Do, or do not. There is no try. ~Yoda
Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to be confident. ~Carrie Fisher
Yesterday would have been Carrie Fisher’s birthday.
She’s best known as the tough but elegant Princess Leia in Star Wars. She would have been 63, but her heart gave out three years ago in December 2016 while we were all still reeling from the election.
Yesterday I was sifting through various tributes to her, and I thought – maybe it’s better that she didn’t see the turmoil we’ve been through. You know? Maybe it’s better that she left us with inspiration and vision of what being a heroine can look like (flaws and all).
Because Princess Leia was all of the things we want and need to be. Smart. Courageous. Unexpectedly fierce. Independent. (And for a hot minute when I was in first grade, I thought her ear buns were the height of fashion, and I forced my mother to re-create them on a regular basis. True story.)
While Luke Skywalker was trying to figure everything (and himself) out, Leia seemed solid, even if she did need help now and again.
So while Star Wars is really Luke’s story, and the ultimate “hero’s journey,” Leia was a shining beacon of the kind of leader a girl could be.
And that got me thinking. (That’s always dangerous.)
If you’re not familiar with it, the “Hero’s Journey” is a common (and successful) thematic dramatic structure followed in everything from Rocky to The Odyssey. Star Wars is one of the best and most frequently-cited examples, because George Lucas literally used it to focus his story.
In simplified form, it goes something like this: We meet our hero(ine) in the regular world, just going about his/her everyday business. Then there’s a sudden call to adventure. Often there’s a refusal to accept the call – at least at first. (Remember that Luke initially refuses Obi-Wan’s call to help Leia, only deciding to help once he sees that stormtroopers have murdered his aunt and uncle? Yeah. It’s like that.)
But eventually our plucky protagonist answers the call, usually meeting someone who will help/guide them through what will certainly be difficult times.
They soon become fully committed to the new adventure, encounter and confront tests and enemies, and find their group of allies (i.e., their “squad” or crew).
Then there’s the big ordeal at the end with a massive battle and lessons learned.
This is all incredibly simplified (books have been written about the structure) but you get the drift.
And as I was ruminating on Star Wars, and Carrie Fisher, and Hero’s Journey, and our current state of political affairs, it occurred to me.
You and I are living our own Hero’s Journey.
You heard the call, and you’ve answered it (albeit reluctantly, most likely). Maybe you’re an unlikely hero/ine who’s never thought of herself as particularly powerful. Now you’re committed; you’re dedicated; you’re focused like a laser.
Maybe you changed the entire focus and trajectory of your life. Maybe you changed jobs, or got into or out of relationships.
You’ve faced elections, internet trolls, personal attacks and setbacks and many road blocks.
But you’re still here.
You’re still here with the rest of us, your crew, that is dedicated to seeing this through.
And here we all are – careening toward our climactic end.
Just like Star Wars, there’s really no ending – even after the “big battle” and the credits roll. (How many Star Wars movies have there been?) So I don’t want to mislead that our work is done after November 2020.
But I do want you to see the dramatic, exceptional, amazing arc that you’re part of.
You’re history in the making, you know.
You’ve embarked on the journey of a generation. That’s not hyperbole. That’s reality.
I know it’s hard to see when we’re so close to the action. When we’re living the story it’s hard to step outside of it to see just how dramatic it is.
But I can imagine Carrie up there looking down on all of us and our Princess Leia protest signs, happy to once again be part of such an epic Hero’s Journey. Maybe she’s proud to be emblazoned on T-shirts with phrases like “fight like a girl.” Maybe she’s humbled to be a role model of how to stand solidly, with purpose – with conviction – with the certainty that we’re the good guys and that what we’re fighting for matters.
One day you’ll be able to look back on this chapter of your life and see it for the epic adventure it is – and will be.
Your a Hero, and I’m proud to be part of your journey.
May the force be with you.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the week of October 22
Tuesday: Keep moving forward
We have some elections coming up, and it’s a great time to join up with Swing Left and Vote Forward to encourage people to vote or to register to vote. There are campaigns across the country that need YOUR help. Writing a letter is an easy way to encourage voting – no matter what time of day you have available or where you’re located. So for those of you living in a blue state, you can make a huge difference here! (And speaking from someone living in a red state, we could sure use your help…) Head over to www.votefwd.org for information about their current campaigns.
Speaking of red states… Democrat Andy Beshear is running for Governor of Kentucky and his race is 2 weeks away. Although early polls had shown him leading, the race has narrowed – and now it’s a complete tossup. (You can read this interesting article about how races in Kentucky always seem to be going for the Dems… only to end up going red in the end anyway. Super frustrating, and we need to crack this code!)
You can help Beshear’s campaign from anywhere across the country. Just go to https://www.mobilize.us/kydems/event/108304/ to sign up for a remote phone banking shift. Let’s get the vote out!
Thursday: Two Great Resources (one funny, one serious)
I’ve always been a fan of School House Rock, and now we have an awesome impeachment explainer in the School House Rock-ian style! You can check it out and share it from here.
Now for the serious bit. The Senate Intelligence Committee – which is headed up by a Republican (Senator Burr) has released a report on Russian interference. It’s the road map for how the Russians interfered in the 2016 election, and we can fully expect the same things will happen this cycle. Honestly, guys, you should read this to make sure you’re up to speed on what’s going on and what’s being used against us.
The social media tactics are described in and around page 15-22, but basically we’ve seen (and continue to see) their plans unfold in real time. They attack the media with an aim to keep us hooked, distracted – and passive. They want you to think “there are so many versions of events that I’ll never know the truth.” A confused populace is a paralyzed one, which is why it’s important for us to keep supporting news and investigative journalism.
They have an indirect objective as well – to get the government to take measures that are contrary to democratic values. To get governments to go overboard in combatting them – and to thereby undercut our own value system.
The report also has suggestions for what Congress and the executive branch (ha!) can do to combat disinformation, but I recommend going straight to the end where you’ll find Senator Wyden’s personal suggestions. Most importantly, he states “Between now and the 2020 election, the Intelligence Community must find ways to keep the U.S. public informed not only of individual influence operations, but the Community’s assessment of the goals and intent of Russia and other foreign adversaries.”
We need to find out what, if anything, they’re doing in that regard right now.
The whole report is important, and you’ll find it here: https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report_Volume2.pdf
Friday: Climate Risk Resources for Local Governments
It’s obvious that the federal government, led by Trump, is not taking any action on climate change. It’s also obvious that we can’t put all of our eggs in the “let’s elect a Democrat” basket. (See, e.g., 2016).
So we need to be putting the screws to our local and regional governments to DO something about climate. But those folks are often overworked, underpaid, and overwhelmed with the day-to-day, let alone an existential crisis in the making.
To that end, here’s a fantastic resource to pass along to your local government officials who are interested in addressing climate change but just don’t quite know how to go about it: The Guidebook for Local, Regional and State Governments. http://icleiusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/PreparingForClimateChange_Sept2007.pdf
This is a great document to share with your local government officials – no matter what level they are – along with an offer to help build a team of concerned citizens that can help. You will get further faster if you offer to lend a hand.
And after all, it’s all hands on deck. Right?
WHEW! GO, TEAM! SUPER PROUD OF YOU!
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!
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.