Working for a New Day

“no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Warsan Shire

I look through my computer screen at a woman doing her best to raise her children. As we prepare for a Zoom tutoring session, I listen to her as she tells me her new working schedule. Nights, in a nursing home, during Covid. She comes home in the early morning hours after spending the night caring for the elders of others. She sleeps for a few hours and then takes over being the mother of several children who are home all day due to Covid. One is falling behind in his schoolwork. It’s common these days.

She looks tired but she smiles. The stress is obvious. I wonder if she experiences the cruel stares and comments so many like her do. I wonder how anyone could be cruel to her or afraid of her. She is a newly settled immigrant. She is from a western country in Africa. I don’t know her own personal story but knowing that she is a refugee from a country that is engulfed in civil war, I can imagine the horrors she has witnessed, experienced, and fled from. How is it possible to be so unkind to those who have suffered so much?

After the tutoring session with her oldest son is finished, I go online. I read an article by a local mainstream news source that my newly elected legislator refers to as fake news of the liberal left. The article is about an a man from Mexico, the country. He was recently arrested for being here, in the United States. The comments are full of hate, fear, and incredibly cruelty. Like our president, they do not see him as a person. He’s just another “illegal”, void of human qualities. Do we wonder why he is here? What did he run away from? Who does he send money back home to? Are they safe? Does he miss them? Do they miss him? Those who post such comments miss the reality that he is someone’s dad, son, brother, cousin. As I read the comments I think of this mother I am so honored to work with and the thousands like her. Doing work that many who post such comments would never do. Harvesting the food we eat. Slaughtering and preparing the meat we eat. Cleaning the homes we live in. Caring for the elderly we cannot or choose not to care for. Every family has a story. Including those seeking a safer, better life here. Why is that so hard to understand? It must be fear. Fear is so often the root of misunderstandings and prejudices and illogical thinking. Maybe it’s fear of not understanding those who look and sound different from what we are use to. Maybe it’s fear of losing power and control. I have heard some say that “they” will take our jobs. I don’t think those sharing their hate so publicly want to work in the fields, slaughterhouses, nursing homes, and hotels that so many of those seeking our safety work in.

This New Year may we all find the ability and desire to stop for a second and question our prejudices, for that is what these are. Listen to the stories being told, look at the people telling them, and see them, hear them, as the persons they are. May this be a new New Year. One filled with acceptance, empathy, and compassion.

Mary

What’s Next? Postcard Campaign #2 – End Child Detentions

Artwork by Child held at Tornillo Child Detention Camp outside El Paso, TX

The past 4 years have been brutal on those seeking asylum in our country. As the country prepares for a new administration, a group of dedicated immigration rights activists have been meeting to decide, What’s Next? What is next with immigration policies in the United States? We are focusing our pressure on the incoming administration to do what is legal and right and humane, through a bimonthly postcard campaign. Our goal is to flood the offices of 4 major decision makers with thousands of postcards every two weeks through March. The purpose is to keep the light on what is happening along our southern border and throughout the interior of our country, with the goal to place humanity rather than cruelty at the center of our policies. Finally, we have a window of opportunity to make sure that Never Again means Never Again.

Note: The first Postcard Campaign, End MPP, was sent out earlier in December. This post has information and instructions for the 2nd campaign, End Child Detentions, which will go out between January 5-8. We plan to have 7 postcard campaigns that will take us through the winter months.

This 2nd campaign, End Child Detention, postcards are available at the link below. There are 4 postcards to one sheet of paper. Print that one sheet of paper onto card stock (60ish lb works well), cut out, write your brief message, put on postcard stamp, and send between Jan. 5-8.

Please follow specific instructions below:

Postcard link: End Child Detention,

Instructions

This campaign is being sent to Joe & Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, Alejandro Mayorkas (nominated to head Department of Homeland Security), and Antony Blinken (Secretary of State nominee). To make this a successful campaign, please follow these instructions for printing, writing and mailing your cards:

1 – Download Postcard #2 (image from “Uncaged Art”, artwork from a child held at the Tornillo Child Detention Camp, courtesy of University of Texas El Paso) – available here:

https://tinyurl.com/yaywy47y

2 – Print your postcards:  Four postcards per sheet, double sided (needs to include the photo credit on the back) on card stock.  You can purchase card stock and cut apart or Avery has postcard stock available that is perforated for separation (any of their products that are 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″, 4 per sheet). If you do not have capability to print double sided, you can print single side.

3 – Write your postcards.  The theme for this card is Never Again Child Detentions! Here are some ideas, but we encourage you to use your own words:

  1. Children belong with their families.
  2. Detention is harmful to children. Detention = jail.
  3. Place children with families or sponsors, not in detention.
  4. Once you take office – What’s Next for the children who cross our border?
  5. We are counting on you to keep children and their families safe and together.
  6. It is immoral for private companies to make money from keeping children in detention centers. 
  7. Child detention – Never again.

4 – Sign your name, including your City and State

5 – Address the cards to:

**Joe and Jill Biden

President-Elect

United States of America

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW 

Washington, D.C. 20230

**Kamala Harris

Vice President-Elect

United States of America

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW 

Washington, D.C. 20230

** Alejandro Mayorkas

Secretary-Designate, Dept. of Homeland Security

℅ WilmerHale Washington DC Office

1875 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20006

** Honorable Antony Blinken

Secretary of State-Designate

℅ Foreign Policy for America

1302 K St. NW

Suite 300W

Washington, D.C. 20005

6 – Apply a 35 cent postcard stamp to each card

7 – Drop your cards in the mail between January 5-8

Thank you so much for your efforts, support, and care. Together we can make Never Again mean Never Again.

Mary, Karla, Julie, Glen, Patty, Nancy, and Margaret

Finding Ourselves

From the “Find it at Viles Arboretum!” card deck by Serena Sanborn

“When traveling quickly, they will hold their tails well above the snow, but if they are walking, you will note the distinctive trail left by their tail.” Track of a Mouse card by Serena Sanborn

Depending on your perspective, it’s been a rough few months. For some, it’s been a rough few years. For too many others, it’s been a rough few decades. Something many of us are slowly opening up to is the perspective of others. For many others, not so much.

Yesterday as I sat grappling with the news and a weekly commentary on it by a young news team the above card came in the mail. It is part of a deck of cards done by a local artist and naturalist. Someone I respect immensely. I poured a cup of coffee and sat down to enjoy a break from the reality of our country.

Looking through the beautiful illustrations and reading the perfect scientific explanations on the back side I realized, “This is reality.” There could be nothing more real than the workings of our natural world. I felt that evasive feeling again, hope.

This coming decade is a crucial one for our planet. It is going to take an immense amount of work to shift leaders who are beholden to the fossil fuel industry to a place where they are brave and bold and moral enough to do what scientists and indigenous leaders have been telling us for years, leave it in the ground. As I read an article about a new notion to address climate change by shooting light reflecting aerosols into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s light back into space I found myself shaking my head at the lengths we will go to to keep our addiction to fossil fuels alive.

This is going to be a long haul. After 4 years of giving free reign to the oil industry (not that they have ever been hauled in) it is going to take an immense amount of organization and effort to do what needs to be done to leave our children and children’s children a home planet that is habitable. A planet where they can take cards such as these and search for tracks of little field mice to see if they were running or walking.

A friend and I have been knitting a lot of hats lately. Our small attempt to make a difference in someone’s life. An old friend posted a photo of some baby moccasins she made for her new grandchild. They were lovely. A local shop set up a section of handmade items that are for sale for the holiday season. The fleece angels spoke to me. As I was walking through this section first thing on a cool Saturday morning I found myself realizing, yet again, how important it is going to be for us to take this slow and steady. That old saying, “This is a marathon not a sprint,” came back to mind. As a sprinter in my youth, I have always found this notion to be a tad difficult to absorb. But absorb it we must. If we are going to stay healthy and strong while we stand up against such intense evil power, we will need to be physically and emotionally strong. So I knit.

What kind of trails will our generation leave for the next? Will we see our “tails” or not? It really is up to us; all of us.

As always, in solidarity and peace,

Mary

PS – Thank you Serena for inspiring this writing and for creating such a lovely set of cards. I do hope they wind up in all our classrooms.

To order your own set of cards visit Serena’s Etsy shop at: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Maineserena?fbclid=IwAR2XP_6GPTT9gQGFnvlV1zaRGFVPopyzN1s_AVO9UFLxv_nvapCfXxJYD1U

For the People

The raised fist, or the clenched fist, is a universal symbol of solidarity and support. It is also used as a salute to express unity, strength, defiance, or resistance.” Wikipedia

But democracy is a participatory sport, not for spectators. Jill, a kind friend.

Many of us try to understand our political system and landscape. Some are better at it than others. With Covid here I have an enormous amount of time to read, to try to understand. I still need a lot of help.

Many friends are wondering how the Democratic Party, the “party of the people” didn’t win overwhelmingly. I have thoughts on this.

“Watch what they do, not what they say.” And when I do this, I find immense amounts of disparities.

Many town and state level Democrats in our state are good people who do amazing work. But when we look up at the national level we see… well let’s just say, a change. Following the choices of the new Biden transition team illustrates this idea. Just one example; Pepsi is on the team. Greenpeace is not. Large corporations are on the team, defenders of life itself are not. Progressives? Not sure I see them anywhere. Yet, we folks who align with progressive policies such as the radical notion that we should stop “burning our house down” not only voted for the Biden/Harris ticket, we participated in phone and text banking, post card writing campaigns, social media posting, and even stood on corners preaching, begging, pleading for others to do so as well. Only to see a hawk chosen for the Pentagon (fuck glass ceilings if they are crashed by women such as this) and a fossil fuel enabler and benefactor on the climate team all the while the DNC vilifies progressive wing of the party. So much for thanks.

But back to why, why a state such as Florida could move solidly red all the while voting for a $15 minimum wage. Something brought forward by a “socialist”, who they are petrified of and claim to hate, Bernie Sanders. All the while voting for the man in the White House who is overseeing the massive deaths of 250,000+ people and not doing a thing to stop it.

I find myself thinking about arrogance. About how I feel when someone tells me, in a condescending tone how I should think and feel. Let’s just say that I stop listening to them. I even begin to dislike them. I certainly don’t trust them. I have to be honest, if I’m really going to expect others to reflect, I must too. I too am guilty of this. Of thinking my view is right and how can others not see it. My tone can then be condescending. Why? Because I’m not listening. I’m “debating”. I’m trying to win. Trying to convince someone that their way is wrong and mine is right. Well, dang, it isn’t working. Not one bit. I find many leaders in the Democratic Party to be condescending. And because of that, I don’t trust them. I don’t like them.

But that’s just one part of it. We must circle back to the ” see what they do and not what they say” part of it. The DNC has yet to advocate for keeping all fossil fuels in the ground. They have yet to support health care for everyone and done in such a way that those at the bottom of the pay scale don’t become broke. 2 things. 2 things that if they endorsed would tell us that yes, they care about us and they are not beholden to the donors who give them millions.

Naive? Some tell me I’m naive. They tell me that’s not how you win in politics. So we must support the same evil in a different dress in order to “win”? That makes no sense to me. None at all. It also underestimates the power of the people. Again, Florida is one example who is showing us this.

So what really is going on at the core of politics in the United States? Wealth. It’s all about wealth. Who has it. Who is believed to deserve it. And how to keep it where it is. There was one guy who spoke the other quiet part out loud. The quiet part that says that it is long past time to redistribute it. And that is where both parties lose their shit because they both benefit from the system the way it is. One party may yell racist tweets to get their racist base going all the while the other party yells the opposite so their supporters can stand behind that. The Democratic Party says that obviously racism in any form is wrong. Oh really? They openly preach it. We of course agree, share the message and close our eyes to the root of racism in our country. Economics. For four years I have tried to understand the economics of racism and slowly I am understanding it’s underlying issue is that of classism. If we as a class, (not the top 1% or even top 10%) locked arms….could you imagine.

Question the party that is now in power. And follow Jill’s advice, “But democracy is a participatory sport, not for spectators,” and stay involved, very involved.

In solidarity,

Mary

PS – It should be noted that I did not address the GOP because they are so far gone to the right/authoritarianism that they are a hopeless cause. It is clear that they don’t care one bit for any of us.

A New Dawn Rises

The Morning After Biden/Harris Win

The emotions have been a whirlwind. I started writing this post several times and each time I stopped, not sure how to proceed. How can I feel such confusion at a time of such global joy?

First there was immense relief. I, like millions of others, underestimated this relief. I began to sob, uncontrollably. That response brought home how horrible these past four years have been. The abject cruelty of this administration and the witness, often in disbelief, of those who support him took more of a toll than expected.

Biden and Harris were not my first choice. To me, they represent everything that is wrong with the corporate Democrats and the party that supports them. But they are better than that horrid human who’s occupied our White House for the last four years. And I am very grateful to have a women, a biracial woman, in the White House. Yet, they do not support the progressive policies that I feel our country needs to become as great as it likes to claim it is. This confusion that I felt (and continue to feel) helped me realize that I need to untangle these thoughts because they will interfere with the work that is yet to be done. The bottom line is that we can move forward and work towards dismantling systemic racism in our country with this administration. Not something we could do with the one that is leaving. And we must put in place aggressive efforts to end our use of and dependence on fossil fuels. Dismantling our military industrial complex would go a long way to improve our standing in the world as well as allow us the basic human rights of universal health care and education.

Watching the entire world erupt in jubilation and celebration as we prepare for the departure of this destabilizing person, and all the evil he surrounds himself with, I realize that for now I will join in that celebration. Because it’s been a long, lonely, scary four years. I will rejoice in the fact that I will not be waking up each morning with a stomachache and a growing feeling of dread for what the day would bring. And that is something worth celebrating.

May we each have the ability to make time to stop and enjoy this historical moment. Then we promise to pick up where we left off and continue our work because this administration will require it from us.

In love, peace, and unity,

Mary

Hats for Asylum

Orphan” – A child whose parents are dead. Online dictionary.

Earlier this evening I was honored to listen in on a live discussion from folks volunteering and working along the southern border. It was inspiring. One young woman, whom I have worked with on several projects, continued to inspire me. She’s young, brave, smart, and dedicated beyond belief. She crosses between USA and Mexico several times a week to help asylum seekers trapped in a very dangerous Mexican border city. The things she has seen, the stories she has listened to…yet she continues with incredible grace and determination. Her moral compass totally intact. Anyway, during her talk she said something that I hadn’t heard before. She referred to the “unaccompanied minors”, children seeking asylum, as “orphans”. Yes, that is the word we should be using. It is truthful and evokes strong emotion, as it should. It reminded me of the term “hysterectomies”. This term has been used lately to describe what asylum seeking women held in a Georgia detention center have had done to them. The word does not begin to capture what happened. It suggests a medical procedure women get for a variety of reasons. It does not bring to mind forced sterilizations, which is what happened. Sterilizations is a better word to describe what happened to these scared, traumatized women who were all alone. It was a massive crime against humanity as is our treatment of orphans.

Orphans. We have thousands of orphans asking our help and seeking safety in our country. For years we put them in detention camps where they were treated less than humanely. And actually, this is not a thing of the past as we continue to do this to thousands of children (as well as adults). They didn’t get food they recognized, were forced to sleep in rooms with others they didn’t know. Some were sexually, physically, and verbally assaulted. Many didn’t know where they were or when they would get out. Many were moved between camp to camp in the middle of the night. (Please understand that all these things have been witnessed. I myself witnessed some.) Some of these children were not orphans, but minors who were intentionally and deliberately separated from their families once they hit the southern border. They were taken from them. Their rights trampled on. Our treatment of these children is our ultimate crime against humanity. The ultimate sin, and we intentionally and deliberately cause this harm to children. Many children share how they didn’t know where their families were. Their families didn’t know where they were. Then because separations and detentions weren’t cruel enough for this administration, we began transporting them in planes, what are now referred to as “cattle cars of the sky” in reference to the trains used in Germany during WW2 to transport Jews to the concentration and death camps. They are alone and shackled in 5 point shackles and then flown to the same countries they fled or to countries they don’t know anything about.

I remember when I first began to read about children kept in freezing cold cells where they were forced to sleep with florescent lights on and loud music 24/7. Now if you read the Geneva Convention which states what a country can and cannot do to prisoners of war you will read that lights on 24/7 and ongoing loud noises are not allowed. So we cannot do that form of torture to prisoners of war but we did and do this to children. Thousands and thousands of children. This administration proudly boats how they use it as a deterrent. A deterrent designed to keep other desperate people from seeking asylum here. In our country, land of the free and home of the brave, on our watch. But it isn’t working because desperate people will do anything to save their kids.

Back to the discussion. During this call, the lead volunteers discussed ways we can all help. Yes, it will take all of us to undo the crimes against humanity that have been done to the tens of thousands of people who sought our help and compassion. Which brings me to a knitting project, Hats for Asylum. Up here in the North East, 2,000+ miles from the southern border, we struggle to help in meaningful ways. Those on the border said they need money. That is a constant. It costs a lot of money to feed, shelter, and provide medical care for tens of thousands of desperate people stuck in tents, swamps, abandoned buildings, and overcrowded shelters in cartel land.

This project came about after a friend asked why I was knitting hats to bring to a border shelter; why wouldn’t I make them and sell them so I could send enough money to purchase a lot of hats. Fair enough. So this is what we are doing, knitting hats to sell so we can send money to a very special shelter in Mexico. Notice I don’t tell you the names of the shelters, or the cities, or the amazing people who run them. That is deliberate. Remember, this is cartel land. The danger and threat of harm is real and great. So photos aren’t shared. Names aren’t given. Details are for those who live it day in and day out. But trust me when I tell you that these desperate people living in incredible desperation are just like you, your sister, mother, brother, father, son, daughter, grandmother, grandfather, best friend. And they need us, every one of us, to give immense effort to undo the harm our government caused them.

We can help. Each and every single one of us can help. We can send money, if we have it. Any amount. We can read about what is happening. Don’t look away. And then we can teach others about these immense crimes. We can reach out to our members of congress. Recently one of mine told me that for every 1 call like mine, there are 10 saying the opposite. They need to hear from us…over and over again.

Remember, if we are not part of the solution; we are part of the problem.

“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.” Martin Niemöller, German Lutheran Minister, Germany 1930’s

Please, look. See. And don’t look away.

May we open our hearts and arms to those who need us,

Mary

PS – If you would like to help with this project by donating money for supplies or purchasing a hat, or knitting please leave a comment and I will get back to you. Thank you.

Choosing Me

“Hell might be empty, but there was evidence of the divine in their midst too. The trick, as Stephen had taught him in the garden of Musee Rodin so many years ago, was to see both. Dreadful deeds were obvious. The divine was often harder to see.” Louise Penny – All the Devils Are Here

Today we heard the news that the trumps tested positive for Covid. We also heard the heartless comments from Melania regarding the children on the border. I’m not sure which affected me more. This writing space is a place for me to share my honesty. My honest feelings and thoughts as they work their way through my being. So in all honesty, when I first heard the news I thought, “I hope he dies a long slow death, alone and in absolute fear.” Just as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died, alone, afraid, in his rotten detention cell. Carlos was a 16 year old boy from Honduras who died from the flu because of trumps inhumane policies.

All day I held onto that intense hatred and anger and ill will. I shared it with a few friends and family. I swore a lot. I closed my heart to nothing but loathing of this couple and those they surround themselves with. Today I also heard that Anderson Cooper released an audio of Melania swearing about the kids at the border. Her jacket above, which she wore when she went to the border, actually sums up her ill, twisted feelings. It became painfully clear she is as low as her husband. They deserve each other.

It’s rather scary how quickly we can go to that dark place. I realized this first hand as I became aware of what my first thought was when I heard the news. As you can see, my thoughts weren’t from taking the high road, and I didn’t even come close to traveling on that road until I read the line above.

As the day progressed, I became more and more angry. I was angry at these immoral, dangerous humans and the harm they have caused so many people. I was also angry at the scolding on social media about how we should be better than the thoughts I was thinking. It reminded me of years ago when “friends” told me I needed to forgive. It just made me more angry. You cannot push someone to feel those holier than thou feelings if they aren’t ready and I must admit that I wish people would stop trying, because it’s wrong and thoughtless.

Finally after a walk with the dog, a few hours reading a good book, staring out the window at the rain soaked yellow and red leaves, and a good local pizza for dinner I began to feel differently. Here’s the thing. I didn’t feel differently because I was shamed into it (never lasts and is never real). I felt differently because I took the time I needed to process the events and my thoughts around them. Most of those who know me know that I’ve worked at our southern border on several occasions and I have spent time with those who have traveled thousands of miles escaping unimaginable violence to ask for safety from our country. But instead of safety, they were greeted with more unimaginable violence. While this post isn’t about that,I think it helps frame my thoughts and reactions today. Talking with people trapped on the border, who went through the iceboxes, experienced intense violence and/or lost family members to violence, and now live in dangerous shelters or tents in dangerous cities, it was incredibility clear to me that these are good, kind, severely traumatized people who need our help. But what they got from this man with covid and those who work with him is vial hatred and incredible cruelty.

After the debates people were on social media asking if you were embarrassed to be a United States citizen. I laughed. That happened for me each time I went to the border and worked with the people we intentionally harmed. I was never so ashamed to be a citizen of this country that has all the power in its means to help them but instead chooses to harm them.

As I read that line above, I realized how tense my body was, how angry I was, how much hatred I held. And just like that I released it. It was gone. I, in my own time and on my own terms, came to realize that those feelings and thoughts are what got us to where we are. They made me feel like that asshole won and I was down in the dark, upside down world with him. I didn’t want to be there anymore. And just like that I was lifted up out of his darkness. I felt lighter. My headache and stomachache were gone. You may wonder if now I’m in a place where I accept them and like them. Hell no. This regime is a fascist regime and I want them all gone, out of our lives and government. Some say maybe this will soften them. Well I’m not that delusional. Sure it would be wonderful if he saw the light but I think they are all well beyond that capacity.

Something many of us see everyday and maybe we notice it or maybe we don’t, is that there are good people out there. Good, kind, decent people. They are the divine. As the quote above reminds us, sometimes they are just harder to notice in all the noise of hate being spewed. Look for them, the divine. Notice them. Enjoy the moment when you do.

When you are strong enough and ready, and it’s on your terms, see if you can choose to rise up from the dark muck he has dragged us down into and choose the light. If you are ready and able to, it feels better. It doesn’t affect him in the least but it sure does affect us. If you are not ready, that’s ok too. You can hate him all you want. He deserves it. But if/when you can, choose you. I chose me because I came to the conclusion, fuck trump; he’s not taking my soul too.

In love and solidarity, Mary

Gathering Strength and Weathering A Storm

The drought this year has withered the flowers of my new gardens. I miss flowers. They bring such beauty and joy especially during such dark times. Today it is raining. Raining water for my flowers and hope for our state.

Hope is a funny thing. Many years ago, as a little girl, I planted flowers with an elderly neighbor. She shared why she grew them. They brought her beauty. Also many years ago, as a little girl, my grandmother told me about her husband the fire chief and bootlegger. During that time, The Depression of the 1930’s, my dad lined his coat and shoes with newspapers and stood in bread lines for him and his sisters. I find myself thinking about those stories as we live through another historically depressing and difficult time. One in which hope is evasive yet so needed.

Many around us, especially our neighbors from other countries, see the collapse of the United States happening before their eyes. They grieve for us, and themselves. I tend to agree with them that we are well into this collapse. Rather than go into all the obvious clues and patterns, I think we need to focus on hope. Hope fueled with plans and actions to stop it in its tracks and reverse the damage. Now let’s be clear, this is damage that has been occurring for a very long time. Some say since Nixon. Some say since Reagan. Some say since slavery. I say since the first white European set food on this continent. Whatever the starting point; it has certainly escalated since men like Reagan and the Christian conservative movement took power. This administration is the climax.

Forever, men have tried to keep women “in our place”. White men have tried to keep Blacks, and Asians, Indigenous, LGTBQ, and Immigrants “in their place”. Repressed groups share many similarities. It is these shared experiences that can help us come together, to see the systemic issues of white nationalism and supremacy at work in our country right now, and unite to end it. This isn’t going away willingly. Powerful white men who’ve held the power of our country for centuries aren’t just going to give it away to the rest of us without a huge uprising. That’s where we are now. While we’ve been here before (somewhat), we haven’t quite seen the convergence like we are witnessing today. Watching the evil pour out of those who see their power being striped away makes it clear that they are giving it their last desperate shot to hold onto it. But we don’t have to dance their dance.

It’s hard to step out of a dance. I struggle everyday not to dance with them. At times I succeed and at times I don’t. But it’s my north star. Don’t dance the dance. Make our own dance. Make our own narrative. Work with other like minded folks to take the spotlight off the corrupt and powerful white men.

We are about to witness and experience the climax of this. I have a feeling it’s not going to look or feel good. And I am assuming I am not alone in my fear. We have a choice with how we handle our fear. We can give into it; let it win, or we can beat it down and rise up and use it to power us and overcome it and those who are actively trying to oppress us. This isn’t new. History is full of episodes when the people rose up against tyranny. Pull from that historical DNA to do “the good trouble” that is needed of every single one of us right now. Some of us are on the front lines working 24/7. I thank them. With every fiber of my being, I thank them. I am not there; yet. Fear has been winning with me. But I continue to get up every morning and fight that big monster, fear. An email I got last night helped me realize that I need a group. A group of like minded folks who will encourage me to keep going. And being part of a group will help me to encourage others to keep going.

We can’t let the bastards doing everything in their greedy, cruel playbook win. When we back down; when we do nothing because of fear, they win. And their win will effect our children and our grandchildren.

So what can we do? Vote. Vote early and in person if you can. If you can’t vote in person, vote early and by mail. Early meaning your ballot is in the mail box by Oct 20th. If you are not working, ask your town office if they need help with polling and volunteer to be a poll worker. Ask your neighbors and family if they need help voting and help them. Do they need help ordering a ballot and voting? Have you been reading about “The Red Line”? The red line is the line that symbolizes the edge of democracy and actions that cross that red line mean that democracy has been stolen. Be ready to act if the red line of democracy is crossed because if that happens it is clear a coup is being attempted. What will crossing that red line, a coup, look like? It may look like several things but the most expected is a stop to the counting of all the votes, in particular votes by mail that tend to come in after Nov 3 and tend to be by Democrats. That’s what it will look like. By not counting all the votes a coup of our government power and democracy are in active play. There are some guides to help with this. I will share these links once they become available. Several are in the works now.

Most important? Hope. Let hope infuse you with power and action. If you are in a state of depression or inaction (who isn’t!?) reach out to someone. We fall when we are divided; we stand strong when we are united. We all know that old saying. So unite with someone or some group to regain your power. Then use your power and voice to speak out in what ever way that works for you. You do not need to feel like you are alone, because you aren’t.

Let’s summon power from each other to capture the amazing strength and determination that the flower vendor has. She is showing us the way.

In strength and solidarity,

Mary

When Capitalism Refuses to Die

“Hell is empty, Armand,” said Stephen Horowitz; is the opening line to Louise Penny’s newest book. After much anticipation and even more patience, it arrived in the mail today. As I opened it and read that first line, I closed it and poured myself a cup of chamomile tea. You see, I had just spent a part of the morning on the phone with my son.

My son is in Vietnam. He’s been there for 7 months. About a week after he arrived, they shut their borders because of the presence of Covid 19. Since then the borders have opened and closed again. On top of that, borders around the world are closed to those who carry USA passports. He can’t leave. He tells us that Vietnam is a beautiful country with beautiful people. But it’s hotter than hell. In our conversation he was telling us how he is trying to get to Hanoi to see the American War museum. He knows he needs to emotionally prepare himself to see the images of what our country did to these beautiful people and their land. I told him I was beginning to phone bank for Biden this week.

He cried.

It is important for us elders to stop and listen when strong youth sob.

“When I was watching the Democratic National Convention, I felt like I was watching my own funeral,” he said.

I didn’t need to ask him why. I knew.

We are in a delirious world when we celebrate a man and woman and the party they represent when none of them prioritize the climate and health of our planet as the most important, number one thing that needs to be addressed. That silence was clear during the convention and has been clear for 2+ decades. Rather than ramble on with references and footnotes to support this, I want to keep the focus on our youth.

About a week ago the New York Times put out yet another critical essay on the climate catastrophe that is unveiling itself to us all. It was beyond sobering. It was down right horrifying. Us elders will be dead when the worst of it comes to light. But my kid (and yours), the ones who sob because they rightfully fear their future, they need to be heard as they come to terms with this and grieve. While many of us are rightfully focused on the man who will more than likely steal the election yet again, there is a generation or two who look to the future with a deeper fear than anything we elders might feel.

I will vote for Biden. But I will do it with a heavy heart. I wish I could say that I think he will address the climate crisis that is unfolding as I type, but I don’t. I do however hope.

There is a lot of awfulness going on in our country and around the world right now. We can list any number of evils that scare the heck out of us, with Covid 19, the unwrapping of white supremacy, and the blatant inequality around us as high on that list. But as my son so viscerally observed, it all means shit if our climate goes to hell. And the thing is, it is well on its way.

What will it take for us to see our youth, hear them, feel their fear, and do something about this? Something drastic, major, and all encompassing.

When I hung up. I sobbed too. Because I know the answer to that. There is a very unique hell that runs our planet. It is called, capitalism. And capitalism just won’t allow us to put the climate where it belongs, front and center in all our deliberations.

As I hold you in my heart, please hold our youth in yours.

Mary

When We Bring a Little Bit of Home With Us

A few simple yet cherished items that helped me feel at home in my new home.

All around the world people are fleeing their homes. Some because of climate. Some because of war. Some because of gang violence and/or crippling poverty. But they all have something in common. They left their homes and items they cared for behind. Some even left loved ones behind. The sadness, guilt, and worry must be overwhelming. And what about pets? Surely some left pets behind. That would just crush my heart. I’d have to be pretty scared to leave my dog behind.

We just left our home of 20 years. We chose to. We moved back to the country and into a smaller home. As I was unpacking a few cherished items and putting them on shelves I found myself thinking of the families around the world who have left their homes. Since I’ve been to Matamoros and Juarez along the Mexican border, I think of those trapped there. Our country won’t let them in. Even after fleeing unimaginable violence and traveling for weeks through incredibly dangerous territory, we won’t let them in. Many are living in tents, in shelters, or on the streets on the other side of the border. They are scared, exhausted, and some are sick.

When we began preparing to move I got cranky and anxious. I wondered if we were making the right decision. I thought about the years of living there and raising our kids there. I felt a bit sad. Yet I knew where we were moving to was safe and the passage to my new home would also be safe. I am not an asylum seeker or a refugee. How must it feel to leave everything you cherish behind and head out on a journey you know will be dangerous? How scary it must be to head for a new land you know will probably not welcome you. Yet they pack up their meager belongings and leave. Because that’s how desperate they are.

Once we moved and I unpacked item after item my breath began to slow and I began to relax. I felt happy as I unwrapped delicate things and a safe feeling began to envelop me. Seeing things that are familiar to me was reassuring. Again I wondered, “How must it feel to leave it all behind?” I think I have an idea. Sad, so incredibly sad, and scary beyond belief.

As each day passed and we continued to unpack our things and our pile of boxes got smaller, my world began to settle in and feel safe. Again I thought of the families living in tents, shelters, or on the streets in a country with an unfamiliar language, and unfamiliar customs. A land that was unwelcoming and openly hostile. In the case of the United States, a land where men can take your children from you. I can’t even imagine that without feeling a gut punch of fear and overwhelming grief.

Today a hurricane is hitting the east coast of TX/Matamoros Mexico, right where the tent encampment is. How will tents hold up to the rain and wind that is coming their way? Who can help them? The children will be so very scared. The adults undoubtedly will be as well. Team Brownsville and The Resource Center of Matamoros and the Sidewalk School for Asylum Seekers will be there to help when the storm passes. They will need our help in rebuilding. Please donate what you can and be as generous as you can. Click on the blue words to go to links to their GoFundMe pages.

So many issues are tearing us and our country apart right now. It’s impossible to keep on top of all of them. That is part of the plan. Be gentle with yourself as you navigate the issues in front of us. But please, don’t drop this one. Don’t forget that there are still concentration camps on our border, and around our country, housing families and children. Children are still being separated from their families. Families are still living in unsafe and horrible conditions at our border. This is our WWII Germany. Please do not look away.

Peace, Mary