Fearless Friday: When Power Fails, Rise Up
It’s been awhile since I wrote a Fearless Friday post. I’ve been waking night after night, plagued by insomnia and have decided to no longer fight it. So here I am, at 3am, trying to figure out a positive, encouraging post to write in the face of what seems a damning political and cultural scene. But life goes on and no matter what happens, so must we.
Welcome to Fearless Friday.
Fearless Fridays are about lives lived in spite of our fears, living a life that is about curiosity, compassion, and courage. If you just got published, something wonderful happened to you, you witnessed an act of kindness or bravery, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share. These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.
Earlier this week, I wrote about becoming radicalized as a moderate woman. In another forum someone suggested that it should have happened much sooner. Once I got over my bristling at the comment, I put some thought into it.
When my daughter was little, she seemed like the slowest person on the planet. I was always the last parent waiting to pick my child up from school. She’d wander about talking to her friends, visiting other teachers, watching other kids putting on their boots and coats instead of putting on her own. We’d need an hour of lead time to leave the house, just so she could finish her conversation with the cat or change her socks. Again. It was often a source of irritation.
It hit me one day, that I’d been very much like her, but in a different way. I was always careful, trying to be prepared and when I was rushed, I would become clumsy and forgetful. And no amount of cajoling, badgering, or yelling would change that. I learned patience. I am still very much like that as an adult. You can’t hurry me along. I am very resistant to external influence and I insist on doing my own research. People arrive when they arrive – just keep the door open for them.
Put a Little Kindness in Your Life
I want to give a shout out to Donna Cameron, whose first book was released this month. A Year of Living Kindly: Choices that Will Change Your Life and the World Around You is a culmination of Donna’s personal experiment to live more kindly. I have enjoyed reading Donna’s blog over the years – it’s one of those online places where you come away with substance. For all my kvetching about social media, it’s important to remember the writers and sites that actually bring something positive to the table. Congrats, Donna – your book is at the top of my reading stack!
Look Away from Power, Nourish Love
Today, I’m finding comfort, as I often do, in the words of James Baldwin. His words strike through me with clarity and precision.
One must say Yes to life, and embrace it wherever it is found – and it is found in terrible places. … For nothing is fixed, forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
James Baldwin, Nothing Personal, 1964
For me, this is a reminder of the impermanence of all things, except for love. No matter what is happening politically or culturally, we must continue to nurture the connections around us in earnest, to find meaning in the mundane. We should not neglect these things in payment to a bigger cause.
Lift Others Up and Be Lifted Up
A couple of days ago I listened to Betty Folliard, founder of ERA Minnesota, speak about the renewed interest in passing the ERA. A large percentage of the population believes it actually passed years ago. It did not. It requires ratification by one more state (Come on Georgia or Virginia – you can do it!). She talked about the history of the ERA and about her experiences working on The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in the United Nations.
She was full of energy and optimism and I sat in the back of the room and thought How do you maintain that in the face of everything happening now? She’s been working for decades on these issues. And there I was, feeling all depressed and grumpy about the whole two years I’d been actively engaged in local politics and voting rights. What a dilettante! I realized that I’d been seeing too many of the schmucks in the news and not paying attention to the leaders and fighters among us right now.
It’s important to identify real leaders. There is a tremendous difference between power and leadership and current events behoove us to know the difference. My goal is to get my ass back up, dig into stories and books that will inspire me, and get on with the business of justice for humans and for our planet. If the fight never ends, it never ends. I still want to be in it.