Today is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I remember where I was when I heard the news, as pretty much every American above a certain age does. I remember watching The Towers fall. I remember the candle-lit vigils, the fear, and the oddly-quiet skies, free of air traffic for several days in early September.
I also remember one of the first things I thought, after I was pretty sure it wasn’t the beginning of World War III:
Oh, man, are the whack jobs ever going to capitalize on this!
I know. Cynical. But I was not wrong. Instead of coming together as a nation, our so-called leaders at the time managed to parlay the events of September 11, 2001, into a virtual rampage of jingoism, civil rights violations (which still continue today), war profiteering, and fascism. The Bush Administration, aided by Congress and a complicit corporate media, managed to squander the goodwill of the world, while trampling on the very Constitution they were sworn to defend.
If this were the only result of that horrible time, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I would simply be observing in silence, praying for a light to come back to our nation. But this nationalist backlash engendered yet a second backlash–the reinvigoration of American liberals.
For 30 years or so, the Democrats and other more progressive parties had tried in vain to fire up the large number of liberals in the United States. After the 60s and 70s, and the economic betrayal of the Reagan/Bush eras, many liberals were just weary.
But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove did more to mobilize liberals in the United States than any Democrat could have hoped to do. Suddenly, speaking out was not just for granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing hippies. Librarians and nuns were the New Radicals. And it wasn’t just politics. The Christian Left stood up in a big way to reclaim their faith from the right-wing crackpots who were more interested in guns and gays than in God.
And while conservatives still have the bigger voice in America, liberals are still moving upwards and making their voices heard.
So what does this have to do with Opportunity Rising? It’s just a reminder that even the most horrific events can serve as a catalyst for progress, social change, and justice. It’s a reminder that even when things look the bleakest, there are people out there brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough to stand up for what is right.
So while we still fight daily against prejudice, bigotry, fear-mongering, and financial inequality, we can at least be assured that our numbers are growing. We will get there. We just have to keep fighting the good fight.
Love to you all–
I have a love/hate relationship with current events. On the one hand, I want and need to be aware of what is going on in the world if I am to play a part in improving things. Putting my fingers in my ears, squinting my eyes shut, and singing “lalalalalalalaaaaa” at the top of my lungs is not going to change the problems of the world. I have to be aware if I’m going to be part of the solution.
On the other hand, wow. Just…wow. The sheer volume of challenges the world is facing today can be staggering. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless as you learn more about what needs to be done to help restore the balance to our society and our planet. I’m not immune to these feelings.
For instance, I just finished reading an intense interviewer with Eric Snowden, followed by a talk by Noam Chomsky called “Who Owns the World?” By the end of these articles, I felt depleted and ill-equiped to face the world.
So, I did what I always do–my routine. Driving to work, I said my morning prayers, including an appeal to my patron Hestia.
Funny thing about prayer–most people think it’s a monologue. But if you shut up and listen, sometimes you will get an answer back.
And Hestia’s answer to my question of how to balance peace of mind with cultural and political awareness surprised me.
Use it as fuel.
Instead of letting the weight of the problems dampen your fire for change, convert it to fuel. Look at the things being done, look at the injustices, look at the work still incomplete, and use them to feed the fire of your determination.
Anything can be fuel for the fire of change–love, hate, fear, injustice. A story of a community coming together to help their own can be just as invigorating as the outrage we feel at police brutality or corporate misdeeds.
It’s all fuel, sayeth the Original Domestic Goddess. Everything has the potential to create change, if you use it wisely.
What sources of fuel are you ignoring? Can the burdens that weigh you down be converted into life-giving energy? Comments welcome, of course.