We will lift each other up.
Despite frequent daily moves into white-hot rage and despair, the sentiment persists. Standing up at airports last night, a week after three million people stood up everywhere. Our national disgrace is not normal, at all, but this consolidation in opposition is like nothing I have ever seen. I say that not as an activist, because I am far from having earned the title, but as someone with eyes.
This goes one of two ways: we get exhausted, which seems to be their strategy (shock and awe, all week. has it only been a week?), or we rise up en masse. I am writing and doing what little I can to push the needle, by a microscopic increment, towards rising up. Spin a web around yourself and it will pull. You wind up on the steps of the capitol, or in an airport holding a sign, or in Jason Lewis' office with your kids, or on the phone, or writing your way into becoming a relay point, an outpost, an amplifier. Resetting an intention to contribute.
When I moved to New York to "make it" as a musician I remember the realization that being a part of the world of making was the end itself, not clawing my way up above it. Now the objective is impact and change, ultimately the removal from power of those for whom power is the only value. But the way that happens is through all of us lifting each other up. The most perfect contribution sees that contribution, that membership, as an end itself. Spin the web and it will pull all of us.
During the election it was typical to say that Trump "kicked the hornets' nest," stirred up not only a whole subculture of sociopaths but also the worst of our own individual impulses, our suspicions and fearfulness, our hate. Wrong hornets. There is a bigger swarm consolidating. Three million of us last weekend and that was only day one. Lift each other up.
That's the name of some new music I am making that is honestly and painfully about what this experience has been for me. Aggressive at the outset, fire burning bright. And then it loses its focus, completely, becomes about something else entirely.
I started this activist project, or re-started it, really (thank you campaign has been around awhile, wearing different masks and occasionally disappearing) and was grateful that my friends seemed to find value in my curation of things to do. On some level I think I thought we'd win early, that this disaster just wouldn't come to pass. And yet. It is still impossible for me to really appreciate that this is actually happening.
So I go catatonic. I simply shut down the awareness and do something else. Start a record label. Make music. Dive into my teaching, my parenting. And yet some little thing can light the fire again. Today it was an email from my new representative, Jason Lewis, a shock-jock turned politician who is indistinguishable in technique and "position" from Trump. He asked his constituents to take a survey so he could harvest email addresses. Check the boxes next to your top legislative priorities, it said. And I couldn't find a single one I could get behind. So I emailed him with my own list. Protect health care, work for social justice, protect reproductive rights, address climate change, address income and wealth inequality, and on and on.
This is not to congratulate myself on doing a thing after a few weeks of doing no things. It's to say that if you are feeling like you've gone back to sleep, maybe despair is unwarranted. Keep your eyes open and do what you can, when you can.
On Tuesday I will join a call with some activists who have been aggressively awake, who are curating actions of their own, and at that point I can figure out what this project is going to be, how I can best be a relay for those efforts and how I can maybe offer a perspective on going through this that will resonate with you all. Today it's about shaking off slumber. Good morning. There's a lot to do and I am going to try to do it inasmuch as I can, when I can, how I can.
Thank You Campaign...
...was a website I built to document my total freakout at the 2016 US presidential election. I've collected the "offerings" section here: short essays, each with an associated image I'd found or a picture I'd taken, documenting a small set of awakenings and a small rising up.