don’t punch left when monsters dance on your right

The blame game has gone on for about three months now and it’s really time to stop.

It’s time to come together and build a real, broad coalition of resistance.

Every time you find yourself posting online, We need to focus on the future, but… and then go on to blame communists, anarchists, socialists, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, working class whites, working class non-specific, the Midwest, the Southeast, non-voters, Putin, or whoever else, you stifle what you say you’re seeking.

We can’t build a coalition by first demanding apologies from everyone who isn’t us. Firstly, there’s no point to it. Secondly, you’re making a demand of someone you hope to embrace in open cooperation, which is the opposite of a cooperative starting point.

A lot of people were wrong. In fact, every major publication in the world was wrong about the outcome of this US election. If you think the blame belongs somewhere, maybe just accept that almost every single one of us was wrong about the election.

That doesn’t mean everyone was wrong about everything.

Hillary Clinton committed war crimes as Secretary of State. That’s not a debatable opinion. That’s just something that happened. It’s a fact.

The Obama Administration committed numerous war crimes and spied on us and our allies and tortured whistleblowers and tortured prisoners and repealed civil liberties and extended executive powers and empowered the Patriot Act. Also not an opinion. Those are things that happened.

And similar things have happened with every US Administration going back to at least Teddy Roosevelt, but probably back to Andrew Jackson, and then maybe even farther.

We have done terrible things as a nation. We have done them unrepentantly. We have done them for as long as we’ve been a nation. Genocide, slavery, and other crimes against humanity are in the fabric of our national identity. These things happened. They happened and we need to account for the fact that they happened when we move forward.

But we need to move forward. We need to understand where we were, what we supported, and how to move forward to make sure none of this happens again. We must remember the past and hold it tightly because our collective crimes are our burden as a people, as a nation.

Because Trump and Bannon are demanding that we relive the worst moments of American history again, right now, and for as long as they hold power. They want genocide. They want war. They want surveillance. They want bombs. They want christian supremacy. They want white supremacy. They want fascism. They want poverty, death, and total control and all the economic advantages that come with that place of power.

It’s not about demanding apologies or standing on a soapbox to tell everyone how right you were or how you are blameless.

And it’s not about when you joined the movement or became politically active. If you didn’t care yesterday but care a whole lot today, that should be good enough.

We are all to blame. Wherever you stand politically and whoever you voted for and for whatever reason you voted that way–we all did this. Together. As a nation.

This is our country. It’s not just a place we live. We are all complicit in the actions of our government because we allow them to govern us. We give them their power through voting, through consent, through passivity, through apathy.

And so we need to build a way forward, together.

Stop punching left, especially. Stop accusing those who have spent their lives as activists, as lawyers defending civil liberties, as confrontational journalists who demand more and hold power accountable just because they disagreed with you.

They had reasons to do what they did, just as you had reasons to do what you did. Also remember that being critical of one powerful person was not an endorsement of a different powerful person.

Unfortunately, there’s no longer a place for moderates in American politics. Being a moderate right now is being complicit with Bannon and Trump. To seek a compromise with them right now is to lose parts of yourself.

You cannot seek compromise with someone seeking genocide and widespread poverty and slavery. There is no compromise to be made that will not reduce you as a human. The only response is defiance, non-compliance, and resistance.

These are the people standing to your right: Nazis, white supremacists, christian supremacists, con men, fascists, and robber barons.

If you look to your left and still see enemies, then maybe you need to look harder at yourself.

What do you really want? Is it acknowledgement of your righteousness? Is it for someone to just tell you that you’re right? Is it for someone to take the blame of what 350 million people decided? Is it to mince words and argue about the right way to resist or talk about resistance? The right way to be a progressive, to be an American, to be a journalist?

We’ve all done this. I don’t exclude myself from this.

This isn’t a call out.

And if you need an apology, you don’t deserve one.

I will say that I was wrong. I was wrong about so many things about this election. And about a lot of other things too. I’m often wrong, and I’m often wrong about most things.

And while that might matter a bit, we have more pressing concerns.

So look to your left and take someone’s hand. It’s time to stand together.

Then look right, with your brothers and sisters, and hold that line, because there are monsters rushing our way and all they seek is blood.

not doing

Those who think to win the world
by doing something to it,
I see them come to grief.
For the world is a sacred object.
Nothing is to be done to it.
To do anything to it is to damage it.
To seize it is to lose it.

Under heaven some things lead, some follow,
some blow hot, some cold,
some are strong, some weak,
some are fulfilled, some fail.

So the wise soul keeps away
from the extremes, excess, extravagance.

Lao Tzu
Ursula K Le Guin’s version

The earth is sacred and 2,500 years after this was written, we’ve irrevocably damaged the earth through greed, excess, war, and gluttony. The earth will survive us, but we will not survive it.

We have treated it like a tomb to loot and in doing so we’ve reduced ourselves to scavengers, to looters, to vermin spreading a disease. Bacteria consuming the earth, stripping its bones clean and drinking its blood.

The Tao asks us to find a balance, and we’ve spun terribly off-kilter as a species.

And so how do we find that balance? Where is the balance to be found on a sinking ship?

I wish I had an answer for this, too. And maybe the best we can do is find a new equilibrium with this dying world. The ship will keep sinking, but maybe we can give it a gentle embrace before it pulls us under?

I know some want to harvest what’s left of its hull to escape to another ship, but I don’t think we deserve that.

And if we’re to honor ourselves and our world, we should go down with the ship. But maybe we can give it a soothing decline spread over centuries, rather than the sprint we’re running to our own demise.

The Tao is not about finding a new way. I don’t think it’s ever been that way, even when Lao Tzu wrote this all those centuries ago.

But, now, it requires that we find a new way, I think, or rediscover an old way. A way through these centuries of violence and industrialization.

Not to return to the past, but to find a balance in our lives that’re inundated with constant streams of information. Information terror is the world we live in. We reduce ourselves by flooding our heads with so much. We lose ourselves in the constant deluge of information.

For me, it means trying to close that valve a bit. Spending more time with human bodies. When I shut off my work computer at the end of the day, I leave my phone there, too. I’ll play on my laptop during the night, but I try to do that more and more frequently.

Instead I try to spend more real time with my wife, with my cat, with my friends. Working with my hands instead of just spending all day thinking, consuming information. Because if there’s a balance that needs to be found, it begins for me with me. I’ve trailed into the wilddeeps of information overload since I was 18, and while I wouldn’t trade the last ten years or all the information and knowledge I’ve accrued through the dense swamp of constant information, I no longer need that level of constant feedback.

More than not needing, I know it’s reducing me, hollowing me out, making me unhappy.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop paying attention. That I’m giving up on being informed or that I’ll let my country continue to spin out of control (something it’s been doing for decades but has definitely accelerated in the last weeks) without saying a word about it.

It’s about finding a balance. To get off my computer and out of the digital and get back into the world of bodies and hands and mouths.