Against Despair: notes
by Jeff Oaks
Today it’s a new documentary show that promises to prove who killed JonBenet Ramsey. After which the police will find out and presumably arrest the perpetrator. After the show. After someone’s made enough money.
(And I think about the young woman in one class who has said she wants to work on a piece about an assault she wants to write about, can’t keep from writing about, her great bravery in the face of her fear.)
Oil and gas pipelines bursting and poisoning rivers, watersheds, ecosystems. But the water protectors in ND are persecuted for protesting one that will spill and poison their water. For seeing things in stretches of hundreds of years instead of a few years of corporate profits. Dogs are set upon them. They have to argue in court for the right not to be poisoned on their own lands.
(Remember: Creativity also leaks, from everyday people, from my writing students. They read poems that urge them to open up the hidden, the curious in them. They move toward their own complicated humanities in quiet and musical ways throughout the city even now. Resistance to despair also leaks, mysteriously sometimes, from most people.)
Flint residents still have water with lead in it. Many other places in the same situation.
(Some city planners are rising to the challenge, even though the Republican controlled Congress refuses to take any action at all. Action to fix the infrastructure is rising from the small acts of the local. We can help by showing up, by joining them.)
Millions following a political candidate who has shown no ability to lead or even think, only shout and threaten. Who has told his virulently homophobic and xenophobic vice presidential candidate he will give enormous power to make domestic and foreign policy decisions. Millions following these candidates. Millions.
(Think of the women staffers in the White House who figured out how to make themselves and their ideas heard: they repeated good ideas and credited the source of those ideas over and over until their male counterparts heard them. Over and over we have to repeat the good and give credit where credit is due. We have to amplify the good work being done, send it money where we can, not give up on things we love. Remember what you love. Name it. Make a list. Keep it close. Raise your voice. Pick up your brush or pen.)