176 // We Dissent

I am still reeling from the Supreme Court ruling yesterday. Having had the warning months ago did nothing to soften the blow. I spent much of the evening doomscrolling and falling deeper into despair and as I spiraled, a great terror rose at what I am certain is building on the horizon.

We are returning to a time when women knew their place, when people of color were kept poor and oppressed, and queer people lived in isolation and fear.

It’s happening all around us. Conservative school boards are banning critical race theory. Anti-trans laws are being passed quietly all over the country. The right to protest is slowly being chipped at and the rising cost of living is wringing all sense of possibility and hope from the most vulnerable among us.

Our political leaders either can’t or won’t work for us, and now, the highest court, which has always been a last defense for the minority, is, at last, an arm of the ruling majority.

It’s hard to see a way forward, but there is a lesson to be learned from the other side. We lost sight of something and, in doing so, we left an opening for our oppressors. We forgot the power of community.

When we blamed congress, they attended school board meetings. When they redrew district lines, we looked to the President. When they appointed county judges, we stopped voting. Politics is not a top-down institution, but we have been treating it that way and all the while they went about their work putting people in little and low places that added up year after year.

I think it’s time we got back to learning about our local elected officials. There is a lot of power afforded to mayors, city councils, and school boards. There is an enormous amount that a state legislature and a governor can do. We have to take back our rights county by county. We have to expand those rights state by state and all at once.

It takes showing up more often than every four years. It takes being interested, informed, and involved. It takes caring! Changing hearts means nothing if there isn’t action behind it.

Love and justice are not feelings, they are actions.

177// I Can’t Hide From It

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I’ve been struggling to find the energy, the motivation, the focus, the want to do anything but work and sleep and scroll. Each morning I begin anew, I think, and each afternoon every goal, every plan, every to-do item flies out of my head and I lose hours to the void both growing from inside me and crushing me from without.

Each night I sit with the same mistakes and regrets and make the same promises and threaten the same consequences to myself only to wake the next day and find nothing changed. I thought it was a matter of willpower, but I have none at all to make a stand with. I thought it was the fatigue and though that certainly plays a role; it is not the only thing wrong.

The truth I’m just not myself anymore. In this volatile and rapidly changing world, I have been swept, driven, dragged along so far, and at such speed from who I was—who we all were—that I hardly recognize myself or the world. A lot of what has changed both inside and out has been good. So much gives me hope, but so much has terrified me and broken my heart too.

All that change was too much at once and in the midst of it all, I lost my footing. Now I’m disoriented. I’m ungrounded. I’m unsteady. I’m powerless and immobilized.

Covid-19 has been bad enough, but the constant barrage of vivid suffering and searing anger being broadcast across all platforms and outlets is more than I can process. I’ve tried to escape it. I’ve tried to face it from a place of peace and safety. I’ve tried to segment my anger and pain from my day-to-day life, and I’ve utterly failed.

Last night I read the transcript of Elijah McClain’s arrest last August. I remember this case from the news when it happened, but there was no audio released to the public then. Hearing the pain and fear in this young man’s voice and reading the kind words he spoke to officers even as he struggled to breathe shattered me entirely. I cried for him. I thought of loved ones who look like him, who are different like him, who might one day be stopped by officers for no reason other than for being Black and different just like him. I cried for them too. I cried for all of us. I’m tired. I’m hurt. I’m angry, and still, I am so, so hopeful.

I’ve realized that I can’t hide from the world. I can’t plant my feet and live in an unchanging bubble within the chaos. I’m a citizen of the world and there is no separation between all of it and me. I am made from it and it is made from me, and you, and all of us everywhere and because of that I have a responsibility, if nothing else, to stay connected, to feel with all of you.

To that end I’d like to try again to use my tiny power and platform to say their names, to tell their stories, to shine light where darkness has given rise to cruelty. This is my place to cry, to shout, to argue, to demand, to grow, to change too.

We have to learn to hurt in the open, together. We have to learn to be comfortable with what is uncomfortable. We have to lean into change because the truth is, the faster we change, and the more fiercely we change, the more lives we can save.

Now, I am getting used to change. I am embracing change. I am demanding change. To be part of the world is to accept that each day will carry with it some new happiness, hope, or heartbreak, but this is the joy of being alive, of being human, of healing, and, ultimately, of loving.