The catalyst that got me started with my first Facebook live on calling my Senator was a white guy. A well-meaning but insistent white guy who after a congenial hour and a half coffee chat when I said "hey I have to go pick up some posters for the In Solidarity with Muslims March later" decided that was the time to try to talk about "the Resistance". He self-proclaims to be an independent who in real terms is liberal/progressive and the conversation stayed congenial so it was 5 or 10 minutes into it that I realized he was trying to argue with me. He was trying to correct me. He was trying to mansplain where the Women's March got it wrong. And the phrase that sticks with me is "you all have been so extreme and should find some policy goals and places to work together"...to which inside my head I said something to the effect of "what the fuck, are you kidding me???!? How do you not see what's happening right now" And out of my mouth I said "I think we have a fundamental disagreement about what is happening to our democracy right now. We are fighting for a return to first principles." But he didn't give it up. And so when I finally left, I went to the March and when I got back I was still stewing. It made me so angry. That this guy who placidly saw things, who wasn't personally impacted by the situation, who wasn't engaged in the struggle thought that instead of truly listening and learning that from his white ivory tower *he* knew what was best. A guy who never lived in DC like I had. A guy who had never been a Federal government contractor like I had been. A white guy with all the privilege that it entails in "Manver", the nickname of my new city Denver. Who the fuck does he think he is? And why does he think it OK to overwrite my much more knowledgeable voice on this situation?
Focus not on my anger dear reader, I channeled that in a positive and constructive manner like I usually do. It got me to do these daily resistance videos. But do focus the latter. My voice. I recorded that first Facebook video just as a one-off to show that with a call to my Republican Senator because I decided that I wouldn't let his ignorance be something that lessened me. That quieted me. I refused. I had the womens voices from January 21 still fresh in my head and they were so powerful, and they were so true, they called out to me like sirens, and I answered their call.
I can tell you why I don't do it. I don't do it for the naysayers, the haters, the deniers or the natterybobs. I don't do it to try to persuade people to my position. In a previous worklife I took StrengthsFinders and they have an entire category on Persuasion-related strengths with names like "woo". I had absolutely none of those strengths. I'm known for being blunt and a straight shooter. Know thyself friends, and work with what you've got. So I don't do it to try to outreach to the deeply committeds on the other side who are stalwart in their soldier mindset and defense of their position. And truthfully anymore I don't even do it for the moderately minded who might agree with me if only I weren't so blunt. We've moderated the message too long to help the fragile white male ego get by.
Here's why I do it: because I can, because it's right, because it empowers me and because it inspires others to speak up too. As the Washington Post (monthly subscriber plug!) reminded us after this election: Democracy Dies in Darkness. It is not the people who disagree with us who are the problem, it is the people who are apathetic and don't care. Apathy is a cancer on the body politic, and there is no magic pill to cure us of this rampant cynicism. We have to do the work and healing on each individual of thousands of paper cuts. As a Catholic and in line with many humanists I believe we have an inner voice that tells us right from wrong. I believe it is divine, but no matter your religion or not you can agree that humans have an innate sense of justice. Cynicism and apathy erode that voice and make it quiet. That is where we are. We live in a society where people decided to disengage from things that were wrong and were divisive. And they weren't all major decisions. We live in a society before the election where we tolerated the anti-LGBT family members and accommodated their views by not bringing home a loved one for the holidays. Papercut. We live in a world where we condemn crackdowns on protests the world over but look away when Black Lives Matter or the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors get firehouses and maced. Papercuts. That inner voice of justice doesn't speak only when we are impacted. It speaks when something wrong is happening full stop. We've taught it to shut the fuck up when its other peoples injustice with platitudes like "to each their own" but that too is a form of apathy. One we can no longer accept.
Which brings me to the most important reason why I post my daily resistance, and a reason that has bubbled up over time as I've done it: because it empowers the voices of others who want to do the right thing too. There are so many quotes to this regard it's obviously an existing truth the world over...
"Fight Hate Speech With More Speech"
— American Civil Liberties Union
"Do not wait for leaders;
do it alone, person to person."
— Mother Teresa
"No one can make you inferior
without your consent"
— Eleanor Roosevelt
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
— Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I started speaking up every day because I'm doing actions that are offline, and outside the echo chamber and because people said it helped them curate ways to have an impact. I have kept going every day because I see what it does to inspire others to speak up too. We all need to "keep swimming" like Dory or "don't give a fuck" like the honey badger in these troubled times but it's hard. Our society has hard wired us to do just the opposite.
I do it out of service. I do it because somehow I've become an adult who does not think doing so is scary. What people might see as courageous or fearless just feels like standard operating procedure and not all that special to me.
I do it not because I might actually successfully fend off the bully, in fact in many ways I know that I will lose many of the battles, and as Brene Brown puts it, "get my ass kicked in the arena". I do it because standing up to a bully when maybe you're a lone voice crying out for justice inspires others to stand with you next time. Seeing someone get pummeled and lose that battle even though they were right gets people off the fence and out from lurking in the shadows. And eventually, when you reach critical mass, you will win the war. That's how bullies get taken out. #strongertogether
We all need to stand up now and speak truth to power because only when we do so together can we correct what is wrong. Will you join me?
Explore the silences in your own lives:
Tell your truth
-From Clint Smith's TED talk "The Danger of Silence" as heard on TED Radio hourhttp://www.npr.org/2017/04/07/522858583/clint-smith-what-do-we-risk-if-we-dont-speak-up