hopelessness is not the answer

I started to write a blog this week, and when I read it back, I immediately censored myself. The post was called “5 Sleeps in a Small Town,” and it spoke of moments of transformation during my Thanksgiving visit to Pennsylvania—of finding common ground with people who live differently than I do at present.

One of the stories was about a conversation with a man named Justin. He was my massage therapist for an appointment that my amazing mom (hi!) made for me. We talked the whole time. He often said, “I’m so intrigued by you” when I spoke of my current “fiery feminist rant” phase. He was training to be a pastor and spoke of a God with only male pronouns. So I started responding with only female and gender neutral pronouns. He asked why. We had an open-minded conversation that left us both thinking.

I had a small handful of encounters that made me very sad and angry. Because I have learned and voiced opinions that differ from some people in that town, they have changed opinions of me as a person. Well…too bad. I’ve been reminding myself of late to be who I was in elementary school. By that, I mean the loudest, wildest version of myself. I was a girl who got aggressive during recess football. I was a girl who talked back to teachers when something was unfair. I was a girl who loved boldly and didn’t care who wrote notes about it.

I flew into PA this week full of anxiety, seeing in the same shade of red as the state’s vote on election night. I felt the weight of my truth—I had encouraged friends to exercise their right to vote, and they took my advice and pressed a button with Donald Trump's name on it. I envisioned people that I know and love becoming brainwashed by Fox News. And then, I cried. I saw the rounded mountains that are present in all of my childhood drawings. I saw large swatches of untouched woods when my uber to O'Hare had passed parking lots full of piled up Christmas trees. It was beautiful and disarming.

The end of the post read: This past week reminded me to be gentle with people. That doesn't mean silent compliance. There are too many things that matter too much right now, and you have to let your voice be heard. But kindness towards yourself and others helps you consider where they're coming from and how it might shape the way they're encountering you today.

Awwww, so heartwarming, right? Great place to end. WRONG.

What about those things that “matter too much right now?” Half of my heart is in Standing Rock. I’m calling. I’m not giving up. I’m recognizing that too many people are unaffected by social responsibility and more ruled by financial gain. So, I’m boycotting. I’m hoping that you will join me. Let’s make life inconvenient for some people, huh?

I saw a fantastic movie with my family called Arrival. I’ve been reeling ever since, and I can’t wait to go back for a second viewing. (SPOILER ALERT!) The visitors to earth brought world peace as a gift. The US was a leader in non-violent communication, and the actions of defiant individuals helped save the planet. I mean, come on. Talk about relevant.

Many recent movies have explored deep space from the house-hunting angle. How can we support life on Mars? How soon will there be a community on the moon? My problem with these movies (even though I love watching just like you) is that they curate a subconscious belief in our society that we can advance past the decay on Earth. We get one planet, people! One perfect, precious, fragile, and lush home. So let’s make art that doesn’t let people off the hook so easily. Let’s remain imaginative, yes, but let’s funnel that imagination towards solutions and actions as well.

We’re in a season where humans cut down trees to place in their living room. They overstuff their pantry and partake in lavish feasts. But they also spend time with loved ones to talk and give gifts. If you’re looking for ideas, consider paying a voluntary carbon tax for loved ones. I paid to offset my climate impact for the next year at carbotax.org. I learned how to do this by watching the documentary, Before the Flood.  I would highly recommend checking it out.

So many things are depressing and divisive and infuriating right now. Stay angry. Find ways to manage stress, but keep reading and listening and learning about injustice.

Soon, water fights won’t be a game for children. They will be our everyday reality. The water protectors are currently feeling the brutal blows of that reality. And soon, Donald gets to choose the art he wants hanging in the White House. That probably means that a nudey painting of him splayed on a trophy hunted bear rug will hang over the Oval Office desk. HELL NO WHY OH LAWD.

Feeling hopeless? Take a breath. Join Pantsuit Nation and adjust the notification preferences to your heart’s desire. We got this. I hope.