Saturday evening I went to a neighboring city's annual Take Back the Night. I've been going almost every year for about 1/2 my life. Take Back the Night happens annually every October in different cities in the United States and beyond. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The event has an area for tabling for various organizations, areas for making buttons and signs, and a stage area with seating. There are performances by local dance troupes, poets, and songwriters. After the performances is the Survivor’s Speak Out during which survivors of domestic violence and abuse share their stories. It is extremely powerful. It’s empowering to see these brave people break their silence and shed the shame that has kept them quiet.
I have been thinking a lot since Saturday about what to write about next? So much is happening in the political world right now and I feel irresponsible if I don’t address it. On the other hand, if I blogged every time something newsworthy happened during the campaign I’d never be able to write about anything else and I am just not willing to let it control my life or my blog like that. There’s also the fact that I like you all too much to do that!
So, there it is: control. Who’s in control? There’s so much in our lives that we have no control over: pretty much anyone and anything not between the tips of your fingers, your toes, and the top of your head…assuming you have all of the aforementioned body parts. We don’t have control over our past. It’s over and done. We do have control over what we do with it and how it affects us.
I got really oversaturated about two days ago with media coverage of the election and had to turn the TV off. What I was left with were my thoughts. I was able to really think about what’s been going on the past few days, both in my personal life and on the broader level. What came of that was that I kept going back to two things: my own power and my own responsibility. You can’t have one without the other.
At the time of this writing, the election is 27 days away. This chapter is going to be over in less than 4 weeks. Then what? As a nation, we’re being exposed to divisions that were previously beyond imagination. I don’t think anyone could have written this to be stranger than it’s turning out. But on November 9, this part will be over. I worry about what we have learned about our friends, family, and neighbors. I believe there is some really dangerous thinking on all sides and sometimes people act on dangerous thoughts.
Going back to my weekend report in the opening paragraph, that is what I hope will come from all of this: we continue to speak out. We are having conversations now that we’ve never had before. I believe we have needed to break through the shame that keeps survivors quiet for a long time. I know we have a long way to go and I do expect there will be some backlash no matter who wins the election. But I am really optimistic about some of the things being set into motion. If we can focus our energy on these changes we really will be a force to be reckoned with.
I want to close with a quote from The West Wing. It’s from a special episode that aired about two weeks after 9/11. In the scene, the Deputy Chief of Staff is telling a group of high school students how to combat terrorism and fear. I can’t think of better advice for what we face here and now:
“Worry about school. Worry about what you’re going to tell your parents when you break curfew. You're going to meet guys. You're going to meet girls…Learn things, be good to each other. Read the newspapers, go to the movies, go to a party, read a book. In the meantime, remember pluralism. You want to get these people? I mean, you really want to reach in and kill them where they live? Keep accepting more than one idea. It makes them absolutely crazy. Go!”