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Personal reflection

What is the most important thing I could do right now?

That is often my question. A similar version of this question drove me back to school in the early 90s. Then, I wanted to know a more about how to understand what exists and create something new from it; now, I just want to know what to do. Because now we’re teetering on the edge of that era, standing, almost in slow motion, on the brink of another.

People on the racialized intersections of political, public health, economic, social and environmental front lines of crisis are suffering, at risk, and dying. In city’s across the country, as Black people fight for their lives, white supremacists reach for their guns—and white allies go soft. Or, in trauma talk, we don’t fight or flee; we freeze. Perhaps that’s a difference between being an ally to those who were not granted access to middle class whiteness and finding ways to join in demanding the abolition of systems built on exclusion, racial and otherwise. So I keep asking the question.

For the psychologically inclined, I guess that explains why I tend toward anxious rather than depressive. Do I ask as a way to keep moving on to the next thing because I’m not sure how to be where I am? That could be, if and when the question is driven by anxiety. But I experience it more as a practice. I ask: What does it mean for me to be here (as in here on the planet, alive with you all under these conditions) well right now? How I see the world and myself in it arranges the possibilities of that moment in front of me.

But I keep asking, and that might be anxiety talking. I was asking again while washing dishes yesterday. I have so many answers, but I guess I ask again, just to check, because I still feel so sickened, powerless and afraid. If I was working with an organization right now, I could be a part of something more powerful. But then I also wouldn’t have as much time to engage with the students/voters/community members/parents in my classroom or to try to start difficult conversations about whiteness in the city I went to school in.

Is that my answer? Are these the things I think I should be doing right now?: Preparing adults to achieve high school equivalency in their education, supporting powerful organizing in communities I have connections to, and staying connected to my family? I do believe it is, as the choices I made led me here.

Well, not exactly. I had intended the choices I made to lead me to We Tip the Balance – what I saw as a project I could offer for learning together how to build the world we want to live in with each other.

I guess I don’t know how to build a project called “We Tip the Balance”, but I believe the most important thing I can be doing right now is learning how to build the world we want to live in with each other at work, in our communities, and at “home” (wherever home is for us and whatever it means to us).

I think perhaps the only missing part is you, so that we can be in this process together. What is the most important thing you think you could be doing right now?

If you’d like to be in that conversation, reply back. Responses of any format or length welcome.

2 replies on “What is the most important thing I could do right now?”

Neither do I “know what to do.” I’m presently living on the Oregon coast, substantially removed from any protests that I might wish to join. And my mobility is limited by my commitment to stay with my 99 year old father.

Yesterday the sky above and, indeed, the air around me was dark orange from the smoke of fires a hundred miles away. Climate change is already very much upon us. Another Trump term would not only put another nail in the coffin of American democracy (such as it is and is not) but would also likely spell doom for any hope we might have of limiting the effects of climate change. The future of our species is very much at stake.

So, yes, this moment is perhaps one of the most critical in human history. You have written that you “have so many answers”–do you have any for me?

On the other hand, “All is Well in the Great Mess” (as per my book inspired by Chuang Tzu.) The planet does not need saving–it has no need of us. The universe will not miss us. All things come to an end. All things are further transformed. We can rise above despair; which means we can also rise above hope.

But hope that does not still stand in opposition to despair we can also have. We can hope that humanity will prove itself worthy of its continued survival and that it will transform beyond its moral barbarism and into a more enlightened future.

But what can I do?

Thank you, Scott, for being in this conversation with me and for your thoughtful reply. Not everybody need be on the street for us to make a difference; it really does take all kinds.

In the world of words, ideas and vision, the era I am striving toward is not “more enlightened” per se, but rather beyond the limitations of enlightenment in its historical sense as they are currently being exposed, even to those of us who have understood them as timeless and permanent.

In the world of acts and deeds, I think we can get there by finding concrete, real ways to increase our participation in democracy. Whether we do so our not is yet to be determined. In response to both my question and yours, I’ve posted some things we can do right now in The path to the future passes through November .

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