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WE CAN’T WEAR THE GRIEF AND NOT DO THE WORK

I have told this story before, but I see it differently today, so I need to tell it again.  In 2002 approximately 8 weeks after the plane crash MAPA held its annual dinner.  The room was packed Paul and Sheila’s names were being evoked and I lost it and had to go outside.  I stood in the door and had a vision.  An honest to G-D vision, my eyes were open.  I saw two bright lights collide and become thousand of lights.  I have always interpreted that vision as just a premonition.  Because that is what happened.  Those of us who had been laying low, raising kids and depending on Paul woke the fuck up.  We went to work, Wellstone Action happened, Take Action happened.

But, now I think I was wrong.  I think that vision was much more.  I think it was more of a message.  A lot of us have treated the plane crash and its accompanying change in how we did politics as a burden, a weight to carry.  Every year we post our pictures and treat this with longing and sadness.  Its hard not to.  Many of us fell into a deep hole of depression that day and stayed there for over a year.  That brings me back to the vision.  I think the vision is about us being given something.  Given light.  Perhaps the divine light of hope and calling.  Something we did not have before that day.

So if we evoke the tragedy of that day and be Wellstone People we need to acknowledge the gift and the obligation to use it.  If I am right about my vision it also means that this is a living thing.  Wellstone politics is a living breathing force.  And I believe it holds great power if we treat it that way.

I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN THE PROMISE OF LIGHT OVERCOMING DARKNESS

Since the election I have avoided church.  I believe I thought that my disassociative state was safer for me and I knew that church would wreck that.  Well, we went to church today.  St. Joan of Arc in South Minneapolis is a Catholic Church who’s tagline is “we welcome you wherever you are on your journey”.  At the lighting of the advent candle the choir sang Leonard Cohen’s Anthem:

  Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light comes in.

I shook and sobbed.  I could not sing.  I was just crying by the time we sang:

We are our Grandmother’s prayers
We are our Grandfather’s dreamings
We are the breath of our ancestors
We are Spirit of God

Then I thought of the promise.  That light will transform darkness.  Even the deepest darkness.  I remembered how Pope Benedict had ushered in a dark time in the church, away from its vision of justice and service to the poor.  I knew a little about how Pope John Paul had appointed very conservative Bishops and that the pool of Bishops to replace Pope Benedict were very conservative (theocracy above the spirit of God).  But then Pope Francis was named Pope.  I viewed this as a miracle.  I viewed this as the work of the Holy spirit.

As I came back from my thoughts we were singing:

 Keep your lamps trimmed and burning
Keep your Lamps trimmed and burning
Keep your Lamps trimmed and burning
For the time is drawing near
Children, don’t grow weary
Children, don’t grow weary
Children, don’t grow weary
For the time is drawing near

I was overtaken by the feeling that having faith in the face of overwhelming darkness was a choice.  And I chose again to believe in the promise of light.  This is not an empty act of faith. Believing in the promise of light requires action.  “Keep your lamps trimmed and burning”.  We must bring the promise of light.

So for those of you who are having a difficult time coming out of your dissolution your disassociation, take this sacred time (whether it be celebration of the Solstice, Christmas or Hanukkah it is about the promise of light) and commit yourself to believing in the sacred promise of light and bringing it forth into the darkness.

The light shone brightly into the darkness and the darkness could not put out the light. (John 1-5)

 

OMG, I TURNED INTO A PRIVLADGED WHITE WOMAN WHEN I WASN’T LOOKING.

Our Racism lives in our assumptions.  Last week I started going to NOC (Neighbors Organizing for Change) to phone-bank in favor of the “Working Families Agenda”.  NOC is an organization of primarily African American residents from the North Side of Minneapolis.  Their building burned down last spring.  They have a new one on Broadway, an old bank building.  Last week it looked like it should with people just moving in.  This week the walls had a bright new coat of paint.  And I couldn’t stop saying, out loud, “nice paint job” “that really looks nice”.  Then I could hear the galloping of my better sense trying to catch up with me saying : “SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT THE PAINT.  WHAT DID YOU THINK THEY WOULD DO?  YOU DON’T THINK THEY CAN GET THE DAMN WALLS PAINTED.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU”.  Luckily it stopped me from saying it yet a third time.  Our “Race Assumption” are often in the form of low expectations.  We are normally not conscience of them, but the people receiving them are very conscious of them.  I will spare you the details of how surprised I was with how “nice” the coffee shop next store was.

MY RACISM JUST HIT ME IN THE FACE

I am 58 years old.  I was raised in the City of Chicago.  My father was a racist.  The only thing he was missing was a hood.  He stood up in a bar when MLK day was made a national holiday and said: “We celebrate the other day”.  I always fought against it for as long he was alive.  That experience may be why I am so conscious of my own racism.  My racism is expressed by me making assumptions about people based on their race.  A couple of weeks ago it sneaked up on me.  I was walking out of the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis after staffing the Mayor at the DNC meeting.  I was walking by a van with a satellite dish on it.  There were two young African American men crossing the street and they noticed the van.  I heard the voice, “oh they wouldn’t be interested”.  I pushed passed that and said to them “the DNC was meeting”.  They said “really? is everyone here” “is Hillary here”?  I said yes.  And then they asked, “do you think it will be on CSpan”.

Well it just happened again.  I have a young female client, who is “mixed race” who has an abusive boyfriend.  I assumed without questioning that her boyfriend was black.  Did not even think about it.  Just assumed.  Well I was wrong.  He’s white.

We all make these kind of assumptions all of the time.  This is how racism works.

IT’S THE WHITE PRIVLIDGE STUPID

Black Lives Matters announced that they will be disrupting the Minnesota State Fair. i can already hear some of my white progressive friends talking about appropriate tactics and targets.  How SNCC only targeted those who perpetuated Jim Crow.  That we should be targeting those who are perpetrating police violence against black people.  The families going to the Fair aren’t perpetrating police violence against black people.   WELL, yes they are.  The target of all of these protests is WHITE PRIVILEGE.  That is what perpetrates police violence against black people.  What?  you still don’t get what that has to do with the Fair.  Let me lay it out to you.  Every time I read about another black person being killed by a cop I get heartsick.  I get that deep horrible grief in my gut.  And then I scroll down or refresh so I don’t let it paralyze me or keep me from sleeping.  And I can do that BECAUSE I do not have to worry about my children being shot for not putting on their turn single.   BECAUSE I’M WHITE IT DOESN’T CONSUME ME.  I DON’T HAVE TO WORK TO FIX IT IN ORDER TO SAVE MY KIDS’ LIVES.  I CAN JUST SCROLL DOWN AND GO TO THE FAIR.

So I intend to go to the fair this year as if I had to worry about the police killing my children every time they leave the house.  i will go with Black Lives Matter.

LET ME TRANSLATE THAT

So the following was posted by a “friend” on Facebook.  I could not let it stand.  So I thought I would stand in the shoes of my gay friends and translate.

Yes, I am a Christian   TRANSLATION:  You belong to a sect of Christianity which ignores the teaching of Christ. 

I believe the Bible TRANSLATION: You believe in those parts of the Bible that support your beliefs and ignore those that don’t. 

I do not support homosexuality TRANSLATION: You have decided that you should ignore the scientific evidence that people are born gay and believe you somehow have the right to judge people who follow their heart and soul as to who they love.   

Or homosexual marriage  TRANSLATION: You believe that your particular interpretation of Christianity allows you to deny fellow citizens of this democracy the same legal rights you have,  

Yes I still love you TRANSLATION: No you don’t. Love is a verb.  You cannot deny people the same rights you enjoy and say you love them. 

Yes we are still friends  TRANSLATION:  You hope we are still friends so that you don’t have to take responsibility for believing I am less than you.  

No I am not judging you. TRANSLATION:  Now you are just lying.  

No I will not let anyone bully you. TRANSLATION:  You honor a belief system which has caused the death of way to many children of God. You not only let me be bullied you encourage it.  

THEN IT ENDS WITH

But realize that name-calling and stereotyping those of us who stand for what we believe is exactly what you don’t want done to you.  We have a right to speak what we believe, same as you have a right to say what you believe.

NO, WHAT WE DON’T WANT DONE TO US IS BE DENIED BASIC CIVIL RIGHTS.  YOU DO HAVE A RIGHT TO SAY WHAT YOU BELIEVE.  BUT YOU ALSO HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THOSE WORDS.  THOSE CONSEQUENCES MAY INCLUDE: BEING CALLED A BIGOT.

“THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS”

Here we go.  Last night I was at a gathering with my ageing lefty friends and we were talking about Hillary and Bernie.  Then someone said “I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils”  I responded.  “I hate when people say that”.  I think I went on to explain why, but not in a very sophisticated way.  So I will try here.  No leftist should ever say “the lesser of two evils”.  Why?  Let me count the reasons.

1.  Its false.  Electing Hillary Clinton would not be the same as electing Jeb Bush.  Just like electing Al Gore was not the same as electing George W. Bush. (Sorry Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon but you were wrong)  The election of George Bush solidified corporate control in this country in a way we may not escape from, sent thousands of citizens to die only to make the elite richer and engulf the middle east in flames.

2.  It’s not ours.  It is a right wing meme that is intentionally used to suppress the vote.  The right knows something we fail to understand.  They do not win on issues.  Elections are won and lost on turnout.  And if they succeed in creating the picture that Hillary is nothing more than a corporate shill regardless of how progressive of a campaign she runs.  WE STAY HOME. AND THEY WIN.

3.  It shows breathtaking political naiveté. Too many on the left act like the presidential campaign is a contest that we get to participate in.  It is not.  As politically active people, it is something we must work with.  If all you do, to affect the political landscape in this county, is vote you need to step up your game.  Particularly if you call yourself a leftist.  We will never “get” to vote for a real honest to God populist like Bernie Sanders.  We have to make it happen.  If you are left voting for Hillary Clinton against your will, then you didn’t work hard enough.  Its not something that was done to us.  Its something we created by not creating the other.  But it may not be that what should happen is to get Bernie Sanders the nominee but instead to use his candidacy to build the movement to create the body politic that will save this Country.  The presidential election is one battleground. We must claim responsibility to be fully engaged in the current political reality not expect an engraved invitation to a imagined utopia where the “Democratic Party” magically nominates a progressive to be president.

You cannot use this phrase,  Just stop it.  We can still save democracy.  But it won’t happen by us sitting on our asses hoping .that someday the “Democratic Party” will give us a real progressive to vote for.