Tag Archive for persist

Nevertheless, She Persisted

by Sara Stamey

“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” Mitch McConnell said after invoking an obscure, antiquated rule to silence Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor.

“Bullshit!” I responded when I heard what he’d done. I was angry, and taking it personally. Then I asked myself why, and realized that it WAS personal—to all women and girls. This is what I grew up hearing:

“Be nice, be ladylike. Don’t talk back.”

“You’re being impudent.”

If I spoke up against unfairness, I was punished, and I learned to silence myself, like so many women around the world. It was a long road for me before I realized that the persistence of the old “power-over” models, perpetuated by patriarchy (our dysfunctional U.S. Congress, anyone?), depends on silencing powerful and thus threatening-to-the-old-order women. Why has my right-wing father hated and excoriated Hillary Clinton since her First Lady days?

My Resistance to tyrannical authority began with the stories and novels I write, in which plucky women freely speak their minds despite the dangers of doing so. In my early science fiction novel Wild Card Run, a young woman escapes her abusive stepfather and repressive homeworld in which women are required to stay in the home and denied the freedoms given to men. She lands on an anything-goes asteroid called Casino, only to discover that even there her outspokenness may result in punishment with the “Steps of Healing,” which would erase her memories and rebellious personality. She would literally be silenced.

I considered the novel allegorical, not literal, in regard to women’s rights. During my youth, the feminist movement had made great strides in gaining rights for women, and I had worked among men in industry. Of course, I had to go through hazing and working harder than the men to “earn” my right to be accepted on the work crews, but I prided myself on being tough and able to take it.

Then I moved to fairly remote Southern Chile, where my former husband and I had bought land to start a farm. I was startled to realize that in this rural area, women stayed in the home while men had the freedom to go out partying and do what they wished. I was never addressed by my name, but was merely “la senora,” an attachment of my husband. A Chilean woman needed her husband’s permission to open a bank account or do many of the things I had taken for granted in the States.

We started building a house, hiring local workers to help with various tasks. When my husband fell ill with a lingering malady, I had to take up the reins to finish the house, and I discovered that the workmen would not take instructions from me, a mere woman. I had to get my husband out of bed and prop him up in the doorway, where he could repeat my instructions. When the house was finished, we planned a traditional “roof raising” celebration with the local families and issued invitations. Only the men attended, as the women were not allowed to come.

In Santiago and other South American cities, where the culture is more progressive, women engage in business and enjoy much more freedom, though still limited by restrictive laws. Even they must watch their step in the more “traditional” communities, as a Chilean friend told me. She and her husband had a summer cottage near our land, and she reported that when she had asserted her authority to instruct a male worker on their boat, he had deliberately tried to injure her with a dangerous “accident.”

In my travels around the world, I have seen that the ancient angers and fears of women still prevail in many cultures, where horrors such as stoning and mutilation persist. But I had thought we were moving past those in the U.S., especially during the Obama administration, with its embracing of women, minorities, all genders and lifestyles. The harsh reality of the oppressive new administration has been a slap in the face to so many of us, including the strong women in Congress.

When I learned of the silencing of Elizabeth Warren—temporary, thanks to her power and persistence—I realized that Resistance must move beyond storytelling, as vital as it is to our culture and community soul. I am making the effort to speak out personally and confront the outmoded, oppressive social model that the current regime is seeking to reinstate. I’m arming myself with facts to counter people who spout “alternative facts” that support the new tyranny in our country. I hope I will have the courage to take physical action if necessary to hold the line and protect our civil rights.

I recommend a short, pithy book, On Tyranny, by Dr. Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University. An expert on the Holocaust and recent European history, Snyder lays out clear parallels between the regimes of Hitler, Stalin, Putin, and others, and the tactics of so-called president as orchestrated by neo-Nazi advisor Steve Bannon. Snyder suggests ways to recognize and oppose efforts to erode our rights, especially vital to women and minorities.

So I join the groundswell and raise my voice against the many forms of tyranny, overt and insidious: “Resist!”

Author’s Bio: 

Award-winning novelist Sara Stamey’s journeys include treasure hunting and teaching scuba in the Caribbean, backpacking worldwide, operating a nuclear reactor, and owning a farm in Southern Chile. She taught creative writing at Western Washington University and shares her creekside land with wild creatures and her cats, dog, and paleontologist husband Thor Hansen.

Sara’s science fiction novels with Berkley/Ace received praise from Publishers Weekly and made the Locus Best New Novelists list. Her Caribbean psychic suspense novel ISLANDS—“A stomping, vivid ride” (Statesman Review)—won the Chanticleer Paranormal Suspense Award and Hollywood Book Festival Genre Award. Her near-future Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION won the Cygnus Award for speculative fiction. “A rocket-paced thrill ride that delivers complex, engaging characters in a laser-sharp plot.”   (Chanticleer Reviews) www.sarastamey.com

Sara’s story “Reset” is included in the multi-genre collection Nevertheless, She Persisted, to be released August 8 by Book View Café publishing.

Here is the Amazon pre-order link for Nevertheless She Persisted

Sara’s Amazon author page  

RESIST, PERSIST, EXIST

by Matt Thuney

We human beings are a cooperative species by nature. We have to be in order to survive. We come together for protection. We come together for growth. We come together to make our lives better. If we don’t come together, we fall apart. When human beings fall apart, civilization fails.

There is a myth that has gained increasing popularity here in America: it’s the myth of the “rugged individualist.” According to this myth, rugged individualists built this country. Lone entrepreneurs moved it forward. Only strong, independent leaders can keep us on the path to…to what? Going it alone as a nation? Ignoring or subduing the rest of the world?

It’s all a lie. “Rugged individualists” did not build this country; refugees and dreamers did that. They did it together, by working together to build towns, villages, cities, states, and finally an entire nation created from a vast patchwork quilt of heritages, beliefs, and visions for the future.

Yes, individuals can imagine and create amazing things. But it takes more than a single person to translate those amazing things into reality. And imaginative individuals do not arise mysteriously out of the ether and develop their capabilities single-handedly. They come from families, grow up in neighborhoods, learn from those around them. Whether they battle their environment or are nourished by it, they are the product of human interaction. And these individuals always receive help somewhere along the way. A piece of advice, a life lesson, someone’s garage to work in. There is no such thing as a self-made man. Man, woman, or child, we are all in this together. Together we achieve; apart we abate.

But it’s a jungle out there, right? An every-man-for-himself, dog-eat-dog world?

Another lie. Exactly how long do you think a rugged individualist would survive alone in the jungle? What kind of life would that be? No man, woman, or child can stand alone for long. And what do you get with a dog-eat-dog world? A bunch of half-eaten dogs. Animals run in packs for a reason. Humans do, too. For one thing, it makes life easier. For another, if you have a big enough pack working together toward a common goal, you can make life better, both for you and your pups.

Individuality is indeed one of the great beauties of being human. Here in America, we especially prize it, and rightly so. By celebrating individuality, we celebrate diversity; and diversity is the key to our survival. Monocultures don’t tend to last long. Being so uniform, they lack adaptability and do not hold up well against changes and challenges. When it comes to survival, conformity is not a good thing.

That is the conundrum our nation has always faced: Celebrating the individual while working together. That’s what truly makes America great: Our ability to hold that paradox in our hearts and minds and to move forward toward a better tomorrow for ourselves and our children and all the generations to come.

But there are boogeymen out there! People who don’t look like me, people who don’t think like me, people who want to control me…The Government!

A big lie, and one that now threatens to tear our country apart. Oh yes, Americans are most definitely diverse in appearance and thought. That is our strength. That is what propels us forward and brings out our unique creativity as a culture. And The Government? We are The Government! It’s not some monolithic, menacing monster that’s out to get us. We elect our representatives. If they fail to do their job, that’s our responsibility.

Responsibility. There’s a word that’s lost its way. Yes, we the people are the government. We can provide for the common good if we truly want it. If our elected representatives are acting irresponsibly, then that’s on us. We can change that. We can make it so that governmental officials respond to our wants and needs, not those of their wealthy donors. Right now, it sure seems like many of our representatives are bought and paid for by individuals who want only what’s best for them. We can change that, too. The Government is not the boogeyman. We, through inattention and falling for those lies, have become our own monsters.

We must resist the lies that lead us to believe we can only trust ourselves, that our self-interests are paramount, that we know what’s best and the rest of the community be damned. Paradoxically, this often-heard complaint is the most self-destructive command in the English language: “Just leave me alone.” You are not alone. You may try to be a “loner,” but you are never alone. Alone is a place where souls go to die.

Resist the lie that someone’s out to get us. Let’s not blame our neighbors, the terrorists, the government. Fear is the enemy. Division is the enemy. Exclusion is the enemy.

We came from all over the world (yes, even the “indigenous” peoples), willingly or not, to create this nation together and to live our diverse lives in harmony and with dignity and imagination.

We must not let this dream that is America die.

Resist the lies. Persist in the truth. Exist together.

Author’s bio: 

For the past 30 years Matthew has been scribbling humor and human-interest pieces and crafting political blogs for consumption in the Pacific Northwest.
Matthew has always been a student and seeker. Early on, it looked as though his path would lead to the Episcopal ministry. Luckily for the Episcopal Church, that path turned into a 40-year detour.

But everything started falling into place when Matthew and his wife moved to the hinterlands of northwest Washington. Lo and behold, he rediscovered his journalistic muse, reporting on his bumbling attempts to adapt to country living; He rediscovered his radio voice when a small band of crazed volunteers fired up a community radio station; and he rediscovered his spiritual roots as new friends and neighbors approached Matthew to give eulogies and even preside over the marriages of loved ones.
Who’da thunk it?

Certainly not his long-suffering spouse Donna, who thankfully remains at his side. Nor their puzzled families, who long ago gave up trying to figure Matthew out. Nor their two-and-a-half cats, who are always giving him quizzical looks.

 

Writer, Announcer, Instructor, Officiant, Community Coordinator

Bucolia: Hijinx in the Hinterlands is now available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bucolia-Hijinx-Hinterlands-Matthew-Thuney/dp/1519400225/

And on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018HMANRW

Writer: https://www.facebook.com/Bucolia/

Community Coordinator: https://www.facebook.com/southforkvalley/

Announcer/Station Manager: https://www.facebook.com/KAVZradio/

Wedding Officiant: https://www.facebook.com/weddingswithspiritandwit/

An Authentic Hero: My Rant on Resistance

 

by Jon Shaunessy

I don’t expect much from anyone any more.

I spent most of my life organizing people to stand up for something, almost anything, they could believe in, something greater and more important than themselves.

I retired from trying to make a living at it but found it impossible to quit completely. So I tried to find something simple, low key, and that wouldn’t matter too much if I [once again] failed miserably at changing anything:

What could possibly go wrong?

It was 2014 and, while climate change might eventually bring the human race to an early extinction, that was way off in the future and everything seemed to have its ups and downs and maybes. Al Gore had made it into a hit movie and no one asked him about it anymore.

I could dabble. I could take my time. No one would notice if I got nothing done for a few years or a few decades. At age 66 I only had a few decades left, so . . .

What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, back in my home town, a little college town in the upper left hand corner, they started building the biggest “luxury college dorm” the town had ever seen. The most grotesque, bloated, monument to hubris money could buy.

And only one man stood in their way.

But he’s not the hero.

But I helped him stand in the way because I thought maybe building huge projects in the middle of narrow streets and tiny apartments and condos would make a bad climate situation worse.

And no one else really cared. And the local papers, daily and weakly, looked the other way. And neighborhood groups stayed focused on neighborhood issues. Global issues had nothing to do with local people.

And then the phone rang.

Someone [let’s call her KLH because those aren’t really her initials and she doesn’t really want anyone to know her name] called me up, out of the blue, to ask if anything could be done to STOP THAT

GOD

DAMNED

NOISE!

She seemed to think that she, mere tenant, a mere college kid, had certain inalienable rights, equal to those of two billionaires living comfortably in a sunnier state in the same union.

Those God damned machines at that too fucking big project triggered symptoms of her PTSD* condition in 2015, before she ever heard them, before they moved their first cubic yard of dirt out of the way and into the dump trucks.

Feel it in her bones, ringing in her head.

Which she refused to ignore, refused to shut up and go away, like everyone else would. She would stand her ground while others drifted away. She would speak truth to power when no one else was listening. Just as she still does to this day.

Just as her sister, Joan, a simple farm girl in France in 1425, seeing and feeling visions that would save her nation but not her life, was labeled a crazy witch for acting on her feelings. They knew where she bivouacked and they knew what to do.

Or her sister, Rosa, in Montgomery, who just sat in her bus in 1955 because she knew right from wrong. And she knew her rights and she knew that the Klan* knew her address.

And the older and wiser leaders of the local NAACP chapter may have looked at her the way most people may look at KLH today. Foolishly idealistic if not clinically insane for saying what she says and never really backing down, never really being as polite as she sometimes acts.

All I felt was blessed, probably the way MLK* felt about Rosa or the Dauphin of France felt about Joan before him.

Blessed with someone, anyone, who would stand up to anyone, anything to get what she wanted.

Wanted passionately for herself, but also for others, more than herself.

So it’s over, right?

There’s really nothing anyone can do about it, right?

So England will win the Hundred Year’s War, right?

And it’s still segregation forever, right?

And we will never, ever, STOP THAT

GOD

DAMNED

NOISE!

Right?

Author’s Bio:  Jon Shaughnessy is a climate care organizer who thinks most people will only take steps to prevent climate chaos if people who already care [and know how to write] improve the “messaging” of the global environmental movement. He has learned from personal experience that most people are concerned but don’t see or hear anything that speaks directly to their situation in the world. He has met many amazing heroes in his lifetime in many different walks of life, in many different struggles, and hopes to find more people like the subject of this essay before he dies. Most recently, he has been associated with Friends of Climate Care, which can be contacted at 360/671-0248 or redjon76@yahoo.com.

AN OPEN LETTER TO BETSY DEVOS

By Linda Morrow 

Dear Ms. DeVos,

Of all the appointments your President – not mine – made to his cabinet, yours was the one I resisted and feared the most. He-who-shall-not-be-named recently said, “Who knew health insurance could be so complicated?” As a retired public school educator, with a thirty-five year career as a middle school classroom teacher, building principal and school librarian, I would submit that providing ALL children with a free, quality education is equally complex.

My first teaching experience took place in an inner city elementary school in Syracuse, NY where 99% of the students were African-American, and most of their teachers, like myself, were Caucasian. In 1963 Syracuse Public Schools did not provide a lunch program. Have you ever tried to teach kids who arrive at school every morning hungry and then go home to a lunch which often consisted of soda and potato chips? I have.

In the early 1990’s I became the Associate Principal of a K-8 school in Vermont’s “Northeast Kingdom,” historically the most impoverished section of the Green Mountain State. Our school population hovered close to 800 students and we offered both breakfast and lunch to our children. But filling empty stomachs doesn’t solve all problems. Have you ever made a home visit to inquire why two sisters were missing so much school, and found them living in an unheated shed with their single mother, sleeping on mattresses on a concrete floor? I have.

As a school librarian in an interstate high school, part of a district that was established in 2000 to serve students from four small towns in Vermont and New Hampshire, I quickly discovered that students did not come to the library just to look for books. No, I had my “lunch-time regulars.” Teens who could not bear one more day of sitting alone in the cafeteria. Teens who sought the comforting refuge of a couch in the library. Have you ever purchased a book such as Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff and then placed it in the hands of a depressed seventeen-year-old girl, in hopes that the groundbreaking novel would help her find a way out of a dysfunctional family situation? I have.

But all the experiences I had as a public school educator pale in comparison to those I faced as the mother of my first-born child born with Down syndrome in 1966. Imagine my dismay when my son Steven turned five and I discovered that the local public school could and did refuse to enroll him in their Kindergarten program. For the next several years Steve rode the “short bus” to his segregated Special Education classroom, away from from his younger brothers, away from the neighborhood kids with whom he played, away from his hometown. Only the passage of PL94-142 in 1975 guaranteed Steve and other children with disabilities the right to a free and appropriate education including placement in an educational environment that allowed the maximum possible opportunity to interact with typical students. By the way Ms. DeVos, PL94-142 served as the forerunner to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) passed in 1990. IDEA is the Federal legislation you initially said in your confirmation hearing would be “…best left to the states.”

Our public school educational system is not perfect, and probably never will be. But public schools remain the best chance many children have to realize their full potential. As a parent I fought to ensure that all three of my sons received the education to which they were entitled. As an educator I know that many children cannot count on their parents to advocate for their needs. Author Paul Daugherty states in his book An Uncomplicated Life, that parents need to “expect, not accept.” I could not agree more. Since you yourself have no experience with public school education, how do you intend to provide continuous improvement and growth for these institutions, who in the fall of 2016 enrolled over 50 million students? You can be certain I will continue to carefully monitor all action coming out of the office of the Department of Education. I won’t accept decisions which I feel will weaken our public schools. I will expect you to educate yourself and appreciate the complexities of a system which serves all children regardless of income, parental involvement, race, immigration status, disability, gender or sexual orientation. For the sake of these children, I WILL PERSIST.

Author’s Bio: Linda Morrow moved to the big city of Bellingham after living for twenty-five years on a dirt road in Vermont’s rural “northeast Kingdom.” She is grateful for the warm welcome she has received the area’s writing community. A special shout-out to the Talespinners whose unflinching support has carried her though the long process of her still-in-revision memoir about raising her oldest son, born with Down syndrome in 1966.