Activism: In Word and Deed, Rise
I woke up this morning with the soundtrack from Star Wars in my head. Specifically, John Williams masterpiece Duel of the Fates. The iconic song has always been a favorite of mine and perfectly captures the emotions surrounding the battle between two extremes.
Activism is just one example of a modern day war raging between good and evil. Originally I had planned to write an eloquent and philosophical piece about the eventuality and emotional impact of children leaving the nest.
As I sat down to bloviate and wax poetic, I caught wind of the latest twitter idiocy from the current part time resident of the White House. My quiet contemplative peace melted in to special brew of anger, disgust, and sadness.
If you are looking for words of wisdom and encouragement, you will first have to wade through some muck to get a glimpse of the rainbow after the storm.
Our determination and resolve to ride the nauseating waves of constant attacks, breaking news, unmitigated hate, and discrimination is fading quickly. The daily barrage of nonsense has reached critical mass.
In a perfect world, our current administration would not be what it is. An acceptable substitute would include anything happening in Washington DC staying in DC. However, our Capitol is nothing like Vegas. If it was, we might have a fighting chance to have some peace, tranquility, or God forbid, equal freedom to move about the world without fear of discrimination.
Unfortunately, what happens in our government does not remain in the vacuum of the offices of high ranking officials and law makers. The effects roll downhill and cover every fruited plain. Corruption, selfishness, and petulance are the rule rather than the exception anymore.
The provision for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is slowly fading from the paper it was written and becoming a luxury instead of a fundamental right. Just ask around. The Wild West has returned. It’s every man for himself. Almost literally.
Curiously, the only subsection of people in this country who historically lack a quantifiable or legitimate claim of victimization, or discrimination, seems to belong to the white, male, and typically fundamentalist Christian persuasion.
Whining about the assaults on their religious freedoms by the LGBTQ, atheist, liberals makes little sense coming from a group who has been relatively immune to being targeted, attacked, or marginalized in their lifetime. Taking prayer out of schools aside.
They are typically loud, indignant, and walk around spewing ignorance and hate under the guise of making America great again. They are easy to spot and are hard pressed to entertain, let alone understand, the idea that equality for someone else in no way detracts from their own freedom.
Their small world is so fragile that anything not fitting within their beliefs, mindset, or traditions can cause it to implode. Faith is the only permission needed to justify their hatred and no one is going to convince them otherwise. Reality is the least of their concerns.
The concept of live and let live is selectively applied and often not reciprocated nor popular in their circles. Hypocrisy in the purest form. Calling attention to facts is easily construed as an attack and dismissed with insults. So what are two feminist, lesbian, agnostic, liberal snowflakes with pre-existing conditions to do? Plenty.
In the current political and social climate it would be impossible to swing a cat in a crowded room and not hit someone who is dismayed and terrified of what is happening. The laundry list of targets grows by the minute. Every minority, Muslim, immigrant, LGBTQ, disabled, sick, or *insert other*, are being pummeled with discriminatory speech and actions which are threatening to shatter their freedom.
Honoring and remembering Billy Manes.
A week ago a brilliant writer, activist, and true gentleman passed away. He was also a great friend to my wife and me. He and his husband were our gay couple soul mates. Billy Manes story is equal parts tragedy and triumph. He was admired, respected, and a self-described provocateur.
My wife admired his passion and fearless advocacy for women, gays, and ending gun violence. I loved that he always greeted us with a kiss on the hand and a smile. The fact that he made a point of calling us beautiful did not hurt either.
Admittedly, my peace and love approach has been my chosen method of activism. Discerning the difference between extremism and activism has been a struggle for me. Extremism has never been in my wheelhouse and I have viewed its purpose at times as counterproductive.
Up until now, my choice to remain neutral and non-reactive was how I believed I could to enact change. In the hurricane of activism my preferred location has always been within the eye of the storm. Yes, I am passionate about many things, but my methods are quieter and less vocal. My wife has always been the activist in our household. Her yin to my yang has been the status quo. Until yesterday.
Our day included a short visit with Billy’s husband not even a week after his passing. We exchanged stories, laughed, and got choked up as he talked about continuing the work his beloved began. It was beautiful, moving, and everything Billy. Seeing him, and spending time in the sacred space that he and Billy shared, both deeply affected and inspired me.
While I was still processing the conversation and reflecting on ways I could better contribute to exacting change, news of the proposed ban on our transgender brothers and sisters in the military broke. The slow burning fuse finally reached the dynamite.
Lighting the Fire.
I get it now. Activism is a verb and requires courage, conviction, and fortitude. Getting fired up is the easy part. Doing something positive and not sitting with the anger and disgust is the hard part. It is loud and quiet at the same time. Both elements are needed to be effective in exacting change. I realized that my hesitation to speak up was rooted in fear. There is no room for fear if change is going to happen.
Finding ways to channel the anger is the key to righting the wrongs being perpetrated on the vulnerable in our society. There is power and strength in numbers as the fight for justice and equality builds and moves forward.
The road is long but the reaching the destination will bring peace and more love than is measurable. Shrinking down is not the way to create a world where all are treated equal and are free to exist in any way they choose. Speaking out is the scissor cut which slashes through the wide net of injustice and hate.
To honor the memory of our friend Billy Manes we plan to protest, educate, and remain kind and loving even in the face of hate. Activation and advocacy are the ultimate tribute. We will carry his spirit with us and continue to speak out against bigotry and hate. There is plenty of room in the boat for any who would like to join us. Follow the links below to learn how you can help support the causes which he spent his life fighting and advocating for.