Three Weeks

This reminder appeared at our local coffee shop the day after the election.

This reminder appeared at our local coffee shop the day after the election.

Three weeks. Three weeks since 2.5 million more of us voted for Hillary than him and it didn’t matter. I’ve calmed down since then. I’ve been comforted by a gathering of friends for Thanksgiving, good food and conversation. At the table, we signed “Not Bannon” postcards to send to Trump. Richard signed his, “your friend.” I hope Trump gets many.

Some people have made me laugh, including my former student Tim: “I feel like Trump is going to replace the Constitution with the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition.”

I’ve been revived by swift actions many have taken. More than 20,000 donated to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name. He gets a certificate for each donation. That’s special. Ben was one of those 20,000 and he also thoughtfully signed Pence up for the newsletter. Rumor has it some Planned Parenthood staff were so impressed they put a photo of the Vice President-elect on their wall.

Professor Jim, on learning of a possible “watchlist” to expose professors promoting leftist propaganda: “I presume I will end up on the list for teaching that evolution is real, that the main mechanism of evolution is Darwinian natural selection, that climate change is real and driven by human activities, and that we are living in the sixth Anthropocene mass extinction. So be it.” saw a surge in shares. Normally they get 80-100 a day. On November 8 and 9, “more than 550 people tweeted out poems with 720 people retweeting those links.” Popular poems included Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise.” I have always known that poems matter, that, as William Carlos Williams said, “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” It is heartening to this old poet to hear so many turned to poetry for solace.

I was revived by the grassroots revulsion at Trump’s cabinet and staff selections, by how people drafted statements, listed congressional phone numbers, gave tips on calling. Some were my former students, a generation that doesn’t make phone calls, found it hard to do, but did it. I did it myself, got to talk to real people at Democratic offices, mostly recorded messages at the Republicans. Hmmm…

I was revived by New York Mayor De Blasio’s great anti-hate speech, and San Francisco City Council’s proclamation. Go read them. They’ll cheer you up too.

And I was delighted with everyone who declared, “if they establish a Muslim registry, I’m signing up too.”

More than three weeks. I’ve had time to think. Trump changes positions daily, appoints billionaires who will damage things I care about, like public education. I’ve renewed my lapsed membership in PEN America. Trump’s not holding press conferences, berates journalists. I’m a writer, care about freedom of speech. PEN has for decades fought to get writers out of prison in other countries. Now they’re starting to monitor what’s happening here. In case.

I’ve thought about The Divide. I believe not all Trump voters are racists, hate other religions and think covering our national parks with oil wells is a fine idea. I believe those of us in the struggling middle/working class have more in common than we currently realize. We must make an effort to cross The Divide. I don’t know how yet. In my diverse corner of the world there are no Trump supporters.

December is giving month. This year Phil and I are asking for donations to charities/non-profits in our name. We’re doing the same for those we usually give gifts. (Children get a pass.) I have to support the American Civil Liberties Union: they bailed me out of jail in 1967. Beyond that, I haven’t decided. There are so many worthy organizations trying to protect the environment, immigrant rights, health care, election reform. All of them need volunteers. Look at what Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are trying to do and support those causes. Whatever you care about, now’s the time to step up.

I’ll make what donations I can, call congress people, send letters, repeat jokes. (Ferengi Rules is a good one, Tim.) I’ll wait until this man’s in office, see what precious thing is threatened first and then focus my efforts. There’s a reason Maya Angelou’s poem topped the list: hers is the spirit we need now.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

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6 Responses to Three Weeks

  1. Bob Jaeger says:

    Excellent, Pat, thanks. Seems even folks who thought Mr. T was sort of OK are calming down, taking deep breaths, and watching for what’s next. You’re right: conserve energy, focus, be ready to act as and when you can. We, too, donate in the name of friends and family. The needs are too great to shop for needless stuff.

  2. Pat Dubrava says:

    My friend Jana sent me these links to Denver’s proclamations in response to the Trump election. When I wrote this piece I didn’t realize Denver had responded: good for us!

  3. This is more in response to your last post, really.

    Yesterday at a neighborhood party (god bless neighborhoods!) I mentioned to a neighbor that at a lunch I had a few days ago with a local artist/musician, he had said that he goes to sleep at night in a state of dread (he didn’t use that word, but, still, something like that) at what is happening with the Trump terrors of the day, and wakes up in a miasma (my word) of despair (again, my word…he is a pretty upbeat guy and is probably not as consumed by dark thoughts as he claimed to be).

    My neighbor said something like Me too, how could you not be like that?

    Well, I improvised some kind of response, but this is an important thing to consider. We all need to consider our personal mental, emotional, and spiritual (if that means anything to you) health. Don’t let Trump bring you down! How we go to sleep and how we awake means a lot. Gratitude for the gift of life, and how you have come to be the resplendent being you truly are, is a good thing to consider, drifting off. Enjoy your self, roll around in your life, be happy about the beings who have brought you joy. If there are things you don’t like about yourself or what you’ve done, expand your conception about who you really are to outshine those little things. (If “forgiveness” isn’t a word too tainted with religion and New Age psychology, go ahead, use that thing.)

    When you wake up: be happy! A new day awaits you, a day in which you can do good things (or “radiate the virtues,” as some spiritual paths put it). During these days ahead, we need to be strong and happy as we gird our loins (whatever that means…it’s just some Christian term I’ve picked up in my education as an American Puritan) to fight Trump and everything he stands for.

    Sure, I would be all for “giving him a chance,” but this emanation of America’s shadow self gives me several reasons a day to fight against all he stands for, so ima gonna be doing that…after going to sleep peacefully, having good dreams, and waking up with a smile on my face.

  4. Sylvia Montero says:

    Pat beautifully, written. By George, you hit the nail with the hammer.
    I have art exhibitions to get ready for and I simply cannot. My spiritual connection to my inner creativity is no where to be found at the moment. I hear inside me “Friday.
    January 20 is days away.” I feel defeated, I am so tired of creating political art work. I want a breath of fresh air, a clean planet, songs of wisdom not commercial hymns.
    Yet, I think of Goya, Picasso, Kahlo, and others. I get up I teach art at Whittier Elementary, I see all the kids of color looking at me. I create magic, I give them art lessons and I wake up because, a little second grader, is saying today I have art with Ms. Sylvia! We can escape together for one hour. I worry though, I worry about them and what the future holds. Yet, I say to myself , if I give them art perhaps they will never forget me as I will never forget them. My future activism will be to give art lessons to the poor and the displaced as I always have. I like to say I feel hopeful, but
    how I really feel is like I am treading water. Power to the the writers and poets, the artists, the actors, the dancers, again, we will be the voice for the people! Viva la Revolution! As it all begins again!

    • dubrava says:

      Sylvia, you are already doing the important work there is for you to do. Much as we all get discouraged, I do believe our small individual efforts add up to changing the world, whether we realize it or not. Many hugs to you on this snowy MLK morning!

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