via Daily Prompt: Noise
My mother always found me a hard child to punish because I loved to be sent to my room. I never remember a time in my life, no matter how young I was, that I didn’t relish quiet time alone.
Being the poster-child for introverts I sometimes find homeschooling overwhelming, working with children at the library over the weekend can be trying and social media is best in once-a-week-or-so doses. I suppose it comes as no surprise then, that the political landscape and news media can be inordinately difficult.
After the last election I felt a surge of desire to get involved, to make a difference in the world around me, to teach my children about our country and what it means for us as a people to actually be “great”.
We live in an area with a large minority and immigrant population and the safety of my neighbors was forefront in my mind. The kids and I made a poster of the Statue of Liberty, including an excerpt from the poem by Lazarus, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”. We posted it to the front door of our house for months. We added to that a sign that we bought at our church that reads, “Love your neighbor* *your black, brown, immigrant, disabled, religiously different, LGBTQ, fully human neighbor.”
My husband brought the kids to our local March for Science (I worked that day). We brought the kids to local Rise Up Singing events at a cafe downtown. I signed up for email lists and had impassioned talks with friends about activism.
Several months into the presidency I was feeling that old familiar feeling of being “all peopled out”. In that time I had lost my grandmother, we had renovated two apartments, I had hit bottom with my drinking and started to get sober and I just didn’t have the bandwidth. I stopped looking at Facebook. I stopped watching the news unless it was on downstairs while I was caring for my uncle. I pulled back and in and hunkered down.
If (when) my sobriety is still intact when March 27th rolls around I will have hit 6 months. Our church is gearing up for a big partnership with a local organization in our city. I am coming out of my winter and self care induced hibernation. I am feeling re-energized and ready to jump back in.
This week, while nor’easters rolled over our house, I read this book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. It’s a small book and not a difficult read but, I think, an important one. Out of fear I kept it on my nightstand for a long time before finally picking it up. Surprisingly I finished it feeling motivated rather than depressed. Don’t get me wrong, there are terrifying things in this book, even more so because the political situation has only gotten murkier and more more tyrannical since it was published last year, but it gave me several doable ways to be of service to the cause.
So back to noise. What I am not going to do is hop back on Facebook and start sharing apocalyptic articles. I’m not even going to read other people’s posts. What I am going to do is be of service, whenever I can, through my church because they are politically active in a way that is in alignment with my values and it will keep me from trying to reinvent the activism wheel. I subscribed to the New York Times online so that I can support the press and it’s journalists. I am going to revisit, with my children, what our country stands for: the history and meaning of democracy, the freedoms of religion and the press, the importance of acceptance, of a global world view, the need to develop and participate in community, etc. I am going to give 30 minutes of my time every day to letting the noise wash over me, either with the newspaper or trusted local and international radio sources. I am going to make eye contact and small talk with the people around me and lead my children by example. I am going to read books. Lots of books.
I don’t doubt that I will get tired and overwhelmed. Part of this process for me is understanding that in advance and preparing for it. The world out there is loud, but I’m willing to spend the time hunting for meaning and parse out what matters.