It doesn’t take long, does it? That moment when we cross the threshold, when what may have left us feeling outraged or sad simply becomes this amusing or interesting little thing that happened. This morning I found myself laughing out loud when I read the headlines. I just don’t know what to do anymore, how to react, how to stop this train wreck. The danger here lies in giving up, in looking at the abundance of absurdity laid before us by this Republican congress and president-elect and shrugging our shoulders.
To be completely honest, I haven’t thought much about Hilary in recent weeks. That’s over. I can’t say I’m thrilled that she and Bill are headed to DC to attend the inauguration, but on some level, I get that she’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. Who I’ve thought about most as the news of the last few weeks unfolds is Chuck Schumer. And Kamala Harris. One seasoned player and one newbie, but both taking a strong stand against the absurdity with the press and on social media.
I read an interesting document last night, one that’s made the rounds lately. It was put together by congressional staffers and is a roadmap for peaceful, respectful resistance through official channels. Bottom line: put your senators and representatives on speed dial. Call them. Don’t email, don’t tweet, call. Speak up. Be specific. Tell them what you want them to do, thank them for their good work, and pin them down on the things you care about. It matters.
I started this blog when I was diagnosed with cancer and I never imagined just two years later I would be writing about my feelings on politics and social issues. But here I am, compelled by a need for greater understanding, for clarity, for hope.
In the book “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, I was struck by his observation, just a few pages in, on how native American civilizations have not been accurately portrayed through history. He writes that the Iroquois, for example, were enlightened and advanced in ways that they are rarely credited with.
“Women were important and respected in Iroquois society…the senior women named the men who represented the clans at village and tribal councils…they tended the crops and took general charge of affairs while the men were always hunting or fishing. And since they supplied the moccasins and food for warring expeditions, they had some control over military matters…[Children] were taught to be independent, not to submit to overbearing authority. They were taught equality in status and the sharing of possessions…” He goes on to write that John Collier, an American scholar who lived among Native Americans in the 1920s and 1930s said of their spirit, “Could we make it our own, there would be an eternally inexhaustible earth and a forever lasting peace.”
An eternally inexhaustible earth and a forever lasting peace. How many times in the history of this nation, in the history of the world, have we missed this opportunity? So much of what is done in the name of progress, of advancing civilization, is done with a heavy hand, with a motive to suppress and push back entire populations, to gain absolute control. Nothing has changed.
It strikes me that this country was built on the backs of people who stood up. People who were present — with all their flaws and missteps — people who chose and continue to choose policies and programs that bring us together, that support our individual rights not at the expense of others, but for the common good. The myth of Thanksgiving is this: the natives welcomed Europeans to this land in the hope that a peaceful co-existence would follow. But human nature being what it is, greed and the desire for personal gain pretty much shot that idea to hell. So much of what was is repeated. The analogies today direct us to look to WWI and WWII to learn our lessons, but the truth is, we need to look back even further.
We are at a crossroad. It was never meant to be one-party rule. Or, even worse, one party rule with a puppet at the helm. As challenging as it may be, one form of recourse is actually very simple: Let your voice be heard. Call your congressmen. Don’t let them off the hook. Praise them for the good they do and call them out for the bad. I know, it’s so much easier to shrug our shoulders and walk away, to let this be someone else’s problem. But we can’t do that. This is too important. We need a sea change, a rising up of our voices, a demand for something better than this. At the very least, we have to support the people who have the power and the access to make a difference.
Maybe then we will find our forever lasting peace.