A friend posted something the other day that I can’t stop thinking about. She basically asked the question that is constantly on my mind these days: How you can be at every protest, call every senator, tweet every bully - elected and not - and somehow show up and be there for your kids? It resonated because I feel that push/pull every, single day. I want to work 24/7 to protect my boys’ future, but if I’m not present for their present as a result, what’s it all for?
I read through some of the replies on her feed and there was a lot of good advice. Folks who marched before they had kids, but now have less time (and maybe a little more financial stability), are good to pass on their walking shoes to another set of protesters and instead, donate to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood after bedtime. A few said that raising a new generation of kind and decent people is the best way to secure a better future. In other words, tend to the now to get to the kind of later you want. I also liked the idea that just because you do some things that seem “normal" - like catching a movie or baking cookies or going for a hike - that doesn’t mean you are normalizing a lunatic. I agree with these folks 100,000 percent.
So, here’s my plan. If you give me a little bit of a heads up, I’m there, and so, by the way, is my entire family. We will march and chant and, as a result, we’ll do the future a solid by raising kids who fight for what they believe and fight against whomever threatens those beliefs. A last minute protest two hours away? Probably not gonna make it. Mufasa wouldn’t appreciate being left behind at Lion King rehearsal. But I’ll send money, I’ll text you a “Go Get ‘Em!” and I'll even comment on your Instagram post with an enthusiastic raised fist emoji. I can’t be at every protest in person (and let’s be honest here, there are going to be A LOT of protests…), but I will be at every protest in spirit. The thing to remember is that we are all standing up in our own way. Sometimes we stand up in massive crowds wearing knit hats, and sometimes we stand up by sitting down at the kitchen table and talking with our families.
This struggle is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Better yet, to use one of President Obama’s favorite analogies, it’s a relay. We run like hell when it’s our turn, and then we pass the baton and rest for a bit. We find something beautiful or kind or funny in the world to enjoy. We hang out with our friends. We read a novel. We cook. We write. We smile. We breathe. In short, we recover. And then, when the time comes, we’re ready to take up another leg.
This sounds sustainable to me - a way to remain vigilant, to stay righteous, to keep a weathered eye, but, also, to live a life. To set an example by actively seeking joy, in part, to stay connected to what we’re fighting for.
So, onward, fellow humans. Onward with strength and onward with softness. Onward with outrage and onward with forgiveness. Onward with fight and onward with peace. But especially, onward with love and compassion and hope. Let’s give ourselves permission to tend to these pillars of our humanity, and to revel in them whenever we can. Lord knows we need them, now more than ever.