Friday, January 27, 2017

Staying Sane These Days

A Facebook Friend whom I respect greatly asked this question: "How are you all staying sane in our era of insanity?" This blog post is not about debating whether or not we are in an era of insanity, although I happen to agree that it's as apt a characterization as anything else. After all, we are living in an environment where #AlternativeFacts = #DeliberateFalsehoods, as we have witnessed repeatedly when denials are countered by recorded, televised proof, including contradictory statements by the speakers themselves at different time periods.

My response to "How are you all staying sane in our era of insanity?" is shown below:

By working at staying "unhooked" by the news stories and by parsing what is said and done and what the commentators are saying. I'm a pragmatist, and I'm staying focused on the issues but not ignoring the players. Emotional response is a luxury for me when so much is at stake.

I believe in the power of righteous indignation. I also know that fear as a response to what is happening in the current administration is real and has a basis in fact. However, indignation and fear can be paralyzing and also time consumers. 

As a Person of Color and a person from a refugee-immigrant heritage (mother and both sets of grandparents), hate acts, profiling, restrictions on civil rights, etc. are not new news. They are part of my lived experience. They are not part of the lived experience of people who have various kinds of privilege, chief among them, White Privilege. Class Privilege is right up there next to White Privilege.

It is an act of resistance to be disciplined enough to recognize that acting out of being upset and angry (and I feel a lot of anger) is unproductive and wastes time. I also recognize my position as an elder and someone who has done anti-racism work for decades. That means remaining focused on the work of helping others to engage their fears and behavior, which is both goal and commitment to action.

My advice to everyone is to do the homework of learning what is actually going on. Engage in conversations that help you deepen your understanding and that challenge what you know or think you know. Be gentle with yourself, and also be relentless with yourself as you seek to become a better neighbor to all whom you encounter.

I want to make clear that I believe we each have a claim as well as a responsibility to be part of the work that will be needed to become better neighbors to one another. For me, that also means that while your part might be to take action such as marching or protesting, actions such as making phone calls or writing letters are also important and equally valid. It takes all of us to move justice and peace forward, doing what we can, when we can, as well as we can. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Courage is

Courage is an invisible thread
that twists through
my hidden soul
my secret self

courage lies buried
in daily life’s debris
where acquiescence
smoothes the way

The daily decisions
this bread
or that apple
in the end
make no difference
in my life
to my dreams
Earth’s destiny
its disagreement

Who am I
to argue with Nature
I am a member
of a tribe
too large to contain
too diverse to control
too selfish to share
I pray hope
all else fails

Courage is a bitter brew
more frightening
than addictive
I am a member
of a tribe
that judges the price
too large
when I am the one
chosen to pay

This tribe
has devised
creating heroes
to mask
the flight of courage
from the everyday

If it’s posted
If it’s spoken
and shared
Surely that is
and true
that courage
still lives on

Courage is
most sacred
When open
to all
naked of
most powerful
Courage is
the communion
that lifts
the hidden thread
in the body politic
to be warp
and woof
of a people
of a community
of a nation
of the world
Courage is
the secret self
reaching for
its family

Lelanda Lee, 1-25-17

I have a few questions

* I have a few questions . . . *
When did our body politic
become so fragile
that any statement of disagreement
is received
as a personal attack
on our identities?
When did we learn
to focus all our thinking
on formulating defensive responses
so that our moral positions
feel protected
and our egos feel affirmed,
if not lauded?
Is a 30-second elevator speech
laced with adjectives
advertising me
a worthy paean
to this heart that falters
this mind that questions
this body that cannot
fit into a mold
with the non-conforming parts
Dishonesty is not so far
from honesty
They share expanding edges
that we no longer recognize
nor can contain
It is the things
we tell ourselves
that pacify us
When all colors
soak into neighboring colors
no matter the forces
that roil them
the result is mud.
Lelanda Lee, 1-24-17