Tag Archive for resist

Burn ~ Part 2 (cont. from last week’s part 1): Refusal

by Nancy Grayum

I see withholding as a practice, a way of living lightly, spending small, taking time to think and feel, pacing ourselves. Progressive refusal, increasingly tweaking our resistance to the culture of waste and greed, can create meaningful outcomes.

Divestment from funds that support environmental or social abuse is easy to accomplish, but it can be difficult for people to let go of potential financial gain.  If investing in mutual funds, then we select “socially responsible” and read the fine print.

No banks or investment corporations use my money now. I’ve used only our local credit union, not the for-profit banks, for 50 years. A credit union is a cooperative non-profit, with an elected board that exists to benefit local community members. Bank-initiated legislation constantly threatens the non-profit status of credit unions. Even with strong resistance from members, the banks creep in: WECU sold our mortgage. Their Visa is actually Citibank. I pay the charges quite immediately so Citibank gets zero interest, but the usurers get a take from my vendors, who in turn charge me.

It’s this type of close examination of my own assumptions and habits that leads me to seek and share more ways to resist dependence on an abusive system.

I won’t vote for a candidate who accepts corporate contributions. Thousands of alliances have formed since Senator Bernie Sanders set the example and proved the power of common people during his presidential campaign. As these groups coalesce I will support them in the interest of social justice, education and a compassionate society.

Since the 1970’s everyone in our family has attended to efforts to decrease personal use of fossil fuels. These days I walk and use public transit to schools, markets, libraries and offices, but we also use a gas-powered car.

We support local farms and economies by purchasing locally-sourced fresh food. We avoid buying things that had to be transported by ship, plane, or trucks. But we can’t grow lemons or avocados here; there is still privilege in our purchasing habits.

We recycle and re-use. We also agonize over the omnipresent plastic that is woven through our personal culture like the DNA of living organisms. We could do better.

I resist by protecting my mind. I refuse to watch or listen to propaganda aka advertising aka network programming, so I don’t feed the gaping maw of corporate athletic, retail, political, or pharmaceutical America. There’s been no TV at home since I dialed up the internet in the 20th Century, but still the headlines from around the world swim in our ether whether we want to know about them or not. I’ve always been disinterested in “the news” in a rather snooty way, and continue my lifelong quest for meaningful journalism, verified sources with integrity, and without snarly hi-amp attitude. I wi-fi-couch surf national and international headlines but find other ways to read those topics in depth for free. Breitbart is free. (Opposition research.)

Oh yes, Yes!  magazine makes my list, along with other ad-free print and online sources of news and people in our multiple cultures that interest and inspire me: The Sun, Orion, Crosscut and Northwest Citizen, ACLU, Sierra Club, Northwest Treaty Tribes, Jay Taber’s Salish Sea Maritime blog and Jen Briney’s Congressional Dish podcast. Then I try to budget my stress hormones and let my thoughts compost sans odeur.

While I aim to stay healthy and fully available to family and friends, I now take the time to write postcards to our members of Congress every week–one topic per missive. I sign petitions, forward the urgent emails, then unsubscribe from the flood of solicitous promotions that result from my clicks. I make protest signs, and after years away, show up at protests. I pray that all people and all creatures may experience kindness and compassion.

Quiet time, retreat, solitude are like the exhale after a frightened gasp. Post-traumatic stress after November 2016 made me sick for three months. I seek renewal. Wendell Berry, in the last line of his poem The Peace of Wild Things, says it for me:

For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

We were burned this past winter and the flames are intensifying. But we are still breathing. The deliciously saturated clouds are still floating above, the rhodies are blooming at our front door, and we didn’t use the gas fireplace today. We can’t change our cultural entrapment with the flick of a switch, but we can keep the wicked wizards’ feet to the fire while we continue our own slow burn.

Author’s Bio: Nancy Grayum grew up in the rain-blessed forests and on the salty shores of Washington State, usually seeking the right path, or some divergence. She taught in public schools during the 1970’s, did a stint as a self-employed copy editor, then had a long career in classroom technology support at WWU. As a recovering technical writer she enjoys writing poetry and creative non-fiction, and is a volunteer with Whatcom Land Trust. She lives in Bellingham with her husband Gene Riddell  and their dog, Mr. Black.

Determination

by Diana Dodd

I have a photograph of a small bird that has in the grasp of its claws two separate pieces of pond grass. One leg is extended to the right and the other to the left, and then it is leaning forward to get a sip of water. That is what I call determination.

Determination does not come easily. It requires careful thought and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to reach a goal. In the realm of resistance, determination is key, because there will be times when the resistance succeeds and times when it fails. How many times did the bird attempt his trial of derring do before he achieved the fine balance that brought him success. It is easy, as time goes by and more and more happens in our country, to lose sight of the fierce resolve we might have felt on election night.

In order for the bird to balance on the moment the picture was snapped were all the times that the grass gave way or he misjudged the distance to the goal of the water and he shook his head to clear it off, and try another route. There are many ways to resist. We can support candidates both local and state when the option arises or even consider trying to serve in public office ourselves. We can write to our legislators both state and federal to protect the things we hold dear. We can promote organizations that assist those whose rights are in jeopardy. And on top of this, we must vote.

This first 100 days of the president’s term have been like a constant barrage and as confusing as being in the throes of battle. It can be hard to see what is happening when so much mud is thrown in the water. We must remain vigilant and informed. If a small bird can find the balance in his life, we can find the balance in ours and the determination to stay in the resistance.

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.

The Benefits of Being Wrong

by Barbara Clarke

We were in Best Buy looking to buy a laptop. But first, we were looking for a geek in the familiar blue shirt. “Someone who looks smart and won’t talk down to us,” we agreed.

“Hey, how’s it going?” said a non-geeky looking young guy. We started to walk past him—too cool sounding—we were serious! But, given that it was a late Sunday afternoon and a sales-associate desert, we stopped. Tony, by name, turned out to be so knowledgeable, kind, and so many other fine attributes we couldn’t wait to get home to send off our five-star reviews of him.

Later that night, thinking about writing this blog on resistance, it hit me. Wanting to be right is really a form of resistance—to being wrong. Or that middle place where you are kind of right, but short changing yourself by closing your mind too soon. And then my own examples began to pour out of me. All of the times I had been so sure and had missed out on—well, life.

Here are a few of the costs and benefits of being wrong:

  • This is going to take too long or an even better one—a very long time—so why start? It can run the gamut of a long line for coffee at 7:00 a.m. to signing up to start a memoir. I’m 90,000 words into my memoir—thanks, Cami and classmates!
  • This is going to be too hard. I don’t have the skill set, the training, and of course, the MFA. Everyone in the class will be way ahead of me, right? Wrong. We are all there to learn, whatever our training. When I think I’m simply not good enough or know enough, I lose out. If it were just negative thinking, I’d be more lenient, but this is pressure from me on me to not be caught wrong.
  • I’d like to attend an RWB gathering on Saturday, but I don’t know anyone, and when I picture myself there, my heart races like those “wall-flower moments” from my teen years. What if no one talks to me? Wrong, so, so wrong! I found my tribe. And they are very talkative.

I’ve been wrong on these occasions and many others, driving home with regret as my faithful companion. Now that I am writing a memoir and doing a lot of digging deeper, I found these personal sources of my need to be right—or resisting being wrong:

  • I grew up in Missouri—the “show me” state. A blessing and a curse. We are given a finally honed bollox detector, passed down through the generations. My homeland favors black and white, right and wrong—not so keen on the color gray where more surprises, more choice, and fun reside.
  • I don’t “get those people.” This is so prevalent in today’s post-T_____ election world. I worked in the healthcare racket for fifteen years and can’t tell you how many executives and doctors refer to their patients—especially the ones they blame for their illness—as those people. So now when I see variants of this on FaceBook and in the harsh comments after articles and posts, I cringe.
  • Rather than feeling so right(eous), I’d rather try for understanding. I may not wind up having “those people” in my circle of friends, but at least I don’t want to think of them as the enemy?* Since I’m flawed, seriously so at times, why can’t they be?
  • Being right sometimes—well, it feels good. But, having to make snap or hard-edged judgments, even in Best Buy, to overcompensate for own my insecurities, close my mind and heart to all that lives in the gray area—these are my losses.

I leave you with my favorite poet, Mary Oliver, who, whenever I’m lost or at a loss for an open heart, reminds me:

“Becoming keenly and consistently aware of what’s good, true, and beautiful demands a discipline: we must open our eyes, minds, and hearts, and keep them open.”

*One disclaimer to my compassion quest: my noble venture does not apply to so many politicians. They earn every bit of the resistance we can muster!

 

Author’s Bio:  Barbara Clarke works as a freelance grant writer and is extremely tardy posting to her blog www.thiscertainage.com . She is not tardy and working very hard on The Shape of the Brain, a memoir, and grateful for Memory into Memoir coming into her life. Her first memoir, Getting to Home: Sojourn in a Perfect House, was published in 2009. She uses Beckett’s “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” as her mantra and writing guide. www.barbaraclarke.net

Understanding The Other

by Linda Lambert

You may remember Laura Rink’s first Resistance blog on Ignorance in which she sought “to understand my fellow Americans better,” those individuals who were other—not white, straight, or middle class as she is. She developed a substantive list of ten books.

Like Laura, I seek to deepen my understanding of others, to seek connection, and to have empathy. A whole lot of Americans, including members of my own family, voted differently than I did. To me, they are “other.” And that’s why I requested and picked up the following book at the South Whatcom Library: The Making of the President 2016.

Subtitled “How D______ T____ Orchestrated A Revolution,” and authored by a conservative political strategist who played a significant part in electing Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Roger Stone’s tome was an unlikely volume for me to tote home.

I am reading a book by a man who has written for Breitbart and Fox News, and who has been banned by CNN and MSNBC for his “politically incorrect” criticism of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Roger Stone is a guy who says the reporting standards of alternative media “are superior to the networks and the cable news behemoths.” To get a feel for who he is, watch this interview by Charlie Rose on CBS News.

I am reading a book by the author whose provocative tiles include The Man Who Killed Kennedy, The Case against LBJ, The Bush Crime Family, The Clintons’ War on Women, and Nixon’s Secrets.

On election night, so many of us were gobsmacked: “How could this have happened?” Roger Stone provides his answers, divided into three parts, in The Making of the President 2016 (362 pages):

  1. How D____ T_____ Hijacked the Republican Presidential Nomination
  2. How Hillary Clinton Stole the Democratic Presidential Nomination
  3. How T_____ won the White House.

(In writing this review, I have broken Red Wheelbarrow’s rule to avoid the name of the current president, but omitting his name from the title and headings of Stone’s book is unacceptable to this librarian.–The RWB webmaster made an editorial decision to blank out all but 45’s initials above)

I read with respect for an author who provides thirty (30!) pages of well-researched endnotes and for a writer who has contributed Op-Ed pieces to The New York Times. Yes, Stone is politically my opposite, but what he writes contributes to my understanding of those who voted for an individual I do not respect.

The election of our current president moved me, a newbie to the activist movement to Do Something! My wife and I marched in the Bellingham Women’s March. Then we joined Whatcom Undaunted, a newly formed group founded by Betsy Gross, one of dozens of groups under the Indivisible umbrella.

I lean on the twenty-five smart, involved women who meet every three weeks to have study sessions, share information, and promote action. You can check out our website built by Sue Ming and myself under Pam Helberg’s leadership. Work on the website has been my main contribution so far, but I have upped my attention to the League of Women Voters material and meetings and I strongly believe the quotation emblazoned on our website (“A leader once convinced that a particular course of action is the right one must be undaunted when the going gets tough.”—Ronald Reagan) and the description of our group: “We are a group of energized women dedicated to generating positive change.”

The act of resistance, too often heavy on pushing back, fighting back, and counteracting, necessitates forward movement, especially by those inclined toward the creative arts. As Toni Morrison said:

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

The writers in Red Wheelbarrow already knew that. That is why we publish a Resist essay every week.

Author’s Bio: Linda Q. Lambert is a retired community college library director, a recent graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Creative Writing program at the University of Southern Maine, the mother of four sons and three daughters, and grandmother to thirteen. She also holds a masters degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California and one in library science from Emporia State University. She’s working on a bio-memoir of George Reuben Anderson, a civil war vet and her great grandfather. 

She inserted the initial Q in her name to honor the Quinbys who adopted her and to eliminate the alliterative overkill of Linda Lee Lambert. She is married to Amory Peck. Linda blogs at lindaqlambert.com