Poetry which heals me

Out of respect for the labor of artists, I’m not copying the poem here, but The Art of Blessing the Day by Marge Piercy sooths my soul in some essential way. I value Piercy’s love for the power of attention to the small riches of life and her injunction that

What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.

I thought it might ease you a little as well.




What a long strange week it’s been


I am growing weary of the drip drip drip of reading (scanning) and posting the information we are sharing to support each other and figure out how to navigate this unnerving new situation . This post is my experiment in a new way of processing the information: I’ll keep consuming what comes to me, and “like” the ones that make me smile, think, or appreciate someone’s vulnerability, but I’m setting aside the ones I want to send on. These I will revisit to see if the interest held and look for patterns. What follows is what I noticed the first time I tried this. (Material from 1/23 – 1/27)

Most of what interested me this time relates to our shared post-election life. For the most part, I’m assuming the things I refer to are general knowledge or easy to find. Let me know if you want sources. The general categories are:

Evidence of the problems:

·         Replacing “Equality and Social Progress” with “Law and Order” on the WH website. More people are going to be killed by those paid to protect them (and others), and more of them will be People of Color.

·         Repression: Bannon telling the Press to “shut up”. (Does he know what’s in the constitution?) and shutting down reporting of government funded climate science. (To be fair, I haven’t check that this isn’t normal procedure… I just don’t think EPA, NPS, and NASA rogue twitter accounts suggest everything is fine.)

·         Gaslighting: Others were more important, but the No, It Was Sunny example floors me for the simple, straightforward, ignore-the-evidence-of-everyone’s senses gall of it. We have made progress… a few weeks ago NPR was coyly referring to itself as “fact based news”, now mainstream publications are calling, um, misrepresentations lies, or at least “disproven”.

·         All the grownups left the State Department. What could possibly go wrong? (Note ironic tone.)

·         Bringing his own cheering squad to press briefing (?) and the CIA, then smiling like the applause was such a pleasant surprise.

·         All those folders at his press conference full of all that paper he had to sign to “not run” his companies…Reporters were not allowed to look inside them, and I read/heard that they never actually got filed with the appropriate office but haven’t been able to find that source again.

·         All those Republican governors doing their Republican thing: Did you know that Michigan is banning the banning of plastic bags? (I’ll wait here while you read that again.) And Voting Rights. And restricting access to abortion (Want a bad day, look up Indiana). And repression of peaceful protest (again, just ignore that pesky constitution.)

·         Not gone into here, but on the radar: Threat to cut LOTS of regulations, health insurance, the desire to reinstate torture (though Mad Dog said that can’t happen), education, Russia, ethics, preparing to sell off our public lands, immigration, climate change, sexual assault prevention, geopolitics, Tax returns anyone?…. I’m sure I’ve left something out.

How people are responding:

·         My hands down favorite was the unfurling of the RESIST banner over the White House. Honor and delight to the Greenpeace activists who thought of it, planned it, and executed it. Their website doesn’t say anything about arrests, but hard to imagine there won’t be financial consequences for them. I’d love to have seen his face when he learned of it.

·         I am also delighted that marching on Washington seems to be becoming an industry: 350.org (climate change) on April 29,  Scientists on March 4 (get your brain hat knitting pattern here: www.studioknitsf.com/2017/01/how-to-knit-a-brain-hat-for-halloween/), and I thought I heard something about a transgendered rights march, but that may have been wishful thinking.

·         Al Gore replacing the funding cancelled by The Naked Emperor (TNE) for a climate change summit

·         Of course, The March. I was at a smallish one in Concord NH, but it was amazing to be part of that global eruption of “hell no!”. That is true along with paying attention to the ways we are imperfect (e.g. not all the way up to speed on the mattering of non-white lives), and the need to use it as fuel for a movement rather than blowing off steam before returning to commentary-as-activism. Rinku Sen at Colorlines helped my check myself about my responses (www.colorlines.com/articles/why-i-marched-washington-zero-reservations).

·         Spike in sales of 1984 reminding us that literature serves essential functions. (I’m a little afraid to reread Handmaid’s Tale.)

Things that still matter but are having a hard time cutting through the new noise:

·         DAPL is still being attacked on the ground as well as through policy.

·         Animals are still being hurt for human entertainment and profit.

·         Mental health is still woefully underfunded, especially for kids.

·         Again, I am sure I am missing many.

How we know what we know:

·         Sources I trust to get the basic facts of a story right include NYT, Washington Post, The Guardian, NPR, and CNN (since TNE woke them up by going after Jake Tepper at the press conference).

·         Sources I trust to be compatible with my bias toward compassionate, equitable justice as a good way to run things and data as a good way to know how to do that include Robert Reich, Bill Moyers, Yes Magazine, and Rinku Sen at Colorlines. Happily, this is not a complete list.

·         I subscribe to or support four of the above, as well as having a gift subscription to Vanity Fair.

·         I’ve come up with a new classification in my head: Investigate Before Outrage (IBO). An example of this is the recent ruling in an Oklahoma court that forcible oral sex doesn’t count as rape if the victim was unconscious from drinking. A close reading of the article clarifies that the laws were changed to call forced anal or vaginal sex rape if the victim was unconscious, but oral was left out, and the judge had to rule on the law as written. There is a lot we don’t know (like if anyone is writing an improvement to the law to fix the omission), but it’s not like the judges who let guys off easy because they “don’t want to ruin their lives.” I’m not always going to bother checking, but I am trying to remember that the headline alone isn’t giving me the whole story. (www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/27/oral-sex-rape-ruling-tulsa-oklahoma-alcohol-consent)

So this is what happens when I try to consolidate all the things I wanted to SHARE when I read them. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime.