What is to give light must endure burning. ~Viktor Frankl
It’s the perfect, tragic analogy to what’s happening all around us, I said. Everything feels like it’s burning. The whole world is on fire. You know?
My husband nodded quietly.
Even a world away we felt the gravity of it all.
Notre Dame cathedral – an 856 year old testament to strength, ingenuity, passion, culture. Its resilience is legendary. Its presence is awe-inspiring. Notre Dame cathedral – massive and hulking and delicate and ornate…
Burning to the ground.
Nine generations have cared for that cathedral. Nine generations kept it safe. Nine generations kept it from being bombed, or torched, or flooded – ruined or wrecked during their generation’s lowest moments. Nine generations successfully protected it from their era’s worst instincts and greatest dangers.
Until we came along.
As the fire raged and I averted my eyes from the newsreel, I couldn’t help but see the similarities to what we face here. Today. On our side of the pond.
Generations have protected our country from our worst instincts. We’ve never been a perfect union, certainly. But our structure remained solid. The bones, if you will, were sturdy.
But now there’s a fire raging, that’s taking out those sturdy beams one by one. Dry after decades of neglect, the timbers catch fire quickly. The fire spreads fast.
But as we scream and cry and watch and wring our hands with dismay … nobody comes with the water.
Millions of us are standing by with buckets at the ready, eager to be the fire brigade – eager to help save the structure, the beams, the bones. We beg someone to turn on the water. We’ll save what we can! We scream over the flames. Just let us have some water to fight it with! We’ll take care of the rest!
But the only people who can turn on the water keep shushing us.
They assure us that everything will be fine while embers swirl around their faces and it gets harder and harder to breathe. The bones are fine, they shout. The structure will be fine. You’ll see! Nothing can burn this down – it’s simply not possible. We just need to wait it out. It’s not as bad as it looks. We’ll see what damage there is in the morning, but in the meantime we’ve decided it’s best to let it burn.
Some in the crowd shrug and say it must not be that bad, or somebody would turn on the water. They love the building just as much – if not more! – than we do, they say. Surely they would turn on the water if this was a real emergency. More people nod, put away their buckets and leave the brigade, even while the fire gleefully skips and hops from one side of the building to the other, devouring all it can while it’s unchecked and unchallenged.
Meanwhile, more beams fall. More norms shatter like Notre Dame’s stained glass.
More of what made us great is reduced to ashes.
And the fire envelops more and more while we watch, and mourn all of the pieces of us that have been lost.
I don’t know why they won’t turn on the water. I don’t know why they can’t give us something to at least keep the fire from spreading. They could. By simply having hearings and allowing the public to see and hear what’s happening and how much is being destroyed. By letting the whole nation see just how far the fire has spread, they’d keep that very fire in check.
But they won’t. Or, at least, they haven’t yet.
Perhaps it’s because it’s hard to believe that something so hulking, and massive, and strong, and steady could go up in flames so quickly. Perhaps admitting that something so resilient is also delicate is too difficult for them. That something created over hundreds of years can be destroyed in the blink of an eye – under their watch – might be too much to take in.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter why, I suppose. The fire still rages.
I can’t hide the fact that this all has made me sad. Very sad. Sad for a humankind that can’t muster the courage to safeguard our natural world, or the nations within it, or the people within them, or even sacred buildings that we cherish.
It’s all on fire.
And it all feels so difficult to hold up.
But I have hope. Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor, psychologist, and the author of Man’s Search for Meaning once wrote that “… Everything can be taken from a [wo]man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
So while the world burns around us, I can see the destruction. The beams falling. The glass shattering. The smoke, and the embers, and the ashes.
But I also see the light.
I see the community of people who still stand at the base of the burning building, buckets ready. I see the people of Paris singing hymns to Notre Dame while she smolders. I see the people who are already planning to rebuild.
And I see the confident defiance of those of us who are sick and tired of waiting for someone to turn the water on for us – and are hard at work figuring out how we turn it on ourselves.
Because if we’re the only ones that see the flames, maybe we’re the only ones that can put them out.
Let’s get to work.
Tuesday: I’m Going on a Road Trip for Gun Reform!
That’s right! I’m going on a day trip this Thursday to Jefferson City, MO, where I’ll be publicly reading the first names and comments from the more than 840 (and counting!) folks who have signed my petition against Missouri’s HB 575. That bill permits concealed carry in public universities and private K-12s, and is a terrible-awful idea. Unfortunately it’s already passed the Missouri House.
But on Thursday, the Senate is going to take up the bill in committee. So on Thursday I’ll be heading to Jefferson City to make sure the people who sign the petition know their voice is being heard … by standing on the steps of the capitol and saying/shouting their first names and comments. (The plan is to do this on the steps of the capitol but as with all things organizing we’ll need to remain flexible.)
Why is this Tuesday’s action? Because you need to sign the petition in time for me to print your name and comment!
Make sure your voice is included by signing the petition by Wednesday night.
And please share the link!
Wednesday: Check for Town Halls
Congress is on recess, so now is the time to check your MOC’s schedule for town halls and public events. Go to www.townhallproject.com for an excellent list of events.
If your MOCs don’t have an event scheduled, do your sanity a favor and Tweet or create a Facebook post calling them out for their failure. You deserve to have an opportunity to see your representative face-to-face, regardless of their party affiliation.
Thursday: Get Your Popcorn and reading glasses
Word on the street is that Mueller’s actual report (not Barr’s interpretation of it) will be released on Thursday. Let’s carve out some space in our schedules to actually read it ourselves, okay?
I know it’s hard to make time to read it all – it’s nearly 400 pages, including exhibits. But let’s make it a priority to read as much of it as we can ourselves so that we can come to our own conclusions rather than relying on hot takes. There’s too much group think going on as it is, so let’s make sure we are informed.
Friday: Support the Presumptive Democratic Nominee
Because Congress is on recess, I thought we’d focus a little bit on the 2020 nominee.
I also want to let you in on a secret the GOP doesn’t want you to know.
*whispers* They already know when they’re going to attack our nominee.
How do I know? Because every incumbent president has run the same (winning) play since Karl Rove invented it. They will attack whomever gets enough delegates to win the nomination the very minute that candidate gets enough delegates.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The moment the candidate gets enough delegates is NOT the date of the convention.
At least, it hasn’t been in quite some time. Instead, one of the candidates will get the delegates she/he needs to win the nomination months before the convention. And that is the moment the candidate becomes becomes the “presumptive” nominee.
That is also the moment tens of millions of dollars of attack ads will rain down on her/him.
Oh, and another important note? Our presumptive nominee won’t be able to touch general election funds until after the convention.
So our “presumptive” nominee will have a *huuuuge* target on her/his back – but will have drained their bank accounts to win the primary, leaving them completely vulnerable and exposed.
But here’s the thing: we know this is coming, so we can do something about it. You and I can be the shield to protect our presumptive nominee by chipping in a buck or two a month to a fund that will go to them at the precise moment they secure the delegates needed to become the nominee.
I know what you’re thinking. There are a bunch of funds out there that will benefit the 2020 Democratic nominee. But those funds hit the nominee’s bank account AFTER the convention. And as we’ve already covered, our presumptive nominee will need funds far earlier than that. (Those 2020 nominee funds will help, obviously, but don’t solve the very specific insider-baseball problem that I’m describing here.)
Full disclosure that I’m really involved with this project (I don’t get affiliate bonuses or anything – but I do work with/for It Starts Today, the organization that’s behind the effort). But I don’t work with anything I don’t believe in, and this organization is doing such groundbreaking, exciting, grassroots work that I think you should check it/us out.
If you use this link to sign up and kick in a few bucks a month, I’ll be able to track and report back how much our community is doing to protect our presumptive nominee! And it will allow me to thank you personally for your help, which I would love to do: