September 22, 2019 |
Hello from the other side of the planet. I am missing all my Refuse Fascism brothers and sisters today, and deeply wishing I could be there with you in person. But there’s one gift living way out here allows me to give you: I can assure you that even in the antipodes, millions of people are watching what Americans do and wondering when Americans will act. They don’t have any choice in that. After all, as they say – for better or worse – when the US sneezes, the world catches cold. We may not always be proud of our outsize role as a country or eager to take responsibility for it, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have it. May what you create today in D.C. be the answer to a wondering world.
Because the stakes are so high and the price for failure is so dire, the fight against Trumpist fascism requires a lot of sobering and even terrifying conversations, about facts in need of facing and sacrifices in need of making. I know my colleagues will walk, together with everyone attending, through those difficult talks. But I hope as we dig into the work of this weekend, we can also carry with us some lighter, more joyful burdens…
The thought not just of what we could lose, but of what we can still save.
Not just of our collective guilt, but of our untapped, maybe even undreamt-of possibilities.
Not just of the people who absolutely will ignore or sneer at our message – but of the ones who’ve been waiting so long for someone to tell them yes, you can trust what your own heart is whispering to you…yes, you can turn off the gaslights now and forever. Just think, you could be that someone for someone else.
The writers Masha Gessen and Sarah Kendzior have spoken (correctly, I think) of a failure of imagination being our great weakness, which the Trumpists shrewdly exploit to convince us to become passive witnesses to our own decay. We failed to imagine the sheer depth of cruelty fascism demands – that the vulnerable must not simply be disregarded, but actively punished for existing. We failed to imagine what it would look like if Trump actually meant everything he was threatening. If he was literally preparing to throw away checks and balances, the Constitution, the law, the very concept of truth, even basic human decency. We couldn’t accept the onrushing reality because we couldn’t first bring it to life in our heads.
But that goes both ways. Every human advance has had to make the journey from inconceivable to inevitable, and the conceiving was always a necessary step of that journey. So today I’d like to extend to each of us, self included, an invitation to imagine again.
Can you imagine a world where Trump and his goons have no more power over us?
Can you imagine, not just the people of the US, but the people of the world finally released from ever having to think about him again? From the need to wake up and go to bed every single day with Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, because any moment we stop watching is usually the moment he picks to blow up the ground beneath our feet?
Can you imagine being able to breathe deeply again?
To enjoy our simple pleasures for their own sake, not as a shaky refuge from constant anxiety, or a narcotic to dull our guilt at failing to act while others suffer far worse?
Can you imagine our time belonging to us, instead of him? A day feeling like a day again and a year like a year, instead of the opposite? What would that even be like? I’m not sure I remember!
Can you imagine allowing yourself to take the shining energy that the protesters of Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Sudan have been so brilliantly sending us – and then reflecting that light to other countries, and they to others, and they to others, across the world? Can you imagine being a beacon of hope to someone, the way these other, extraordinarily ordinary people have been to you?
Can you imagine what such renewed energy could do to turn back the fascist poison now trying to spread through so many nations at once?
These are the things that a victory could win for all of us, and most especially for the innocents this regime is targeting more cruelly every day, whose lives are already at stake right now as we speak.
The work won’t be finished after we drive out Trump/Pence with sustained, non-violent protest, of course. Not remotely. Don’t worry, there’ll still be mind-bogglingly vast and urgent problems pressing down on us. But imagine how much easier all those ticking clocks will be to beat when we don’t have fascist factotums hanging off every inch of us, dragging us backward and downward. (Doesn’t that sound almost like a vacation now? Just solving global warming, without a world war or a fascist nuclear superpower on top of it?)
And finally, imagine going into those future struggles as part of a broad coalition for the cause of humanity itself – a coalition forged and tempered by its struggle to put down a resurgent nightmare from the past; fresh from relearning how fragile and precious our lives and the life of our planet are, and how much we need each other; and experienced in accepting and acting on even the most frightening truths, together.
That is what I’ll be holding fast to in my mind and heart for the weeks ahead. But I think I’ll need some company.
Will you join me?
Refuse Fascism Editorial Collective