Remember you are dangerous.
19 January 2017
My dear friends,
Since November I have been plagued by awareness. For weeks after the election I was reminded of truths at every moment: truths that gave my stomach the weight of lead, and that made my heart feel as though it had collapsed.
I have been back to that place for the last many days. From the bold and immediate actions of our Congress to Friday's inauguration, news of our politicians has made me sick to my bones, because of both the actions themselves and my feeling completely impotent to stop them.
I have spent much of my life wondering how I can do the most good: give more, and more effectively; dedicate more time; work for the most in need. It is hard work indeed, and there is little of the grand, earth-moving payoff that one hopes for when one begins this sort of work.
These last months and years have made me conflicted. At once I want more than ever to do the most I can, but I also know that that work would likely drive me to the edge of despair. Anger, anxiety, and frustration bring me only ill health, not renewed motivation.
These past many days, as we've seen the parade of fools and demons, I have found myself most lamentatious, again plagued by what seem to be insurmountable challenges before us, and again feeling the smallness of my self.
I will not annoy you with more talk of unity, banding together, loving, gathering, and so on. You have likely grown tired of such empty rhetoric long ago, as I have. I admit that I understand the impulse toward violent overthrow, rebellion, and revolution. I feel for the rioters.
So I cannot in good conscience advocate for amicable demeanors, tolerance, or normalization. Instead I beg you: remember that you are dangerous.
These people -- so many of them --
who seek only power,
who live their lives for money, renown, influence,
who buy their way out of integrity and compassion,
who incite mobs to follow them into the dark,
who use their power to oppress, deny, and shame:
these people are afraid.
They are afraid of our voices and bodies.
They are afraid of dark skin and eyes.
They are afraid of knowledge.
They are afraid of their oppressed.
They are afraid of unpopularity.
They are afraid of integrity and justice.
Our very existence is a great danger to them. They are cowards who hide in gilded towers and stonewalled offices, afraid to look us in the eye.
Let me be clear: these men and women are not afraid to kill us. They will gladly silence us in any way they can. They will let us die hungry; they will let indoctrinated racists execute us in the streets; they will censor our discourse; they will tear down our artwork; they will stunt our education; they will destroy our homes, land, water, and air; they will let us die unaided on the steps of hospitals; they will gladly give guns to those who kill us for who we are.
This is how dangerous we are.
Today I have no emboldened words of action; I am simply trying to live with a manageable level of anger, and without fear.
Do your best not to be afraid. Do not shrink. Remember you are dangerous.
"and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body." (W.W.)