I read a quote today that comes from a book I own but have not read yet, “Transformation is not accomplished by tentative wading at the edge.” Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
We are in a transformational time. I am not the only one who feels it. We are being challenged by great evil, here in our country and in others as well. But with the evil challenges we face today I see a rising up, an awakening, a unification like I haven’t seen in my life time.
Joining in with activism is a big deal. Yet today, it is necessary. For everyone. In some way. I use to say, “Just do what is comfortable for you.” I am no longer advocating that. I am now saying, “Get out of your comfort zone.” Our times and issues are demanding that from each of us.
The latest numbers released say that 47,000 children have been separated from their families at our southern border. When I heard that number I wept. I wept for those children and the fear they have and continue to experience. I wept for the parents who experienced someone taking their child and for the fear of wondering where and how they are. I wept for us. Because only a country with a broken soul could take a child away from its parents. And only a broken country could look away while it’s being done.
I use to understand and enable those, including myself, who looked away. I must be honest. I must admit my shame. For so long, I looked away. It frightened me. It confused me. I didn’t know what to do. But it is clear that we can no longer look away. We can’t. Poll numbers show that almost 1/2 of our country does not see what the other half sees. They do not see the evil in the man who is our president and in all those of his party who enable him by looking away.
Friends of mine with degrees in history and political science are freaking out and rightfully so. They list times in history that are identical to the time we are in now. Times when people looked away, choose not to see, chose not to believe what was happening in front of them. And it all began with the scapegoating of a vulnerable population. We are here. We are in that same moment. We have an open racist for a president who encourages others to be the same. I won’t go so far as to say all who support him are racist but many/most are. And those who aren’t? Well, I fear they choose not to see.
“Transformation is not accomplished by tentative wading at the edge.” When we put that thinking behind the notion of activism it is clear that we must jump right in. I’ll share how it happened for me. It is certainly not the right way nor the only way; it’s just the way it happened for me. While it’s not my first foray into the world of activism, it is the first time in a very long time. I found myself following articles and links that friends were posting on social media. Around that time the following poem came up on my feed:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
This was written by a Lutheran minister in Germany sometime in the late 1930’s. Initially he accepted Hitler as truth but thankfully he saw the evil for what it was. He then wrote that poem. His name was Martin Niemöller. We could very easily insert groups of people that we are witnessing this happening to in our country today, Muslims, Latinos, Jews, Haitians, Cambodians, Vietnamese are all being denied entry or deported back to dangerous situations or countries they don’t even know.
Shortly after finding that poem I stumbled onto the FaceBook page for shutting Homestead Child Detention Camp in Homestead Florida. I was aware of what was happening on our southern border. But seeing witnesses there helped me see that we can raise our voices together and have an impact against evil. So I decided to stop “wading tentatively at the edge” and jump right in. I asked how I could help. I’m not going to say that this actively helping a group to work to shut down a terrible place is easy. It’s not. And I’m not even on the front lines. But while it’s not easy, I feel like I’m doing some little part to counter the evil narrative coming out of DC, many of our state capitals, and in the comment sections of our local newspapers.
Do we feel like it is all too much to handle? Yes, I think it is safe to say that we do. I know I do. It is designed to do that. The chaos and cruelty and the corporate greedy takeover of our government is all designed to make it feel like it’s all too much to handle. But you know what? There is a secret to overpowering it all. Breathe. Yes, breathe. When we are feeling so overpowered that it is too much to handle we breathe into it and keep going. Taking it one moment at a time. One day at a time. We keep going because our next generations need us to.