Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and in the total of all these acts will be written the history of this generation. ~Robert Kennedy
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. ~Robert Kennedy
A while ago, I was sitting on my couch trying to shake off the day’s insanity. (Hard to do these days, I know.)
And I wondered.
Does anyone else measure their personal success of the last few years by how hard they have railed against injustice?
Does anyone else consider the yardstick of their life to be whether their children and grandchildren will look back through Grandma’s archives to see what she was saying as part of the resistance?
Does anyone – everyone? – understand just how historic this era is? How important? How significant?
It has become increasingly important to me that the people that I love – and some that I don’t yet know – be able to see the history of the last four years through my eyes when I’m gone.
We all have a legacy. Whether we like it or not, we usually don’t know when our life’s story will end and our legacy will begin. But what we do every day, and how we live our lives determines what our legacy will contain.
When I was a little girl I would write heartfelt (yet terrible) poetry in spiral bound books, imagining that someday my papers would be found and I would be considered the next Emily Dickinson.
But now, with some ‘seasoning,’ I recognize that the most authentic poetry we write is with the days of our lives.
You can make it as flowery or as sparse as you want it to be.
I want the message of my life to be very clear: that we are all important. Every last one of us. Every single voice, no matter how quiet, or halting, or uncertain.
No matter how rich, or poor, or smart, or atypical.
Educated or not.
Healthy or not.
Young. Old. Weak. Strong.
All of us.
That includes you.
And now, these past few years, I’ve seen just how many others believe the same.
So as this week goes into the next, and into the next, and into the one after that – dissolving into the longest year of the shortest year in memory… know that someday, when days feel more concrete and life just a little less delicate, you will look back on this time. Years from now you’ll reflect on some of the hardest and stickiest moments.
Like the moment you heard the heartbreaking audio of children who were separated from their families – babies wailing for their daddy, and begging for a phone. Or the moment you recognized that some (many) leaders were sniveling cowards. And especially the moment that you recognized you – you! – had a part to play in this messy, slippery democracy.
And you’ll know what you decided to do in the days that followed.
And in the days that followed those days.
And those days will be part of your story. Your legacy. Your sonnet.
And someday, instead of finding spiral-bound books of bad poetry, my grandkids will find notebooks from meetings. They’ll find emails, and essays, and ideas that were good but never went anywhere. They’ll find passion. Inspiration. An eagerness that seemed boundless…
Emily Dickenson I’m not.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not a poet. My verses are just written in the life I’ve lived – in however many weeks, and months, and years that I’m blessed to have.
And now, my question for you, my friend.
What will you write with your life?
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of December 8, 2020
Tuesday: Join Sierra Club and Write Letters to Protect the Arctic
The Trump administration has entered the last phase of their destructive rush to lease for oil and gas drilling on the coastal plain of the sacred Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency responsible for managing leasing, has issued a call for nominations for leasing on the coastal plain of the Refuge — this is the final step before a lease sale can be held. They’re only accepting comments physically mailed to Alaska’s BLM office, and we need to send them by December 10, 2020.
Now is your chance to use your pen and pencil to defend Indigenous rights, protect wildlife and help stem the rapid acceleration of climate change.
Go to the Sierra Club HERE, where you’ll get talking points, instructions, and a sample script. *Note that this is a very time sensitive action and you need to get your letter in the mail by the 10th!*
Wednesday: Every Last One
Every.Last.One. is a non-profit organization “dedicated to ending the damage caused by cruel and negligent treatment arising from American immigration policy.” Through volunteers and partners, it empowers families, advocates for them, and educates the public. And, in all of its roles, it needs dedicated and inspired people like you to help out.
We are closing the last final weeks of Donald Trump’s ruinous reign, but the trauma he’s inflicted on these families is lifelong. It was harm inflicted in our name, on our soil, with our government. So take some time and look to see if there are any opportunities that you can get involved with. https://everylastone.org/get-involved/
Thursday: Mr. Biden – Tear Down This Wall!
I love this action. As we all know, Donald Trump’s vanity wall has not only been a colossal waste of tax payer funding. It’s been an environmental nightmare. The National Butterfly Center has come out in full force after a report by the New York Times (A Rush to Expand the Wall That Many Fear is Here to Stay) that the wall won’t get the attention it deserves. From their homepage:
Each day, we watch flatbed trucks with border wall panels drive by as Trump’s wall goes up on either side of the National Butterfly Center. This truckload was headed to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park where wall is being built at the park entrance, even though construction was prohibited in the 2019 Department of Homeland Security spending bill. And right now, Congress is considering a 2021 budget that actually contains almost $2 billion MORE for border wall construction!
PLEASE HELP US ELEVATE THIS ISSUE SO IT CANNOT BE IGNORED OR DISMISSED BY PRESIDENT-ELECT BIDEN AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT HARRIS, NO MATTER WHO THEY SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH.
They have a postcard and a sample message you can download [HERE] to send to President Elect Joe Biden, at 1401 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC 20230. Or you can simply use their sample message as a template and send a postcard or a letter of your own. (I plan on sending mine with my butterfly notecards. Sure seems appropriate…)
And heck out the National Butterfly Center’s website here: https://www.nationalbutterflycenter.org
Friday: Look local
There will be a lot of issues and actions in the coming weeks that will be hyper-local. I’ve already seen it in my own community – conservatives pushing for fewer restrictions even in the midst of rising numbers. So this week, take stock of what’s going on around you to see where you can plug in. And honestly, that might be as a social media superstar helping bat back disinformation (which is really hard to tamp down).
I also want you to consider that one in six Americans could go hungry this year. (See this NatGeo article, which puts this situation into very stark relief.) If you are able to, now is the time to head over to Feeding America (https://www.feedingamerica.org) which can help you find your own local food bank where you can volunteer or donate.
Most communities have some sort of “adopt a family” for the holidays. Does your community do that? Why not join up with a few friends and make a family’s holiday special. They will remember your kindness, and you’ll remember how you felt giving them a better end to 2020.
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.