Let’s start by recognizing our breath. Feel the in and out, filling lungs, emptying lungs.
As we focus on nothing but air, let’s slowly add bodily functions. How’s our gut? How is our heart? What beats and churns inside that we don’t recognize? Let’s spend some time allowing those rhythms in that we pretend to ignore, even as we build entire galaxies with their raw materials.
Now that we’re sitting in our own 12/8, let’s check in.
Have our basic physical needs been met today? Water? Food? Sleep?
Have we taken care of our minds today?
How is our spirit?
What hurts? What does that hurt want?
What feels great? What feeds that good feeling?
Assess what is broken and if you can, tend to it. It’s your time, whether you want to admit it or not. How will you spend it?
Either way, have a glass of water. Possibly two.
People ask me all the time about why I do what I do. “Why foreign policy? Why ‘peace’ and why now? Shouldn’t you be organizing a shop or something?”
I could talk about the bajillions we spend on weapons that won’t be spent on relief for victims of Harvey or the storms (literal or metaphorical) to come.
I could talk about the difference those bajillions could make in the places where DACA recipients are from, especially when you consider how much of that money is from resource extraction or geopolitical blackmail or outright murder of people from those countries.
But instead I’ll draw a straight line for you through both and say that on every level the moral deficit we display by prioritizing xenophobia and white supremacy over the discomfort of dealing with humanity and our history affects working people disproportionately.
When the storms rip through lives and homes, it’s working class people that are uprooted and hit hardest.
When the hammer falls on today’s decision, it’ll be working people that get their dreams crushed underneath it and hit hardest.
When the bombs fall in places we can’t name without Wikipedia, it’s working people too but we pretend like we can’t see them.
I used to think people didn’t know but, for real, I’m starting to see that people know but don’t have room to identify the feeling. Folks have been getting hammered by life and sometimes feel like they don’t have room to see past tomorrow, their own neighborhood or life.
But if you want to know where your aid money for hurricanes went, look thousands of miles away in Syria.
Look in Afghanistan for levees that never felt waters.
Look in South Korea for bridges never built.
I know it’s hard to deal with, but that’s your, my fucking money being dropped on someone or aimed across a border and right now we could really use that shit for decent plumbing in Detroit.
My work is occasionally visible and exciting. Korea was dope as fuck and I’m gonna keep pushing on it. But most of the time it leaves people wondering, I know. It leaves me wondering sometimes too. I long for late shift organizing committee meetings and poker games in break rooms.
The good old days. 😂
But that’s not where my work is, I think, right now.
Someone said (likely a Black woman) that good organizing work is looking for a place to be useful and filling a role that no one else is occupying. The org I work for now is a sole voice in the wilderness about issues of war and conflict in the labor movement. Since this thing that we made, full of oil and blood and broken promises, affects working people so much, I think it makes sense for me to fight for those same people to get the opportunity to confront it and gleefully dismantle it.
But I’m going to do it with principles.
I’m going to do it with soul.
I’m going to do it as healthily as I can.
I’m going to do it as mindfully as I can.
And I’m going to do it knowing that I’m working from a plan and getting some sleep.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t care when shit gets heavy. It actually means the opposite. Being effective means more to me than feeling important in the moment. That was not always the case.
I look at this week and I know I’m doing the right thing but it took work to get to feeling okay about it. I’m going to have times where I will have that nagging doubt about mission or focus or scope of work, but I’ll remind myself of where we are headed.
I don’t have to be right about this, but if you’re feeling like you’re not doing enough because your life’s mission is not on the news at this very moment you probably aren’t doing anything wrong. Instead, put in where you can. Listen to your allies and folks about where they need help.
But take care of yourself and go live and work and be whole. Stay on point and on mission. We need you over there too, alive and pursuing dreams.