The only hopelessness is in giving up.
The only hopelessness is in saying we are defeated.
The only hopelessness is in the refusal to take back and claim our power.
You are powerful. I see you.
You are beautiful. I see you.
You are terrified. I see you.
You weep, and wail, and take to your bed, and take the streets and hug and rail.
And then you take a breath.
And you take some time.
And you find all of the things that help you not despair, or not get stuck in eternal rage.
And you ask yourself, “What are my skills?”
And you ask yourself, “What are my talents?”
And you ask yourself, “What do I need to learn?”
And you ask yourself, “How can I be of service, in this moment, to this time?”
And then you look around and ask, “Where can I plug in?” or “How can I help organize?”
Use what you have –time, energy, and skill– and figure out three possible ways to offer that.
Do some research. Ponder.
Then pick one of those three things. Any thing. Not the perfect thing. Not the exact right thing. Pick one thing and try it for awhile. And learn how to control your ego so you don’t step back so far you disappear and you don’t step so far forward that everything becomes about your needs and your ideas. There are many practices that help with that. If you don’t already have one, find one. Meditation. Martial arts. Prayer.
And pay attention.
Black and brown and Native and trans and queer people have been telling the rest of us: these systems do not serve us, nor do they make us safe. Those of us who have not paid attention before? We need to say, “I’m so sorry I didn’t hear or see or comprehend you. I’m going to literally throw cold water in my face each morning and remind myself to pay attention now.” And “I will educate myself from the rich writings and resources available in my communities or in the library and the internet.”
Then we figure out how we can actively be of service to those who need us most (and sometimes that includes ourselves and our families). And we commit to it.
We figure out what solidarity means. Then work on making that possible.
People need food.
People need beauty.
People need skills.
People need care and protection.
People need to find ways to show up.
How can you help? How can we help?
Black resistance matters. Native resistance matters. Latinx resistance matters. Asian resistance matters. Trans resistance matters. Queer resistance matters. Immigrant resistance matters. Disabled resistance matters. Muslim resistance matters…
Your resistance matters.
What do you want to build? Figure it out. Ask your friends. Pray. Strategize. Train.
Include longevity in your strategies. How do we build-in self care, and rest, and breaks, and laughter, and music, and paying the bills, and sharing food and art? How do we get and remain as healthy as our particular bodies and psyches and families can be?
How do we say to our comrades, “I need a break, can you shoulder this for the week?”
How do we say to our cohort, “This feels like a problem, can we talk about it and figure it out?”
How do we say, “I’ve got energy right now, let me be useful.” Or, “I’ve got these skills to share.”
Movements sometimes get crushed and sometimes fail. They fail because of burnout or ego clash or other life events crashing in.
They do not have to fail or fizzle. And when attempts to crush them come –as they always do– we can recognize them and re-organize.
We can create interlocking avenues of support and resistance. We can create interlocking avenues to build what we desire.
So, after the initial assessment of “what can I do and how do I plug in?” we all must ask, “how do we build a living, flexible system that can grow and change with us, over time?”
It won’t be easy. But the alternative is to sink back into complacency, or hopelessness, or disinterest, or despair.
Please don’t do that. Keep finding ways to re-engage.
Don’t look for a savior. Don’t look to be a savior.
We need every one of us to do this. And those of us in relative positions of privilege need to listen to those who have been more marginalized. They have the most necessary input of all: how to live, survive, and thrive under systems that are hell bent on crushing individuals and communities. And how to continue to love, even in the midst of that.
We need love right now. We need resilience. We need wisdom from avenues we’ve never even thought to seek it from.
We need each other.
Please stick around.
T. Thorn Coyle, November, 2016
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