Rely on human goodness. Stay together.
– Meg Wheatley
How do you keep doing this?
When people ask me how I personally persevere in this political climate, I have a very different answer today than I did two years ago. I have come to understand that I’m one of many in a movement toward justice, fairness, and democracy. I assent to do my part, but I am at peace knowing I alone cannot do it all. The rest is up to others. This is how it should be.
Releasing the hero
Before I understood this, I let Obama be my hero. We’re all good, I thought, a Black president means the nation is coming to its senses at last. I thought his presidency absolved me of participating, fully content to let Barack The Hero do the work.
But do you remember when McConnell refused to conduct Senate hearings for Merrick Garland? Do you remember all the people in the streets with signs and shouting, insisting on hearings? Me either. I wasn’t the only one thinking Barack would save us from an incompetent (and—now we know—a very compromised) majority party. My hero did not save us.
Who writes the future?
If you have been hoping a hero would show up and save us from this mess, it’s time to let go of this idea. For some, it’s been Robert Meuller. For many, it’s any candidate running in 2020. The truth is this: the plan to undermine our democracy is vast and complex, it is beyond one mere mortal to repair.
Releasing others from being your hero is a profound service to our struggling institutions. Not just because “I alone” is dangerous to democracy, but each of us is called to play a part in writing the future. We can look to others to inspire our path, but only each one of us can fill the role for which we are uniquely qualified.
Consider a different way to be engaged
Imagine a flood is coming. A line of people fills up sandbags and tosses them hand to hand to create barriers that will redirect the water. That’s what it looks like when a community of committed people shows up and works together. Every person on the line is a hero. The woman with the shovel is a hero. The person placing the sandbags is a hero.
Choosing one another
It takes faith that the wall of sandbags will hold. Each person does their part, and the community must have faith that each person did their best. They know they will try again if the outcome is not ideal. Together, they accomplish together what one person never could.
Choosing one another is not easy because we are afraid. Western thinking reveres individualism. At some point, we must come to a place of choosing one another with our whole hearts. Not because it is easy, but because it is necessary. The quote above reminds us to rely on one another as we sandbag to protect what’s precious against the current of nationalism and dictatorship.
I persevere in this work because I’ve learned that no one person can do this work (including me), but all of us can.
Will you take this sandbag?
I invite you to consider this week’s AoC Checklist a symbolic sandbag. It’s only a little heavy, but you only need hold it a moment. People of conscience across this nation are lined up beside you to do their small part.
Will you take a place in the line this week and work alongside to divert the flood?
If so, open this week’s AoC Checklist.