Home > Love, Social Justice > Shaping the future, together

Shaping the future, together

My husband, Anthony, and I began 2016 with the movie Seeking A Friend for the End of the World.

It was so uplifting that I turned it on again after a few hours of sleep. When my then six-year-old joined me on the couch, we had a short exchange about it.

“Are you crying?” Li’l D asked when he joined me. “Yes,” I told him. I quickly explained the movie’s premise.

“So you’re crying because the world is ending?” he inquired, flopping onto the sofa.

“No.” I smiled, nodding toward the characters on the screen. “It’s because of what they’re making of what they have.”

Last night, as my husband wondered aloud how to ring in the new year. I suggested we watch Seeking A Friend again.

“That’s too depressing,” he replied. “Not that.”

“What? Are you kidding?!” I asked. “Now more than ever, it’s the most inspiring thing there is: a reminder of where and how to find hope in scary times.”

“Sure,” he said without a scrap of conviction.

All the same, we rang in the new year watching Seeking A Friend. We both cried, of course, as we agreed that something potentially heartbreaking was actually pretty darn uplifting.

Thus it was that a fairly random movie selection to begin one year shaped how I began the next.

As 2017 loomed, I’ve felt growing trepidation. Donald Trump will be U.S. president in a few short weeks, bringing in a cabinet that’s rejected any pretense of representing the American people. While elected officials have whittled away Americans’ rights in grievous ways over the last several decades, primarily representing corporations and very wealthy people instead, they’ve at least tried to maintain an illusion of representation.

The good thing about that illusion is many Americans less affluent still retained some important rights; the bad thing, that we retained enough of them that we weren’t really fighting to keep them or gain back those we’d lost.

When I said that the good in a Trump victory was that it would at least inspire people to mobilize and fight for our collective rights, I spoke based on the assumption we’d mobilize, and quickly.

Almost two months post-election, I’m seeing more grumbling and finger-pointing than mobilizing. This has concerned me, because the more time we spend squabbling over the particulars of a single election already passed, the less time we have to figure out how we’re going to work to protect each other now.

Watching Seeking a Friend in the early minutes of 2017, my heart eased. I remembered that there are lots of different ways we can help save each other by our individual acts. It’s not about the outcome. It’s about the processes involved in being for and with each other, and how we build our collective knowledge and capacity as we go.

What can I do as one little person against a machine so vast and devastating? I can act in accord with what I believe, not simply believe it passively. I can learn a little every day, and apply what I’m learning. I can share what I’m learning, and listen to what other people are learning to improve my own effectiveness.

I’ll re-register as a Democrat to vote for progressive Democrat delegates next weekend. I’ll continue to become more engaged with the Democratic Socialists of America and its efforts to bring unqualified equality to all Americans. I will, like at my first DSA-LA meeting, savor the opportunity to be surrounded by people inspired to act by a passion for equality, including experienced activists who can pass on their wisdom to those–like me–new to activism.

I’ll become involved in local politics. I’ve made my initial plans, though I haven’t shown up bodily for anything yet!

Most of all, I’ll continuously seek ways to connect people motivated by different but related causes. Fragmented into individual causes, we’ll have a hard time expanding the floor of the cage. Together, we’ve got a real shot.

 

For one two-hour work of fiction, I’m even more grateful this January 1st than I was the last. In that movie, the future was determined. The present moments leading to it were not.

In this reality, the future is not set. We can change what’s ahead.

Despite a few inevitable stumbles along the way, I believe we will.

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  1. January 1, 2017 at 8:02 am

    p.s. Most of y’all really won’t want to follow me on Twitter. It’s mostly politics!

  2. Ken Jones
    January 1, 2017 at 8:20 am

    With the advent of social media and the toxicity of the election it has galvanized all races, all cultures. We talk about issues that concern us all, we laugh, we minister to one another, we cry together, we humanize those we once never knew. This revolution is about everyone demanding civility, demanding honesty out of our elected officials, uniting our votes towards a perfect union that money could never buy ( Citizens United ). We are the99% MAJORITY.

    • January 1, 2017 at 8:23 am

      KEN!

      First off, I love and endorse what you’ve written here.

      Second, I shouted with joy to see you commenting here. Thank you. And YES!!!

  3. January 1, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Could you explain what you mean by ” unqualified equality to all Americans. ” ??? Even God only offers unqualified love. The children born with Zika virus aren’t equal to your children, physically or mentally. The parent of a child with Asperger’s can’t raise their child the same way you raise yours. If everyone goes to college, what advantage with going to college give anyone — why not start school at age 3 or 4, and let children learn via play. (Look at education in Iceland!) All people need to be equal before the law — yet, contrary to popular belief, all people aren’t (Look at HRC.) So what, precisely do you mean by ” unqualified equality to all Americans. ” ???

    • January 1, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Systemic inequality is represented well by the top image in this post: http://www.popsugar.com/news/What-White-Privilege-40523831/amp

      (There’s a great image somewhere that demonstrates equality instead of inequality, but I can’t find it. I’ll share a link if I do.)

      The kind of equality I want to see is one where neither government nor society places external obstacles in front of people. Each has her own internal gifts and weaknesses, certainly, but the government–and those who shape its policies–should not be in the business of putting hurdles in front of many to create easier access for a smattering. Greenwald wrote a great, highly readable book that addresses some of this: With Liberty and Justice for Some.

      I’m not gonna spend time arguing semantics or similar, not that it’ll necessarily come up here. As I juggle work, family, commuting, and trying to figure out the things I must to know my role in change, gotta keep my focus … while encouraging others to find their paths to active engagement, of course. 🙂

    • January 1, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Quick follow up:

      There’s a fantastic related thread on Twitter, actually! It’s about economic injustice, which is a tool inspiring many of the roadblocks to systemic equality here.

      The link below is to the top tweet, but if you scroll down, it includes a bunch of great links in subsequent tweets: https://twitter.com/RihTweetMe/status/801388008704512000

      “All of us should know that over the last 25 years there has been a massive transfer of wealth in this country…” The hurdles placed before those not already on high are, individually and collectively, barriers to equality within the U.S.

  1. January 6, 2017 at 5:16 am

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