The last couple of weeks I spent time thinking, worrying, and writing about the threatened neo-Nazi march in Whitefish, Montana. Part of my concern is for the targeted Jews there, and part for how the uninhibited neo-Nazi threat represents the new, more mean-spirited and increasingly dangerous America.
Every day there is regular life to be lived. Every day there are the ups and downs, the worried and joy-filled moments, the mundane, perfectly ok happenings of life — cooking, cleaning, brushing teeth, weeding, taking out the garbage… As if life really hasn’t changed that much. A false sense of “normalcy”. The moments where it doesn’t feel like we’re on the brink of terrible and potentially devastating news.
Then one wakes up again. Oh yes, this life. THIS January 2017. THIS departure of Obama from the Presidency. THIS upcoming inauguration. Reports of this new random and horrible tweet. THIS new appointment or next mind-bogglingly perverted statement from Ryan or McConnell, or some other Republican nut-case, or the nefarious Vice-President-to-be, the wholly wretched Pence. THIS perfectly wretched and revealing first press conference.
And always there is that question in one’s mind. What can we do? What can I do? Even if it’s not a huge act, what’s the small thing I can do? How can I not get lulled into the “normalizing” of the new reality, the despair and/or cynical anger that is everywhere? I AM angry and scared. I’m not interested in clever rejoinder, or joining the fray of a short-lived satisfaction of a tantrum thrown, though I have a million tantrums in me that tell me they want out. I am trying to be an adult here. (Age obviously doesn’t guarantee adulthood. Witness the man-child “President-elect”).
I’m signing more petitions than I have signed in a lifetime of activism. I’m happy to, and to pass them on (on Facebook) and ask people to join me in signing and sharing. I’m happy to do it, because it’s far better than doing nothing. One never knows. Maybe it will help certain messages get heard where they might make a difference? At the same time, it doesn’t feel like enough.
How can we help each other, and help the situation? Stay on track? Not get fatigued? Not give up? Not allow these evil, greed-driven men to continue their economic and social rape and pillage of our vulnerable populations, our nation, other nations, our Mother Earth?
In the old days humans helped each other with barn-raising. But mostly our human civilization has gotten complicated. Especially for most of us who live in or around urban centers, which is most of us. For the most part we no longer raise barns. We live dis-connected from the land (most farms run by agri-business, though it’s important never to forget to appreciate and buy from our local organic farms), and often with hundreds or thousands of miles between us and the people we love. Even those we live close to we seldom see (let alone help) because of our crazy-busy (or just different) schedules.
So what can we do to nurture our sense of connection? To identify our common interests? To ask for help? To offer it?
First of all, I want to say, let yourself be seen. Let yourself be known. Reach out with your own needs. Reach out to help another. Talk about your joy and sorrow. Listen to someone else’s without giving unsolicited advice.
Loneliness is one of the biggest, most hidden issues and cause of major illness and early death in America. Each of us behind our emotional or physical walls. Loneliness is a major health risk.
We need to come out to work and play together. Small actions matter. Take a small step. Do a small action. Invite one person or a few to join in. Then don’t stop. Even if no one says Yay!
Trump is the epitome of where individualism can get you in America. And when America is sick enough, a sick and deplorable person like Trump can get elected to the Presidency. If that isn’t evidence of a sick nation I don’t know what is.
Being this sick is a wake up call. We can ignore bumps and bruises and even a bad cold and still survive quite nicely, but we ignore the threat of Diabetes, Cancer, or other major health issues at our great peril. Personal sickness. Sickness of a nation. Both are wake up calls!!!
We have a lot of work to do. If we each take a step we can create something powerful and beautiful. There are a LOT of us. Our individual small steps connected to the small steps of others will make a difference.
After writing about Whitefish for a couple of weeks, I had not turned my attention there this week. It had fallen off my radar. Then my dear friend, a former Buddhist nun, a profound teacher, writer, activist, Thanissara sent me a message on Facebook. She wrote “not sure if you saw this”, and sent a link to some photos. I clicked on the link, and arrived here. (Don’t miss clicking on these. They’re beautiful and profound).
A lot of people think that Facebook is a negative thing. I know there are issues with Facebook but still, I feel the opposite. Like you, I mostly want to feel more connected with people in real life. To meet for social gathering (tea, celebrations, etc) and to share work — modern day versions of barn-raising. But there’s a lot of valuable connection happening on Facebook too.
The pictures Thanissara sent me are one small example of how this connectedness serves. Because we are FB friends (as well as in real life) Thanissara was aware of my preoccupation with the neo-Nazi threats to the Jewish population in Whitefish. With the short sentence she wrote and the link she sent, a wave of compassion washed over me, inspiring and encouraging me. In the images I saw an entire community coming together to express their care, kindness, and love for a targeted and vulnerable group amongst them. The photos made me cry and encouraged me to be braver and strong and showed me the value of being connected. The idea we have been taught that we can be self-sufficient and individually successful is a hoax. We need each other. In so many ways, at so many points. Now more than ever.
Meryl Streep spoke at the Golden Globe Awards the other night, also addressing this issue of the importance of connection, and of coming together in communities to support each other and those who most need support, who are threatened by this evil (and his minions).
I always love it when you take a moment to connect with me, here, there, or anywhere. Thank you!