“Every day brings new choices.”~ Martha Beck.
My mother had a special personality. She could be quite harsh, but often didn’t realize how that came across. She was, in fact, a contrarian, not trying to be like others, she never made an effort to fit in. But she had a sense of humor, and could laugh at herself when necessary. Both she and my father were very healthy for most of the nine decades that they lived, only experiencing hospitalizations, illness and injury in their last years. As a patient, my mother could be quite a challenge, although she was aware of the need to be patient, and to ‘behave’. When asked to identify herself she once responded: “Do you want to know who I am, or who I would like to be?”
This question of who we are, is an interesting one. My first best friend (I recently saw someone described that way, and realized how perfect it was) has twice asked me: If you could do anything you wanted, what is it that you would do? Try to imagine your life, if you spent it doing those things you were really passionate about, instead of doing those things expected of you, or earning a living to pay bills, or living for other people. Of course we have many constraints on our time, we have many commitments to keep, and there is also the matter of laws to abide by!
How often do you challenge yourself with deep philosophical questions? How can you live your fullest potential? How can you be the person you are supposed to be, and do your actions support that goal? For it is in the doing of things that we are known. I can be very progressive in my thoughts, I may be sincere in my desire for open borders, for a more tolerant world, but what am I doing to help to achieve that end? I had a school principal who had many famous quotes, one of them was: “What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say!”
These last few weeks in American politics have been interesting, to say the least. We have seen attempts to silence the media, to restrict access to information, and to spread intolerance. But we have also seen outpourings of support for those who are the most vulnerable in society. We have read about protests and acts of kindness. We have seen people being and doing in order to promote a more just society. Some of the attempts to restrict access to information (data which disappeared from government websites) resulted in such an outcry that the data was restored. In another case, a blogger released the same information (on animal abuse) that had been removed from a government website. He had downloaded the information previously, somehow suspecting that it may be needed some day.
The reporter who passed on that information said something which struck me. Even though we all may not be hackers or bloggers, she suggested that we find what we are good at, and do it! You never know when your talent is the one that is needed. And it does not need to be an amazing talent. But we have a choice in how we respond to our current state of affairs. It was Victor Frankl (a man who survived the concentration camp, and the loss of most of his family) who wrote that the one choice that cannot be taken away from us is the choice of our attitude. We can choose how we respond to life’s challenges.
Cations are substances which when dissolved in water take on a positive charge. It is easy to pass on negativity, to circulate information which may be false, misleading, and downright alarming. Many of us spend a lot of time on social media, saturating our brains with disturbing images and titillating stories. But do we choose what we share? When we watch and discuss distressing (and possibly untrue) stories, do we not become a part of the problem? With choice comes responsibility. Like dropping a pebble in a still pool, we may cause ripples which spread far beyond our intentions. What are we doing? Who are we being?
I was privileged to learn from a Wise Woman, who has been an activist and an agent of positive change for many years. Peggy L. Chinn co-wrote a book entitled ‘Peace and Power’ (among many others) and has long advocated for those who are vulnerable. I am going to share her ‘guidelines for resistance’, 10 suggestions of ways to ‘do’ something in the face of negativity:
- Don’t use the name of the new President, and do not repeat his tweets.
2. Remember this is a regime and he’s not acting alone;
3. Do not argue with those who support him–it doesn’t work;
4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk
7. Support artists and the arts
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it.
9. Take care of yourselves; and
On this beautiful Friday morning, I hope you can be a Cation for change, staying positive despite feeling as if you are underwater. I hope that wherever you are you are safe and warm, with all that you need to be able to face the day. I hope you can be whoever you want to be, and do whatever brings you joy, so that you can spread happiness to light the dark corners of our world.
Have a wonderful weekend Family!
Thank you Beth for another wonderful post – and so grateful to you for passing along this very “doable” and inspiring list of things we all can do. I took it from a George Lakoff post, who is providing wonderful insights about the situation we are in politically and what we can all do about it! Here is one of his latest, which re-emphasizes the list I shared: https://georgelakoff.com/2017/02/10/ten-points-for-democracy-activists/
Thanks Peggy! It is good that we have strong, experienced leaders who can keep us focused. I particularly like your reference to art and artists (the truth illuminators) and the reminder to care for self. Peace!
Just found the list being circulated by Bernice King (I believe she is one of MLK Jr’s children)! She has amended item 1, but otherwise it is the same!
The plot thickens: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/02/08/a-word-of-advice-from-martin-luther-king-jr-s-daughter-resist/?utm_term=.adfcba02012e