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November 8th.
I’m on a plane, and the 55 minute gate to gate flight from LAX to OAK seems to just keep getting longer as we watch the numbers creep up to the inevitable, and between trays of drinks and trash pick ups I feel a sense of dread creeping up inside me.  This is going to be one of those days when, 20 years from now when we’re asked about it, each of us will remember vividly where we were, who we were with, what we were wearing.  This is going to be the JFK assassination, Loma Prieta, 9/11.  This is not good.

I look down the aisle.  How many of these people are watching the numbers climb in exaltation?  How many are ready to celebrate victory?  How can I respond professionally if a passenger says something to my face?

“Don’t take this the wrong way,”  the attendant working besides me begins, “but I hope Trump wins.”

I look at him for a moment before I can formulate a reply.  A white make in his early 30s.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,”  I speak, “but my genitalia prevents me from agreeing with you.”

He understands.  He respects my opinions.  We talk about the unrest this election is going to precipitate, and I can tell this is the warm up.  Not all the conversations I’m about to have won’t devolve into arguments about why my family, my tribe, my community now has a whole new level of fear of the government that should be protecting them, and yes, I focus on the things that touch me personally because the nation of people I can’t reach is still too much to process, and it hurts my heart.

In the days that followed I’ve watched that nation hurt.  I’ve watched that nation question.  I’ve watched that nation panic.  I’ve also watched people come together in support and love for one another.  I’ve watched whole communities protect their own.  I’ve watched individuals take their rage and find the voice to say “fuck you, this is who I am, and I’m not hiding any more, so you’re going to have to fight me!”  This…this is what needed to happen. Instead of laying down and worrying about the outcome, we need to find our rage and focus it on change before the hammer falls.

Years ago I saw this moment in a meditation.  Years before Game of Thrones would warn us, I would be told to be prepared before winter came.  Years ago I wrote a poem about the power of  nation with nothing left to lose.

This is our rock bottom, and as I take a break from writing an entire book about my experiences weathering my own winter, I am reminded that this is where most people find their No; when to stay silent is a death knell.

I implore you today to look deep inside yourself and find your No.  Make it a Fuck No!  It doesn’t have to be fighting or extravagant gestures of disobedience or heroism.  Your No can be a donation to the ACLU or local organizations that protect the marginalized members of your community.  Your No can be offering to walk with someone to make sure their safe from harassment.  Your No can simply be checking in on those around you to make sure they’re safe inside their own emotions, because this is a terrifying time for many people who already had limited outlets.  Your No can be their No until they can find it within them.

We will not survive this by hiding from it.  We will not survive this by submission and supplication.  We will not survive this with rash decision making and senseless destruction.  Nothing comes from breaking the windows of a local business in an already struggling neighbourhood.  Nothing comes from taking the last source of income from someone barely getting by.  Everything comes from focusing that energy where it can actually bring change.  Find your No in standing beside one another.  More is accomplished from a thunder storm than a tidal wave.  Let’s find our No in the thunder…together.

this is the winter they warned us about

when the weight of survival
is too much
for those who cannot afford to say no
when dreams are outlawed
and hope is taxed
and the price of a voice
has risen so high
that it must be taken some other way
when the snow falls
and the freeze sets in
and the discontent have nowhere to go
but the dark barren homes
they’ve spent every cent to protect
this!
this is the season we’ve prepared for
while you watched it on TV
laughing in the comfort
of the luxury we’ve afforded you
this is the time
when the starving wolves
leap for the throats
of those who have caged all the rabbits
and thrown the world out of balance
this is the night
when darkness falls
we set the world on fire and dance in the flames
because we have nothing
left to burn for
and they can’t take that away

Aloha.

Go now, be your No.

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