#SustainedOutrage #SubversiveLiving #RandomActs #BYOHashtag

I follow things on the Book of Face. Lots of things. One of them happens to be a page for feminist issues (shocker). The creator of that page has decided that her plan of action until Election Day 2020 is to do one positive or proactive thing each day. The hashtag attached to that action, which appears to be gaining some traction, is #SustainedOutrage. Some of you might not like that hashtag. It might be too aggressive or too…something. So change it up. Call it #SubversiveLiving or #RandomActs or some other hashtag of your choosing. It doesn’t matter what you call it. It only matters that you act daily for the next 1450 days.

Wait…how many days?

Yep. One thousand. four hundred. and fifty days.

Imagine what daily acts of positivity or kindness or action could lead to over the next 1450 days. Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas:

  • Donate money to a cause in which you believe.
  • Donate money more than once…because you probably believe in more than one thing.
  • Put the phone numbers of your elected officials in your phone.
  • Call them. Call them often. Make your voice heard.
  • Bring awareness to issues in a meaningful and respectful way.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Do something that shows care for another person.
  • Do something that shows care for the earth.
  • Read things that will expand your thinking or challenge your assumptions and ideas.
  • Have a conversation with someone different from you. (And if you need some help with that right now…because I sure do…and because some of you are dreading family gatherings at Thanksgiving, this TED Talk is uh. mazing. Complete with questions to include in the conversation.)

Do small things. Because it’s more sustainable. Because it’s less overwhelming. Because small things over time become bigger things. Because small steps change things.


How are the children?

It’s been said that when members of neighboring Masai tribes greet one another, they don’t do so with a “Hello” or “How are you?” They do it with the question, “How are the children?” It’s a little bit strange for that to be the leading question, but when you stop and think about it, it makes a lot of sense. When the children are doing well, we’re all doing well.

Wednesday morning, when I walked into work, it was clear that many of us were not doing well. A brief conversation with admin led to the counselor and I composing an email for staff on how to support our students’ potential range of emotions that day. It was the kind of email you put out the day after a major crisis event, which is telling in and of itself. I changed my plans for the day to make sure I was available if needed. All of the adults worked to make Wednesday a normal school day, but it wasn’t long before we were hearing about students who needed to talk to someone.

I spent the bulk of Wednesday talking to students, trying to provide comfort, safety, support, and hope. I sat with them as each one entrusted to me their stories, their fears, their anger, their tears, their outrage. I heard stories of parents who work multiple jobs to help their children and themselves have a better life. One student looked at me pleadingly as he said, “He calls my people murderers and rapists and now he is the president of the United States.” The unspoken question was, “HOW? How is that possible?” Another proclaimed the president-elect to be racist and sexist, feeling both of those things to be true given her identity and based on things said throughout the election cycle. Others shared their fears of being separated from family and friends based on the words of the president-elect. One simply seethed in rage over the whole thing.

Many of my students carry identities of multiple groups who have been diminished by the words of the president-elect. They feel targeted, as many do, because of their skin color, gender, or ethnicity. Many of my staff members feel the same way, in some cases adding in other identities. And all I could do was sit with each of them, letting them know they were heard and loved and safe at school. The hardest part was trying to find words of reassurance, because I just didn’t have any on Wednesday. And when I walked out of that building that day, I was wrung out.

Today, though, I’m starting to find words–starting to generate ideas for action. Because together we can do hard things. Because they are all my children. Because my people are hurting and feel unsafe. Because many of us are stunned by the messages we received loudly and clearly in the very early hours of Wednesday morning. Because I am an advocate and an ally. Because the children are not well.

Let Them Have Their King: A Short Meditation on this Election Day

When I was in seminary, I had an assignment to memorize a chunk of scripture (15 or so verses) and then deliver it in monologue fashion in front of my class. After an Old Testament class in a previous semester, I was fascinated by 1 Samuel 8. So that’s the passage I chose to memorize. And though it’s a narrative of a turning point in the history of Israel, I think it has implications for this historical election day. 

In the text, Israel had been led by Samuel, who was nearing the end of his life. None of his sons were favored to take his role, so the elders in Israel came to Samuel and asked for a king. It worked for other nations; surely it would work for them. A concerned Samuel takes it up with God.

God responds by telling Samuel to tell the Israelites what would happen if they had a king. The king “will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves.”

Samuel shared the message with the people who insisted that there should be a king so they could be like all the other nations and so the king “may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” He listened to the elders and took their message back to God, whose response essentially was, “Well then. Listen to them…and let them have their king.”

I woke up praying this morning that the majority of the people would not insist on having “their king” in this election. And yet, I fear that so many people want something so different in the worst way that they are asking for the person who has gone about being different in the worst possible way. On this election day, if you have not already done so, I encourage you to vote. And as you do, consider the implications of the choices you make when you fill in that ballot. Because sometimes what we think we want is exactly what we do not need.