Don’t Feed The Vultures

The nation is divided – half patriots and half traitors, and no man can tell which from which. ~Mark Twain

On our drive to school (back when you had to do such a thing) my son and I used to listen to podcasts. One of our favorites was Stories Podcast.

It’s chock full of original, entertaining stories – with some fables and folk tales peppered in. One of my favorite episodes is called The Moringa Grove.

I won’t tell it as beautifully as they do on Stories Podcast, but here goes:

Deep in the savannah, a terrible drought had drained all of the ponds, and the lakes, and the rivers. The last pools of water lay under the shade of a grove of Moringa trees that were fed by a spring deep beneath the earth.

In the shade of the trees, animals of all kinds gathered to drink. Lions and zebras, cheetahs and warthogs. There was an uneasy truce among them, but still – tempers flared.

Get out of my way! Shouted a cheetah. I need a drink, and I need it now!

Pipe down, shouted a warthog who was closer to the front of the line. Wait your turn!

The cheetah stepped back.

But a vulture spied the cheetah’s expression, and flew down to console him. 

Are you going to take that from some striped warthog? It whispered into the cheetah’s spotted ear. After all, you have spots! – the finest fur in the land. I should say you deserve more respect – and more water. You should be at the front of the line…

The cheetah nodded, and simmered.

Then the vulture lighted near the striped warthog, and whispered: Ahh, just look at your stripes! The most beautiful fur in all the land. Surely stripes deserve more water than spots – you are clearly superior, you know. It’s good that you are getting your fill before those spotted creatures.

The warthog nodded, and snorted.

Soon enough striped animals and spotted animals were arguing among each other as to which deserved more respect – and more water. Giraffes claimed to deserve more water because they were clearly the most beautiful while zebras claimed to have dominance because of their clearly defined stripes. 

The vulture above fluffed his feathers and smiled. 

His dinner would arrive soon.

Finally the cheetah pushed his way into the pool to take a drink … and was met by a young tiger of the same size. They circled one another, exchanging insults about stripes and spots – until suddenly they were fighting.

End over end they tossed, through water and dust and mud. On one side the striped animals cheered and encouraged the tiger. On the other, spotted animals cheered and encouraged the cheetah.

Before long, the mud and blood disguised both cats, and the crowd grew confused as to when to cheer and when to boo.

Eventually the cheetah and tiger were so tired they couldn’t fight anymore. The cats fell to the ground, exhausted, batted and bloodied and bruised.

The crowd remained silent.

Until a young warthog stepped forward, and quietly took a broken moringa branch from the ground. He dipped the leaves into the water, offering it first to one cat and then the other, so that each warrior could lick water from the leaves.

Seeing the striped warthog offering water to both cats, the zebra shouted out in protest – Hey! Stop! You could be helping the spot!

The warthog turned to the zebra, and to the rest of the animals. 

Spots or stripes – who can tell and who can care? They both bleed as red as all of us. Spots and stripes are nothing but a covering we’re born to. It’s what’s inside that matters, and inside we all have hearts. And it’s those we should be using.

He went back to tending to both cats, and soon enough the other animals joined in too. The strong helped the weak, the spotted helped the striped and the striped helped the spotted – and they all got a drink.

I am sorry, said the zebra to the warthog. 

When we fight between spots and stripes, it only serves the vultures.

And with that, the disappointed vulture flew away.

It’s a powerful story, both for children and their adults. 

And it’s a story that has resonance right now. Our country is splintered between red and blue, between religions, races, cultures… There are no shortage of vultures looking to fan the flames of anger and allow ourselves to do the dirty work of tearing each other apart so they can feast on the carnage.

The Democratic party – big tent though we might aspire to be – has shown its capacity to tear itself limb from limb. And depending upon what people like you and I do over the next few months, we can do the vultures’ work for them again.

We’ve seen plenty of it already, haven’t we? Articles tee up debates between “progressives” and “conservative” and “moderate” Democrats, with representatives from each contingent saying that they’ve got the best path, or the most passionate supporters, or is the “only” way our democracy survives.

And then reporters step back to watch the debate and the fight they’ve teed up so they can report on the outcome to views and clicks and advertising revenue.

It’s easy to take the bait. It’s easy to be angry with people who don’t agree with us, who see a different vision, who have a different perspective.

But the stakes are so very high, friends. 

I’m not asking anyone to compromise their vision or their values. But I also don’t want us to do the job of the vultures.

They do that just fine on their own.

So let’s stay united, and let’s get to work.

Actions for the Week of August 25, 2020

Tuesday: Get Out Those Gel Pens…

Have you missed sending postcards? Are your hands itching for something to do at night while you watch t.v.? Then I’ve got a project for you! Postcards To Swing States sends you (free!) postcards that you complete with a very short handwritten message that’s provided for you. You’re responsible for writing the cards, paying the postcard postage, and ensuring they go out in the mail during a specific window of time. You can choose from two pre-written messages – one using “social pressure” and the other using “value based” messaging. Your postcards will help turn out voters. And the bonus? Your work writing and sending the postcards will help in a post-election review of which kind of messaging works better. (A valuable piece of information on its own). Check it out and order your free postcards here: www.

Wednesday: Introducing Voterizer!

Field Team 6, which has done a bang-up job registering voters, has outdone themselves by creating the web portal. It takes users to correct registration sites in all 50 states, helps request an at-home ballot (IF that is available in their jurisdiction), and confirms registration before sending deadline reminders, secure drop box locations, and state-specific updates. They like to say that offers “voter registration unshackled!”

And frankly, I love to share resources that have such awesome cheeky social media ad/shareables. You’ve got to check out their amazing campaigns – which should give us all some inspiration on ways we can freshen up the campaigns we’re working on. I strongly recommend watching the “How to Clean the White House” ad here: Brilliant.

Check it out, and participate in the social media blitz they have scheduled for Saturday, at:

Thursday: Use Trump’s Tweets Against Him

I wanted to be sure you knew about the #DefeatByTweet campaign. We are all (very) well aware of Trump’s addiction to Twitter. Why allow it to only spread hate – when we can harness the power of his little tiny fingers for good?

Enter DefeatByTweet, where each twitter missive by the Tweeter-In-Chief triggers a micro-contribution to the Justice Fund, a portfolio of Black-led grassroots organizations working at the intersection of electoral politics and justice reform in key swing states. You can set a maximum that you want to donate per month, and your contribution per tweet can be as low as one penny. Check it out and share it:

Friday: Support indigenous people with Radicalize the Vote!

On Saturday (12PM Eastern/11AM Central) Radicalize the Vote will be holding a Radical Registration Telethon, a 12-hour Indigenous-led event to promote voter registration in Indian Country.

They’ve created a voter registration portal, and the Registration Telethon will help promote it nation-wide. While national in scope, their focus this year is on “seven states where Indigenous people have the ability to shift the vote this year. Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Utah are states that, together, encompass over one million Indigenous voters”.

Learn more and help spread the word at


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!

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