Backwards and Forwards

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards. ~Soren Kierkegaard

You can’t really move forward until you look back. ~Cornel West

I like looking backwards sometimes.

Because when you’re looking at your feet, or at the road ahead, you lose sight of how much ground you’ve covered.

When you intentionally look back, you see the twists and turns you’ve taken. You see where you stumbled. You can remember how you got up.

You remember that bench where you sat for a spell, and you remember the stretch of road where you wished you had a bench to sit on.

In other words, you can appreciate how far you’ve come … while reflecting on the lessons you learned along the way.

So join me for a moment, and think back to one year ago.

Labor Day 2018.

John McCain had just passed away (we talked about it HERE). Brett Kavanaugh had been nominated for the Supreme Court – but we did not yet know about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (we talked about our collective anger at her treatment HERE).

The House was still ruled by a GOP majority, so every horrifying fever dream the GOP cooked up could be rushed through Congress to be signed by the itty-bitty-tiny hands in the White House.

We were not yet numb to the reality of children in cages on our border.

We did not yet know if we would be able to regain the House in 2018 – which was our last best hope of stemming the tide of insanity. Some pundits said we would. Others said we wouldn’t. Most thought it would be close.

But Labor Day 2018, two months from the 2018 election, our nerves and anxiety were through the roof. We were bees buzzing around busily preparing for an election that was just weeks away.

What you were focused on one year ago today? This week? This month?

What did you want more of?

Was it time? Was it money? Was it bodies? (Or, as I suspect, All Of The Things?) Were you cursing the fact that you had only a few weeks left – that you didn’t have time to implement an awesome idea? Or maybe you didn’t have funding for that other planned project? Or maybe that there weren’t enough people, or enough training, or enough trained people? Or maybe there was a technology that you wished you had known about… or that you wished existed.

Do you know why I’m asking? (I’ll bet you know why I’m asking.)

I’m asking because we’ve got a year.

Correction: We’ve only got a year.

A year is a very long time to have to withstand the Trump administration but it’s not terribly long to prepare, friends.

And while some of you had spectacular successes in 2018, others had serious disappointments. And with a year left, we have just enough time to put preparations in place.

Now is the time for you to remind yourself about what you wished you had one year ago – and to use the time we’ve got left to put yourself in a better place one year from today.

So this week, look over your shoulder and remind yourself of how far we’ve come. But do so with an eye toward what you can use in the future, and what we can do now.

We have a year…

So let’s get to work.

Actions for the week of September 3

Tuesday: Join the Global/US Climate Strike or Organize your own!

There’s just no getting around it – we must do something about the warming climate. The time for sitting on the sidelines is over. But how do we show how much we care about this issue?

Here’s one way! The week of September 20, people all over the world will go on climate strike. They’ll leave their work, their school, their home to go join others who recognize the peril we’re in.

Hundreds of rallies and protests have already been organized. Go to (In the US) or (Outside the US) to find one near you. Both sites have wonderful information on how to organize your own climate strike if there isn’t one already scheduled near you.

Not able to leave work on September 20? The global site has got you covered with lots of great ideas on how you can take part in the action from work.

You can also join the strike digitally, either by posting on social media using their prepared graphics or by using their resources to add banners to your website! Smart stuff, I’m telling you… Go here for the digital resources:

Wednesday: Speaking of elections…

Dan McCready is running for Congress in a special election in North Carolina’s 9th. You probably remember the shady reasons there’s a special election in the first place – but regardless of why there’s an election, we can win this one!

Early voting is already under way, and this race will be ALL about turnout. Right now it’s a dead heat. Because Trump won the district by 11 points in 2016, the GOP is spending heavily to keep the district red. That means McCready is being seriously outspent – which is why all of us need to pitch in. (Not with dollars – with time!)

You can make calls from the comfort of your couch! This is good old fashioned GOTV folks, so head over HERE to sign up for a shift.

Thursday: Flu Season

Three children have already died of influenza in the custody of CBP.

The people in CBP custody are being held in terrible conditions. They’re cold, overcrowded, hungry, stressed – and have undergone an incredibly grueling trip to get here in the first place. Reports also show that they’re being held in unsanitary conditions.

Because of all of this, on August 1, physicians from Johns Hopkins and Mass General recommended that during flu season flu vaccines be given to these refugees on arrival.

This week the administration announced that it won’t.

Terrifying, infuriating, and dangerous.

Coupled with the proposed regulations that would allow the administration to hold these people indefinitely, we’re talking about thousands of people with compromised immune systems being housed in close quarters for an extended period with no protection from the flu. It’s a public health crisis in the making.

So far, one lawmaker has written a letter to the CDC and Surgeon General asking them to speak out about the dangers of this new policy, and a few others wrote a letter (before the administration announced new rules to hold migrants indefinable) asking the Homeland Security Secretary how the agency plans to deal with infectious disease like the flu.

But this is yet another issue that every lawmaker should address. Let’s bring it to their attention this week and ask what they’re doing to protect these immigrants – and us – from the public health crisis the Trump administration is creating.

Script: (for Representatives or Senators) Hi, my name is ____ and I’m calling from ____. I know that the Trump administration has announced it will not give flu shots to people in CBP custody. With the number of people they’ve detained and with the conditions we’re hearing exist in those centers, it’s a perfect environment for the flu to spread. The administration is putting those people at risk – but the flu doesn’t just stay in a detention center. Their actions increase the risk for a serious flu epidemic. What is the [Senator/Congress(wo)man] doing about this?

Friday: Keep up the pressure

Perhaps you were as heartbroken as I was about the news that the Trump administration has ended the medical deferred action program, which allowed immigrants – including children – with significant medical issues to remain in the US to receive life-saving treatment.

Families were given 33 days from the date of the letter they received to leave the country.

The Trump administration confirmed it was ready to deport children with cancer, with rare genetic diseases, with Cystic Fibrosis – to countries that have no way to treat them. Parents were (and are) overwrought, trying to figure out how to save their children.

On Friday, 127 members of Congress wrote a letter to US Citizenship and Immigration services and ICE demanding answers. Rep. Elijah Cummings announced that on September 6 the House Oversight Committee’s Civil Rights Subcommittee will have a hearing (though they still haven’t posted the details – message me if you hear!).

But on Monday … the admin reversed course.

That’s great! For now. But let’s face it – this administration has a tendency to move things around behind the scenes when we aren’t looking. This is a FAST moving issue, guys, and if you see/hear of actions to take in support of these families I hope you’ll send them to me at

In the meantime we can call our Congresspeople and demand that they hold the administration to its word.

Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m calling from ___. I’m concerned about the immigrants who have been here under medical deferred action. First the administration said it’s not renewing those deferments, and now it says that it’s reversed course. Can you tell me what Congress(wo)man ___ is doing to help the people who have been impacted by this policy? What is he/she doing to hold the administration to its word?


P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at or via paypal at
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

Have a thought? A small deed to suggest? Share it here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s