we are moving mountains), more satisfying, happier.  I intend to frequently listen to Ash’s song (link above) and to talk with my friends about how we each are being called.  Some of that conversation can happen right in these pages.  See if you are called to write something.

It’s ineluctable

I was determined to go to Barbara Brady’s workshop, Post-election Fuel for Positive Transformation. It sounded like just what I needed for my own healing from our recent election – and to focus on what I do next.  But I also heard about a couple other activities happening the same evening and was honestly a little confused about what to do.  But Barbara felt like my real commitment, so I sent her a Facebook note in which I said, “It’s ineluctable.  I don’t actually know what that word means and I’m too tired right now to look it up, but I think it means I’m coming.”  When I saw Barbara at church a couple of days later, she said that ineluctable meant that I’m definitely coming.

But the morning of the workshop, a customer of mine (I’m a cashier at Earth Fare grocery store) said that the Indivisible meeting that night was going to be a large, exciting gathering – indispensable for a political activist in this town.  I felt myself getting woozy.  He said he would email me some information and I said I would pull it up on my phone at my lunch time.

When I did pull the info up, I discovered that the meeting only ran ’til seven p.m.  I didn’t get off work until six, so I would make it for only the last half-hour of the meeting.  I felt a wave of disappointment, then heard the words, “It’s ineluctable.”  It can’t be avoided.  It’s meant to be.  There’s no mistake here, no loss, no carnage.  It’s alright.  It is good.  I got happy about going to Barbara’s workshop.

That happiness about Barbara’s workshop lasted about 40 minutes into the workshop.  I was enjoying the conversation, finding it valuable, being interested in the six other people there.  Then, out of the blue, I started thinking about the Indivisible gathering.  Just how large was it?  It might have been a great opportunity to promote our Tuesday Resist Trump rallies.  Had I made a mistake by not going?

This internal warfare went on for about five minutes, then my mantra returned.  “It’s ineluctable.”  What is happening was unavoidable – I’m in the right place at the right time.”  I was fine again.amy-cover-photo-for-evnt-page

When, the next day, I heard that there had been four hundred people at the Indivisible meeting, I was really happy that something was going on with so much vitality.  I found myself looking forward to finding the right ways to connect with that energy.  And I felt essentially no loss around not being there.

As an activist in a time when so much action is happening, there will be inevitable conflicts about how I invest my time.  Even in my social life this is true.  I think it was kind of helpful that I missed out on such a huge, dynamic meeting.  If missing that could be OK, then all manner of things I don’t do could be alright.

 

Born To Be Wild

(I wrote these words standing on the side of my ecstatic dance session, to be delivered at our afternoon Resist Trump Tuesday rally.  But the bullhorn never arrived at the rally and it never made sense to try to shout over the wind and the traffic noise.  So these words will find some life here, with you.)

Most Sundays I attend the Jubilee Community Church – a funky, very liberal, wildly non-denominational group with a Christian heart.  Howard Hanger, the minister, says that he doesn’t call himself Christian because he doesn’t like the things that Christians do in the name of their religion – but that he is a lover of Jesus.  Howard is a jazz pianist and loves good music as part of the service – including lots of music you would not expect in church.

But this last Sunday morning (two days ago) “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf rocked a little hard even for Jubilee.  I loved it and kept chuckling, “We sang Born To Be Wild”! – even though we did only an adequate job of singing it.  This morning (two days later) at Susan Campbell’s ecstatic dance session, she also played the same song!  Rock and roll is almost as rare in the local ecstatic dance scene as in the typical Christian church. I got kind of wild on the dance floor – many or most of us did.  I got happy.jumping

There’s something here for us at our rally.  We can get angry sometimes about what is going on in our country – there’s a place for that.  But we need to not let ourselves get submerged in fear.  We are not meant to be frozen in fear.  We are born to be wild – unrestrained, not to be stopped.  Like Jesus and so many of the other great prophets, we are meant to be unintimidated by the powers that be – to resist: “You may not go here.”resist

The first several times I said that last line – even under my breath on the dance floor – I wept.  

Sweet Peace

Peace, sweet peace – where have you gone?
When I look across this great country of ours
Sometimes I cannot find you
When I look inside this vast garden that is me
Sometimes I cannot find you
Back in November, our hopes for peace
Were suddenly and violently snatched from us
And it seems that the shreds of peace left
Have grown more tenuous every day
Foreigners have been made into enemies
Mexicans, our neighbors, have been made into enemies
The press have been made into enemies

Yet there have been moments
of peace and joy and love and happiness
The Women’s March brought us together
In our separate cities
There were our hero sisters who went to Washington
That vast sea of protest and love and fun
Mardi Gras meets protest
And here in Asheville
Ten thousand strong
With our awesome, creative, angry, funny signs
And our sweet pussy hats
Halfway through the march
Patte Vandenberg gave her hat to me
Yes I did for a moment hesitate
But then I snatched it
And wore it proudly and with some merriment

We knew that something important was happening
And that it would not go away after the march
And so it has not
Every time one of us picks up the phone and makes a call
We join in with thousands of brothers and sisters doing the same
The same when we write our postcards
Every time a few of us come together
At a senator’s office or federal building or city hall
To call out for peace and justice
The world becomes more peaceful
Jesus said, when a few of you gather in my name
We bring down the energy of love

Our work is to take to the barricades
Our work is to get arrested when that is our calling
Our work is to sit in and block traffic
And to be very, very noisy
To resist evil is a form of love
We will give “no!” a good name
Without some good, solid no’s
Our yes’s have no meaning
No integrity
To resist is to take a stand
To stand for something
To stand in their way
To stand up to Trump
Stand tall
Rise up
Be proud of who you are
Oh, no they can’t take that away from me
Don’t touch her
Mess with him and you mess with me
Rise up
Say it with me
Rise up
Say it again
Rise up
One last time
Rise up

And so yes, even more than resistance
Our work is to love
Our work is to create peace within ourselves
And then radiate peace to each other
To hug – long sweet tender hugs
To rub each other’s backs
To hold each other while we cry
To love ourselves
To hold our own self tenderly
Like the frightened little child we sometimes are within
If we love ourselves and each other enough
Then when we are lucky
Along with our outrage, our resistance
Out will pour love
First for our people
But then also for their people
Who are certainly suffering too
Even for their leaders
Who are so wrong-headed
Sometimes so full of hate
That they get very dangerous and must be stopped
But then also very, very human
Misguided, wrong-headed, dangerous, destructive
Flawed, lost, hurting human beings

And so tonight
Like the Women’s March
Let us have this be an oasis
A milestone
A touchstone
That feeds us in the work
Let us love ourselves
Take in this music to feed our souls
Let us love each other
Share delicious hugs
Look deep in each other’s eyes
And carry on
Carry on
Love is comin’