From Overwhelm to Action

Muslim Capitol Day 2017_optThere’s too much, too fast. The executive orders, appointments, tweets, ethics questions, ICE raids, lies/mistruths/”alternative facts” (?!?). It’s like trying to put out a bunch of fires all at once. It’s like drinking water from a fire hose. It’s like…so much spinning, and a dizzying overwhelm.

I hear ya. I’m feeling it, too.

As individuals, we can’t tackle it all. So what do we do? How do we choose what actions to take, on which issues?  Continue reading

Fertile Resistance

Resistance Is Fertile_optAs we go about the important work of resisting, here’s what I want us to remember:

Resistance is Fertile.

Not “futile,” as the Borg in Star Trek’s The Next Generation would have you believe. Fertile. According to a quick google search:

fer·tile

  1. (of soil or land) producing or capable of producing abundant vegetation or crops.
  2. (of a seed or egg) capable of becoming a new individual.
  3. (of a person, animal, or plant) able to conceive young or produce seed.  Continue reading

Don’t Try to Save the World All by Yourself!

partners_optTrying to accomplish any kind of activism, community, or systems change on your own is a recipe for disaster. First, it won’t work. More importantly, it’s sure to burn you out, make you crazy, and leave you lying in an angry or despairing puddle of ineffectiveness on your kitchen floor.

The Buddy System. In the Jewish tradition, people are not supposed to study all by themselves! People study in pairs—with a partner, called havruta (meaning friendship). Why do people study in pairs? For all kinds of reasons: because it’s not possible to find all the answers on our own; because studying with a partner makes each person accountable to the other; because having to articulate your ideas to someone else helps you express those ideas better. According to the Talmud, “Two scholars sharpen one another” (BT Ta’anit 7a).

In your advocacy and community work, you need a buddy.  Continue reading

In the Dark, Being Still

Hanukkah candles-8th night 5777_optIt’s the darkest time of the year: a few days past Winter Solstice; one day after Christmas; and this evening is the third night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. Many of us mark this season with traditions of coming together to share time, eat special foods, and light up the darkness.

As we gather with friends and loved ones this year, we are sometimes finding ourselves confronted with political conversations that seem weightier than they ever have before.

If we’re gathering with like-minded people, conversations can take on a hushed, serious tone. “How did this happen? People I know are afraid. I am afraid. What are we going to do?” Continue reading

Climate, Communities, and Resilience: A Post-Election Interfaith Press Conference @COP22

syrian-childIn the wake of U.S. election results, Americans attending COP22 started getting a lot of questions from their global colleagues: What do we think of the president-elect? What positions will he take? Who will he appoint to be in his Cabinet? But mostly—since we were at a conference focused on international cooperation on dealing with our shared planetary climate crisis—the question was: “What does the election mean for U.S. action on climate change?”  Continue reading

From Standing Rock to Marrakech

If a person of learning participates in public affairs and serves as judge or arbiter, she gives stability to the land… But if she sits in her home and says to herself, ‘What have the affairs of society to do with me?…. Why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!’—if she does this, she overthrows the world. -from Midrash Tanhuma, Mishpatim 2

climate-justice-nowI wish there was no need to protest, that there was no tar sands oil pipeline threatening to encroach upon sacred burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux or to imperil the safety of water for whole communities. But the strength, dignity, and purpose displayed by Native water defenders under intense pressure—including violence from highly militarized authorities—inspires my respect. The excited shouts from defenders as they see buffalo approaching on the horizon brings me tears of joy. Watching white religious leaders from across the country answer the call to stand in solidarity with Native leaders—knowing this nation’s history of systematic abuse, oppression, and extermination of Native peoples perpetrated by Whites—moves me deeply and gives me hope for something new.  Continue reading