Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 239.

Convergences. Some deep shit is happening.

A few days ago, a truly extraordinary human being passed away. I struggled with writing that sentence. I'm still not sure what I believe about what it is to "die." I tried to write things like, "transitioned" or "left this form" or "left us." But I know none of those things are true. She is still here with us, her work is here with us, her spirit is here with us, and her body is here with us . . . just . . . changing. Whatever you want to call it, Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, is no longer here the way she was before. 

It's been interesting to see the ways people have been talking about Wangari Maathai and her life's work since her passing. She planted trees, and she taught women to plant trees in her native Kenya, and thus she has been branded some sort of environmental leader, which she absolutely was. But I believe it would dishonor her tenacity and her politics to overlook what else she did as she taught folks to plant trees - she planted the seeds for revolution. She was a catalyst for the empowerment of women, and she shepherded communities in creating strategies for their own survival and resilience and growth. This woman was absolutely, lovingly fierce. And though I feel shock at this "loss," I know that the world is forever changed by the indelible mark her spirit has left.

I stop short of naming it a coincidence that someone whose life work I admired this much has left us in the midst of the most under-reported and the most significant show of American resistance I have seen in my lifetime. Wall Street has been occupied for coming up on two weeks now. All I know is that which I have seen on facebook, links to people's photo albums, and occasionally links to video clips from different news sources, rarely from any media considered mainstream, save for one notable and bold exception. I've heard that there are hundreds of people out there and that there are 40,000 people out there. Celebrities have joined the people, everyone from Immortal Technique to Dr. Cornel West. Regular folks are out there in droves. Airline pilots and police officers are some of the most surprising groups of workers to show up in solidarity. Other police officers are corralling and macing folks in the face, throwing them against vehicles and against the pavement. It's ugly, but it's not shocking . . . and no one seems shocked, and everyone, I mean almost every damn person I know is following this. People I never would have expected to give a shit are pointing out things like how cops have been shoving people around for no legal reason in tons of neighborhoods for a long, long time now, that that's kinda, well, what they do.

So that's all going on, and there's more. Not too long before all this, the state of Georgia murdered a black man named Troy Davis. I have nothing profound to say about this that hasn't already been said. The death penalty is simultaneously human and inhumane. We humans are murderers and we humans are always trying to convince one another to stop murdering others. 

And have you heard? The planet is cooking. has . . . and they, and about a gazillion of their friends did something about it last weekend. And they plan on continuing to do something about it, going down fighting a fight that most of us Americans have the luxury of pretending is not happening. 

A dam in Brazil, the building of which would destroy uncountable ecosystems, displace uncountable humans and animals. A march in San Francisco, yelling at the banks. Weather that is getting weirder and weirder and weirder every day. Revolution in Yemen and in Syria, not to be found on your news station.

Some deep shit is happening, folks. Some real deep shit. It's all over the place and I'm all scattered, too, chewing on a toothpick, trying to figure out how to write about it. Everything is shifting all at once, and I feel it in my bones and on my breath and all around me, where my skin meets the outside world. I want to talk about it all the time, and I want to do something about it all the time, and I wind up gawking at the photos on facebook, and going outside to work, and going inside, to hide and pretend the world is perfect, and to feel safe and fed and warm with my loved ones. 

I don't know. I thought I was going to wait to publish something about all these things until I had the perfect thing articulated, some kind of well-written, deep call to action. But now it just feels important to say something. Like, I notice. And I'm in it with you, human family. I'm in it. Whatever's next, however we shift and grow and transform, I'm in it. Let's do this.

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