The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Monday, March 6

No More Anger and Fear

Since the November election in America, I've been moaning and groaning.  Like many, shock, anger and fear hung over me.  

But recently, there's begun a transition...It began happening with the Million Women March in Washington, DC.
NY Times photo

With my friends, Jan and Bruce, we're making our way to the Washington Mall. Soon we are caught up in the crowd, shoulder to shoulder.

I look around. Millennials, aging Baby Boomers, Families. Grandmothers with grandchildren. Grand fathers too. Gay families and straight couples. Veterans, Disabled, Women with pink hair and others wearing hijabs.

Jan wears her pink pussy-hat as do so many others. 

The organizers of the March had suggested that people knit these hats as a somewhat gleeful way to say “NO” to the ugliness of misogyny.

I step up on the curb to get a better look. As far as my eyes can see, crowds occupy the space from the step of the Capitol to the Washington Monument and beyond.
Maybe It's not a million, but it's more people in one place than I have ever seen and over the years I've been to more than a few marches.

Everywhere I see signs. “Love Trumps Hate; Dump Trump; Not my President.” 

Among the many jabs, there are others promoting core American values - freedom, equality, justice, and kindness to refugees.

My sign says, “No more hate and fear.” 

I didn't know it at the time, but these simple words became my harbinger for a more sustainable activism.

In the evening we make our way to All Souls Church.  About 800 of us are gathering to learn four part harmony to Leonard Cohen's Anthem. 

Candles are passed out and we perform it for one another. 

Volunteers with cam recorders circulate so that a YouTube video can be made

It's quite inspiring. 

Take a moment to see and listen for yourself.

(For a second 1:10, my friend Sally and I are on the stairs in a human chain from historic bell to singers below) 

The March activities are soon over and there's a nagging question. Now what? 

I continue attending All Souls. Along with so many others, we are discussing next steps and trying to figure it out.  I know we are not alone. The same kind of discussions are happening across the Nation.  

One Sunday the minister says with such a big bully in the White House, we need an even bigger love for one another. This begins a discussion about resistance.

Resistance is what you do when faith is tested by the “principalities and powers” of this world, says our minister. It's a response to core values being assaulted. 

It's a relentless effort to meet false tweets with truthfulness; intolerance with understanding; and hate with love.

Another Sunday, the minister gives some guidance for those, like me, who are struggling to find our way during these difficult times. She outlines five tips for resistance.

1.Seek some form of spiritual practice. “We need it to sustain us.” It's not that everyone should sit in a circle humming Kumbaya. No, there are many ways to develop spiritual practice. Find your own way to become more nourished in love for others and connected to God, the source of all being.

2. Take seriously what is being said by the “principalities and powers”. Recently Bannon, chief strategist for the administration, said, If you look at these Cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction.” Deconstruction of agencies and institutions?

Does that mean no more civil rights enforcement by the Justice Department; and no more clean water regulations by the EPA; and no more safety in food and drugs because the FDA has been deconstructed.

Is it the deconstruction of the Peace Corps too? Agricultural Department; Labor Department; Medicaid; Veteran Affairs and more? 

Pay attention. Amidst the clowning and tweeting distractions, they’re saying what they intend to do.

3. Stay close to the ones being marginalized. Some of us are fortunate enough to know people who are immigrants, green card holders, Muslim, Black, transgendered or other likely targets. 

What's our plan for supporting them if and when (we all hope never) their time comes?

All Souls and many churches are taking steps to become Sanctuary Churches. 

You can read more about it here in the Washington City Paper. 

People are organizing and preparing just in case. I begin thinking is there something I could be doing?

4. Be positive in our approach. Many Americans are struggling to understand the chaos since Inauguration Day no mater who they voted for. The minister reminds us “to keep kindness in our resistance.” 

As Martin Luther King practiced and St. Paul wrote, “Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) For me that means letting go of post election anger and fear.

5. Be relentless in our resistance. This is not a time to give up on democracy or a nation we love. 

I was so proud to be an American while serving in the US Peace Corps.  For two years in Ukraine and and another year in Macedonia, I served my Country. When I worked with people, I could tell that they respected America. But now?

It's not a time to destroy the social progress of the past decades. Immigrants and refugees are human sisters and brothers and children. It's not a time to compromise away bed-rock values.  Human rights belong to all.

We have a constitution, institutions and the rule of law. It matters.

A statue lifts a lighted torch over New York's harbor and speaks to me, America and the heart of humanity -

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

With the help of others, I'm looking for ways to support values that are true and dear to my heart. I've joined a new public policy and witness group at Church. Another group is working on voting rights. I'm attending their meetings too.

Whatever emerges, I realize that it's time for more justice work. No more moaning and groaning.  No more anger and fear. 

As Henry David Thoreau once said and still says to us, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” 

I guess it's time to get walking...again.