No matter how much you'd like to
I think a lot about this: “My constant irritability and indignation are symptoms of my failure to meet the world where it is instead of where I wish it was, or am working to push it.” I think a lot about whether I’m going to war on my quest for peace. Thank you for all this food for thought and extremely honest, tender and vulnerable essay.
Good food for thought, as usual, Chris. I berate myself because I'm an armchair activist. I've become crowd averse, even more so since COVID. But I've never been a joiner. Like you, I'll try things for a while, till I get a glimpse at what's under the hood. Then I get disillusioned. But I certainly agree with this:
It is going to take everyone setting aside our differences and coming together for the common good to make any significant changes in how this corrupt human society operates.
That is the reason that a shun all ends of the extreme. We can't compromise if we hold to our own, usually very personal lines in the sand.
None of this is easy. I think the whole damn planet is doomed, to be honest.
radicalization may be one of the most hopeful words I know.
This did not go where I thought it was going - and what a blessing. When I got to this, I just started crying: "I want to facilitate, in some small way, a mutual journey toward meaning; to decrease the dimensions of our emptiness and draw us closer to love and to beauty."
I've been struggling this week with the question that constantly haunts me. Am I doing "enough"? Am I guilty of "fiddling while Rome burns" or am I doing something to move the world in a meaningful way? And honestly, I don't know the answer from day to day. I've been trying to find some sense of meaning and purpose in what I'm doing, even as I know it's the only thing I can do or know to do. That statement makes me cry from the idea that maybe, just maybe, yeah, maybe I am doing something at least a little worthwhile.
Thank you so much Chris.
(And my Ada Lemon and Joy Harjo poetry books just arrived too! They are sitting with my One Sentence Journal book, which I open every few days for inspiration. I've actually started journaling different because of your book.)
Chris, I think you're advocating and organizing via this newsletter, whether you realize it or not and despite having no intention to do so. You have like-minded "followers" here, even if we're a bunch of irritable misfits. You encourage us to think and to act. Keep on writing (that is, advocating ;-) I'll keep following.
You are spot on with this post Chris. Thank you for this wisdom. I admit, I bail out of any activist group/practice because of my own what I call 'reverse class prejudice'. I think focusing on the bigger goals and looking beyond my own judgements might allow me to work with the world rather in rebellion with it. I have deep set disgust for institutions and authority, but like you pointed not all members if institutions are malignant. People are often good and if we stop believing in that, the whole point of fighting against oppression and injustice seems rather vague.
That being said, I still think a writer like you, carries a huge weight on their shoulders to present the world as it and you do it fascinatingly well. We are still making changes by nudging subconscious of our readers, by tweaking their perspective. I agree to the last bit of advice on being more tolerant.
Thank you for this eye-opening piece. Stay blessed!
The artist, who I also love, is Gary Bunt. Each painting on IG is accompanied by a four line or so short poem that adds some irony to this post, and to the question about why the left is less likely than the right to rally around a faith based idea, or maybe the question is about why a faith based idea is easier to rally around than a principle, like justice or fairness, or even why faith and principle are two different things to even speak of. I don't know. Today, I'm ignoring politics and wondering about Cooper's hawks. We had a nest and now we have a fledged youngster who cries when circling above.
I've been reading through comments and wondering what it would look like to organize all the people who are resonating with this post and who are also frustrated with the organizations that currently exist. Might we create a different kind of culture, one with more room for kindness and beauty, one more immune to the seducations of ego and power and wealth? It's what I think religion should be for and yet so seldom is.
The class thing gets me, too. So many rich white people who wanna play savior. The Barry Lopez observation about indigenous people, hunters, who when faced with a problem, got together and shared their experiences, and then used them all so that *no one was left behind* was revelatory. Westerners want a hero. Solutions will not come from one angry loud man. To save all we can, we will need to work together, and not try to be the hero.
The only thing I can do lately is text-banking. And I can't listen to much speechifying, even from candidates I like and support. I listen to what other people are doing and feel encouraged by that.
I also try to remember, sometimes, that the women's right to vote campaign (yes, problematic in many ways), had two factions that HATED each other with passion, but it still worked in the end.
Once again, thank you for putting your vulnerable and honest self out there for us. And I agree with what other folks have shared already--that your perspectives are a form of activism. "Nudging" is power and influence, when you get right down to it, and given that you send these newsletters every week, that's a much deeper type of connection.
Thank you. This is a profound comment on lesser inability of those on the broad left to band together as we see those on the right doing so. Every point resonated. I am in Australia and this afflicts us just as much. Your honesty in nominating those three areas in which you declined to participate is powerful: 'To say I carry chips on my shoulders would be a titanic understatement. I’m not proud of it but saying otherwise wouldn’t be true. I am a seething cauldron of my own biases and prejudices that I have to fight to overcome every single day.' I have often wondered what it is about the left that makes us suspicious of potential allies, or quick to see flaws in a shared vision or purpose. I think that we are driven by a deep seated ideology that the world, and we, and by extension, you, can be better instead of 'good enough', 'close enough'. I wonder what it says about our acceptance of others though. Thank you again. When we acknowledge these things, we can move on.
I loved this, and the excuses were... highly relatable. Was just talking to someone about how finding community and volunteering for things is almost inevitably uncomfortable to some extent, but ultimately worthwhile and more people need to be both warned and encouraged about that initial feeling.
"The White Liberal's Burden"
Eve Fairbanks / The Atlantic
"Nobody likes to play the victim like White South Africans," who have "never faced full reckoning for apartheid."
"Why did admitting past sins seem to become even harder even as their sins receded into history?"
"My White South African friend just couldn't forgive Black people for forgiving him. He said, 'It is infinitely worse to receive rather than to give, especially if... that gift is mercy."'
“Listen more, talk less.” This has been presented to me quite often lately, so, I shall pay attention.
And, that image at post’s end….. gosh.
Thank you once again for your thoughtful exploration of what we all can aim for in this world of ours. Everything counts, kindness especially to self and others.