I've got "Bittersweet Symphony" from the Verve on my mind.
I still need to finish my reflections from the inauguration (was that really only two days ago?), partially as a commitment to consistent blogging, partially as a reminder of a celebratory day.
Today was not that day. Well, in some ways yes. But I still feel busted up.
Right before I walked into my excellent class on race and ethnicity, I received a text message from one of my friends that contained some disjointing news. Someone who had written last year an editorial intimating that LGBT people are mentally ill was nominated to the chair of the diversity committee of our student senate. My stomach flipped, and then tightened grimly. I would have go and speak out, even if he was in the room, even if he and I have a tenuous friendship. The decision was instant, and later, at 4:30, with supporters rallied and statements written some friends from Pride Alliance and I were ready to rock and roll social justice style. And we did. I'm very proud of the insights we gave to the senate, and I'm thankful that some of them possibly took to heart our comments. The student was not elected chair, and the day continued.
So why do I feel beat up? Perhaps part of it is the draining aspect of jumping to action within a few hours; my friend texted me at 1:30 and I was out of the senate meeting by 5:30. All of the planning during class, furious scribbling of notes, purposeful strides and purposeful words buzzed with a sort of electric adrenaline coursing through my veins. Feeling a crash after a rush of adrenaline is natural, my body's way of recuperating after fight or flight. I chose to fight, and now I'm understandably tired.
But that's what's sitting with me, taking a baseball bat to my heart: I had to fight. And anyone reading this who has ever resisted oppression is nodding their heads and saying, "Yeah, duh." Or maybe people are nicer than that, because maybe they remember what I learned today was as hard for me as it was for them: that the systems I trust don't necessarily have my best interests in mind, and that if I want something I have to assert some adrenaline and get angry. Or forcefully eloquent. Whatever works.
It' s odd how social justice has up until this point been so passive for me. Send pre-written letters. Lead a safe zone training. Call people to vote against amendment #1. None of these things are bad-- I'm immensely proud of and energized by number two and relatively OK with number three (and number one, I'm sure, isn't as ineffective as it seems). But none of these is a fight, or at least none of these registered any urgency with me. Which is a shame. I am ashamed. Taking action in flesh-and-blood, incarnate ways matters, because it breaks my hardened heart. The truth is going to town with the baseball bat, and all there is for comfort right now is prayer and the Verve.
The First Will be Last
3 weeks ago