Strange how nearsighted being invisible can make you. ~JK Rowling, Harry Potter
Last month I finally started reading Harry Potter with my son.
It’s been a long time.
I still remember being a newly minted lawyer, wondering what all the fuss was about with this children’s book – and then devouring the first of the series in two or three days. It spoke to me then – in a topsy-turvy time after 9/11 when the whole world was spinning backwards.
It speaks to me still.
It’s a magical story of a seemingly ordinary child who holds the power to fight against the darkest of darknesses. A kid with a scar, who’s lacked love and recognition. Who nobody really notices – at least, not for a long time. Who lives in the cupboard under the stairs but has greatness inside him – he just has to evolve, and uncover it, and learn to use it.
It’s a universal story, really. Because we’re all like that.
We all have greatness. We’re born with it. We start life with spark in our heart and the firm notion that we can do anything. Whether it’s flying (I have the chin scar to prove that one) or saving the world – we’re convinced that our voices matter. Because nobody has told us otherwise. (Yet.)
When I was five years old, my Ranger Rick magazine told me about some animals that needed saving. I learned what “endangered” meant, and it made me scared and sad. And I knew I could help. I figured if the president knew what was happening, he would fix it. He must not know, I thought. So I got out my crayons and a piece of paper, and wrote a sincere letter to Ronald Regan, explaining the situation. I was fully confident that once he got my letter that would settle the matter.
I remember checking our phone book for his address and being confused that The White House wasn’t in the Omaha, Nebraska listings.
I’m not unique, you know. My son’s first-grade class has so thrown itself into saving a critically endangered mollusk (yes, a mollusk!) that the teacher is looking for things they can do, or people they can talk to – anything to (as she said it) preserve and honor their genuine and sincere voices.
To preserve and honor their genuine and sincere voices.
She’s a great teacher.
Because young people hear “you’ll understand someday,” “that’s not how things work,” or “you’re so naive” on repeat throughout their young lives… unintentionally covering up that sparkle. Bit by bit.
I’m not sure why we do that to one another – and to kids, frankly. (Although we’re all just kids, you know. Older, scuffed up versions, certainly. But kids nonetheless.) Maybe because when you’ve misplaced your sparkle it hurts to see it in someone else. Maybe just because it’s what other people told us and tell each other, so it feels like the right thing to say.
In any case, after years, decades – a lifetime of convincing ourselves of our mediocrity, we forget the greatness that we have hidden away under our own heavy blankets of disappointment.
Those blankets are hard to cast off, you know. It’s much easier to crawl under them. And if nobody else sees the greatness tucked away under the covers … well. It’s easy to wonder if it ever was there to begin with.
That’s one of the magical things about our current political environment, I think. It’s such an ongoing earthquake – and there’s so much to do! – that so many of us have thrown off what’s been covering us up. We’ve cast aside concerns of being too [insert fear here] and just plunged in … evolving, discovering, and learning along the way.
And so, I was thinking of all of this – and you – as my son’s eyes twinkled at the beautifully illustrated pages of Harry Potter, the story of the Boy Who Lived in the cupboard under the stairs until one day he discovered his true calling and fell headlong into his personal adventure.
And I thought that once upon a time maybe you, too, wrote a letter in red crayon to the president. Maybe, like my son, you wanted to save an endangered mollusk with all your heart – and you just knew you could do it, if given a chance. And maybe for a while your life carried on just fine while your sparkle dimmed and flickered, forgotten…
And maybe now, like Harry and so many others of us who have snapped to attention after being on auto-pilot for years, you’re cautious but excited as you learn to believe again. As you continue to evolve and uncover your greatness.
The greatness that was always there to begin with.
I hope you can see it.
Because I sure can.
Okay, friend. Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of March 3, 2020
Tuesday: VOTE! And Write postcards for wisconsin!
This one is a no-brainer, right? If you’re in a Super Tuesday state, get out there and vote! And if you’re not, please don’t let pundits convince you that one or another candidate is “never going to win.” Biden was that candidate just 10 days ago, and we’ve all seen where that prediction has landed.
If you’re not in a Super Tuesday state, text your pals that ARE and make sure they’re heading out to the polls today. Voting is a habit, so let’s make sure we’re helping friends get habituated to voting, m’kay?
Polls closed? Then use up that nervous energy by writing postcards for Judge Jill Karofsky in Wisconsin. She’s up for a WI Supreme Court seat (they have 10 year terms) and she sounds lovely! Her opponent is a right-wing ideologue who is endorsed by Trump and held a fundraiser at a firing range after a mass shooting. Not. Our. Kind. Of. Guy.
So head over to https://postcardstovoters.org and help get out the vote for Judge Karofsky!
Wednesday: CoronaVirus “Prioritizing Pandemic Prevention Act’’- Call your Senators!
We need a plan – now – for how to tackle the novel coronavirus outbreak. And the federal government seems paralyzed at the very moment we need swift action. Well. We happen to have a Senator – who’s also running to be the next POTUS – who is a whiz at creating actionable plans.
Elizabeth Warren has a plan. Not to use in the future – but to use right this very moment.
It’s pretty simple: take the funding set aside for a vanity border wall and use that funding to combat the coronavirus.
Here’s the very simple bill she’s proposed:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any un-obligated Federal funds appropriated or otherwise made available to plan, develop, or construct a physical barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico shall be immediately transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services and the United States Agency for International Development for the express purpose of combating coronavirus disease (COVID– 6 19).
As Senator Warren explains, Trump “has failed to direct significant financial resources to his coronavirus response. His Fiscal Year 2021 budget, released just weeks ago, proposed decimating the HHS budget, including CDC’s, and the President has requested that Congress reprogram funding dedicated to fighting Ebola to coronavirus. The president also requested a mere $1.25 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to combat the virus-an amount that received bipartisan opposition-and his administration is reportedly transferring $37 million to coronavirus efforts from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which funds heating for poor families. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has continued to request funding for a wall on the southern border.”
So pick up the phone and call your Senators, tell them that you support prioritizing our health over some stupid vanity wall.
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling to ask the Senator to cosponsor and support the Prioritizing Pandemic Prevention Act so that we can focus resources on this public health emergency.
Thursday: Calling All lawyers! Join the Election Protection Team
We the Action has a number of wonderful opportunities for lawyers, but this one really caught my eye because the time commitment is reasonable, it’s available remotely with training that’s on demand, and it relates to election protection!
They explain it best: “In 2020, Election Protection will provide Americans with comprehensive information and assistance at all stages of voting—from registration, to absentee and early voting, to casting a vote at the polls, to overcoming obstacles to their participation. Volunteer lawyers are needed: (1) before Election Day to answer questions at call centers throughout the country; and (2) on Election Day to volunteer at polling locations throughout the country. Volunteer lawyers will provide voter information, document problems voters encounter when voting, and work with partners and volunteers on the ground to identify and remove barriers to voting. All training is provided, and is available on demand.”
Interested? Check them out and sign up at: https://wetheaction.org/projects/491-2020-election-protection
Friday: Calling All Volunteers!
Do you have an hour or two per week that you’d like to dedicate to finding ways for us all to make a difference? Then join the Small Deeds Done research team! It’s a great way to help amplify all of our efforts, get to know other people in this space, and change the world. (Plus, we’re pretty friendly and fun folks!) Interested? Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org!
WHEW! GO TEAM!
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.