So far, I'm not a huge fan of Novemebr 2016. Well, with exceptions. Chaya is always the exception (even as she bashes her bunnies together and likely leaps about in her own ever-redolent poopies at 5 a.m. in the morning).
She started walking with assertiveness the day after election day. She continues to grow by leaps, bounds, and many eeny weeny tantrums-turned-giggles. A little sprig of spring in the deepest snows, perhaps.
But otherwise, the 2016 slate of deaths keep coming. Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Prince, and now Chaya's Great Grandfather Wright. And others near me have had misfortunes ranging from losses of children to putting down beloved family pets, to break ups of longterm relationships, to bad friggin' hair days.
And yeah, our nation is a bit in a roil right now. Reported hate crimes are up. Protesters are mixing peaceful with not-so-peaceful. Families aren't super thrilled with each other right now.
I guess we truly and strongly need this holiday season. I hope we can suspend our squabbles over the proper décor for our $10 pumpkin banana spiced coconut gingerbread lattes and put the Christ back in Christmas by rallying together to love the least lovable, help the less advantaged, wash the feet of sinners etc. And yeah, that's the most self-sanctimonious sentence I'll utter here. I'm directing it at myself more than anyone.
But right now, I'm thinking about 2017. And how I will take it by the horns and wrestle with the dour foreboding that shuffles under 2016's little staggers. Politically speaking in particular.
It's not exactly Morning in America. Maybe like that weird time around 4 a.m. when you wake up to use the bathroom, and everything seems strange, but you just can't go back to sleep. Yeah, I don't know if it's merely 'our turn' or if Trump's ascendency is as unprecedented as it feels. I am constantly uncertain, and having a Gaslighter in Chief doesn't really help avoid normalizing, feeling outrage fatigue, and remember how easy it was to dismiss the anti-Obama hyperbole once upon a time. We all have our own foundational beginnings. All have our own news sources and echo chambers. It's a time of shifting sand and fears upon fears.
But I know I've been (West) coasting on my progressive happy-dappy liberalism for far too long. I know that I want to make the world a better place - or at least preserve what's so great about it - for my little Beastie. And for everyone, really, but she's the embodiment of that visceral urge. Even as I continue to withdraw into my familial cocoon. People are scared of losing so much. People have so little already. Yet, I have so much. Regardless of the White House, I am of an age to know I have not given back nearly enough.
I frankly don't rightly know what I *can* do. I'm not the kind who attends meetings and protests. They take so much out of me that I'm fairly useless. I have a voice and I write well, but is yodeling through my personal echo chamber particularly helpful? I can sign petitions even. And if it ever actually came to it, I'd register as Muslim etc. Still I'm skeptical and cynical of the tangible actions I could take in the short term, beyond donating money. And my time and energy feels so limited for volunteering. I hope to expand from that cocoon, but not so quickly. It's a balance of honoring myself by embracing my limits, and honoring myself by fighting for what I believe in.
I'm still figuring that balance out. But regardless, I will not let go. I will not embrace complacency. I will also not pretend that pestering my friends and family counts as activism.
But regardless of how my role pans out, I will bind myself to these principles first and foremost.
1. I will remain informed. I will not hyperbolize. I will know what I'm fighting before I shout out the battle-cry. I will check my news stories. I will struggle with the nuances behind the headlines. I will not assume a small instance can be projected to an entire movement - as I consider sample sizes, cause/correlation, and confounding factors.
2. I will not dismiss information that triggers my cognitive dissonance, regardless of the tenor with which that information is presented. I will check sources, listen before I shout, and reflect. I will accept that I do not have to sacrifice my ethical stances by considering those that conflict with mine.
3. I will act with respect. Whether or not somebody else has "earned" my respect is beside the point. It is about who I am as a person. It is about creating a space for the other to live up to that respect instead of shutting down the chance before we begin. And if that other does not, then that is on them.
4. In regards to those in power - and all people - I will continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I recognize that hope for better behavior in the future does not require me to cede my demand that their past misdoings be addressed.
5. I will respect my emotions as real and valid... as emotions. I will shout and rail and let off steam with many much needed laughs. But what defines me as a person is what I do with those feelings. I have a cerebral cortex. I will use it.
6. I will act from a space of love and respect, but I will hold people responsible for their actions. I will not allow a slow trickle carve a canyon.
7. I will step out of my comfort zone and use my privileges/fortunes to help those who are not as fortunate as me. I will hold myself accountable, while also recognizing my own limitations.
8. I do not have to assume the moral high ground to act on what I believe is right. I will stand firm but still look for common ground.
9. Belittling those opposed to me only blinds me. It does not prevent them from doing harm, and in fact enables them to do so more effectively.
10. I will embrace raindrops on roses, remember the amazing good that people are doing every day, and remember that despair and despondency will do nothing. I will see the good that we, all of us, are capable of and will rejoice in that, even while protecting against the bad in all of us. I will recognize that progress is slow and full of set-backs.
And of course, there will be baby photos and maybe even cute kitties. Because 2017 demands them. And who am I to resist?