To Those Who Refuse the Call
“You swore allegiance to House Stark, Lord Glover. But in their hour of greatest need you refused the call. And you, Lord Cerwyn, your father was skinned alive by Ramsay Bolton. Still, you refused the call. But House Mormont remembers. The North remembers.”
Lyanna Mormont, the 10-year-old ruler of House Mormont, stood within a group of lords twice her size and dressed them down in a rousing speech that helped close the season finale of Game of Thrones. In their darkest hour, it was a child who had the courage to rise and challenge those who had allowed evil to sweep through The North.
In this hour of darkness I’m amazed that lethargy can still find the oxygen to survive. What Martin Luther King Jr. described as the “silence of our friends”, specifically those who stand directly in harm’s way, is staggering as the reality of our current predicament continues to reveal that there is no “higher power” within a government of we the people, and the only thing that stands between us and ruin is our unity.
Whether you believe we’re in the growing pains of a new administration or that things aren’t as bad as the media is portraying them, there are red flags every day: attacks on the media, squashing of dissent, and total silence toward acts of violence and corruption. What we’re seeing only has precedent in stories with unhappy endings.
Reality Check: Donald Trump’s administration isn’t a lottery ticket and America doesn’t have a God machine to save you.
I frequently hear those on the fence embrace hope that the chaos of Trump’s administration will have some kind of downstream benefit for them. That if Trump takes a wrecking ball to what Steve Bannon described as the “administrative state” somewhere within all those broken pieces will be a magic jewel that will suddenly fall into their possession, like candy from a pinata. They’ll be the lucky ones who come out ahead.
Hoping for Trump’s new world disorder to positively impact you is like watching a tornado barrel toward your house and hoping that once it hits it’ll build you a gazebo. Is it possible? Sure, anything is. But even in that unrealistic scenario your benefit would be at the expense of your entire neighborhood.
But won’t something save us? This is the God Machine belief, the Didit fallacy in which power will materialize from nothing to prevent bad things from happening if triggered by some worst case scenario. “They won’t let that happen” says Joe Constituent of a district whose congressperson whistles “business as usual” while their Jewish centers evacuate from bomb threats and their mosques burn to the ground from arson fire.
I admit I have a fatalistic view of America in 2017. I can appreciate that there are some who don’t feel as passionately about politics or government as I do right now. But I ask that if you don’t feel that we’ve crossed the line into what is so unacceptable as a society that you feel compelled to act, you at least identify what that line is for yourself, and whether you are prepared to speak and act when the time comes.
The only God Machine that America possesses is the aggregate action of millions of ordinary Americans who have abruptly shown up to be activists. No other machination exists in our country to protect us in a worst case scenario. And our ability to prosper won’t materialize as the result of ‘luck for some’ but in our opportunity to embrace a moment in which our obligation to dissent has opened new pathways to fellowship and community.
Whatever the destination is for an administration that began with Russian collusion, attacks on the media, bans on religion, and police raids via massive scale, we will eventually reach that destination. And the stenographer that is social media will record how you reacted to each milestone along the way. Will you refuse the call?