One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. -Clarissa Pinkola Estes
These are troubling times and I have been having trouble forming words. On here, especially. Everything just seems…trivial. And while the online world that we live in today has been so wonderful in helping people from all corners of one’s life and of the world connect, it also has caused major rifts in the fabric of our society and in the way we communicate with one another. Maybe if the person on the other side of the screen and the other side of politics could sit with me and see that my skin is brown, that I am a daughter of immigrants who came from two different parts of this vast beautiful world and who taught me to love my country and respect all the ideals that America stands for, maybe they wouldn’t leave their troll comments. Maybe if they saw the worry that creases my forehead as I think about my Muslim friends who have had bottles thrown at their heads or death threats put on their cars in their neighborhoods they can understand why I marched with millions of other women around the world. Maybe if they knew that I lost my insurance because I had been diagnosed with arthritis and couldn’t get insurance to cover me until the ACA was made into law. At that point without the medication that I needed, I had a hard time walking or using my hands for the simplest tasks at age 34. That because I had no insurance and I needed to see a doctor for a woman’s wellness visit I had to make an appointment at Planned Parenthood. And that while I was there, I felt scared because I was well aware of the violence that people project onto a clinic that serves women from all walks of life in that waiting room, who just needed to see a doctor. Maybe they could see that I am a mother who is concerned for the health of the planet that our children will inherit from us, that water and air is sacred and that if we don’t take care of our earth, it will no longer be able to sustain us. How can I feel ok when I know that friends and neighbors, people of color and from the lgbtq community, are living in fear? We need to stand up and say We Are Here. Hear Our Voice. Maybe if we saw each other as individual humans, each of us struggling with our own fears and concerns, things would be more civil. Maybe. I don’t know anymore.
I have been angry, I have been sad and I have been scared. I don’t know what it going to happen, but I know that I will not sit by. Throughout my life, learning about history I would think to myself- how did people let these atrocities happen and just go about their daily business? I never could understand that. I remember the first time I thought that- when I read To Kill A Mockingbird in whatever grade that was. And then when I was older and I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I felt like my heart would never be repaired knowing that this violence on humanity was perpetrated for generations. There was another book I read, that I no longer remember the title where I felt the fear of the main character as he tried to evade the cruelty of the Nazis in his native Poland. And recently I finished reading one of Louise Erdrich’s books that brings us into the unjust reality currently on native american lands. I myself have experienced racism as have my family members and many friends. I am no stranger to it.
But what can we do?
I can speak out. I can stand up. I can call my government and tell them I am a constituent that votes in every election. Every election. Even the boring ones. I can teach my children to treat everyone regardless of what/where/why with respect and kindness. I can reach out to my neighbors, my community and know that I am not alone and that they are not alone. I can plant native seeds in my yard to help the pollinators do what needs to be done. I can educate the next generation about the fragility of the ecosystem and that we need to be stewards. I can read, read, read! Reading books like the ones I listed above creates empathy as it brings us into another world, another perspective, another life. I can listen. Oftentimes I don’t want to listen to the other side, but I can try. I’ll be perfectly honest, I have a really hard time listening to the other side as to me it all comes down to choosing whether or not we all equally deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Racism, sexism, discrimination is just not something I can be ok with. I can hold on to the fact that Jesus was a brown Jewish man who commanded us to care for the poor and the marginalized. And I can make art that speaks to my worries and that also speaks to the beauty of this earth. What I will not be is silent. We must bear witness. It has always been the duty of the artists and writers to speak out for what they believe in. This is what we do, always, even before November 8, 2016. It’s nothing new. So please, don’t tell us to be quiet and just make art. Our art is our voice.
My work has always been driven by my concerns and my deep love of the earth and my constant questioning of why are we put here on this earth and what can we bring to it on our short time here. My hands and my mind were made to create and my aim has always been centered with how, in my own small way, can I make this world a better place? And I will continue to do so as long as I am able.
I told my 75 year old mother the other night that I have been getting terrible headaches daily with all that is going on and especially whenever someone feels like arguing with me or putting down the women who marched or the people who are frightened by the attack on our democracy. She said in her sweet voice, “Oh Bridgette, you have always been outspoken about what you believe in and standing up for people all your life. Just take an Advil and keep on speaking. And afterwards have a glass of wine.” Ha!