Keep On Doing What You Do / Jerks On The Loose

by Angeliska on December 22, 2016

I’m sad and angry for her. I’m sad and angry for us, for all the women, for the immigrants, people of color, Muslims and Jews, queer and trans folks, for the earth. For the water. For all the little children, and the old folks – for all of us. We’ve got to do the hardest work now – of showing up even more, staying strong, staying alive, keeping our noses above water. Everyday, fight. Don’t give up, don’t back down.

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” – Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

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Nobody around here knows what happened to you
No one will ask you to explain
You have your arm around a drastic measure
All of your efforts down the drain

There might be something here you could get into
Or just be quiet by yourself
Oooooooo. . .
Stare at the stuff up on the shelf

You work too hard
to take this abuse
Be on your guard
jerks on the loose

Look who
did it to you
Joker over there
with nothing to do
Don’t let ‘em
get through
Keep on doing
what you do

Why don’t you listen to my little pep talk
Instead of what that person said
And now I’m gonna open up the window
And you will come in off that ledge

You work too hard
to take this abuse
Be on your guard
Jerks on the loose…
Jerks on the loose…
Jerks on the loose!

(by Terre and Suzzy Roche)

I’ve been wanting to share this song that has been such a helpful anthem to me for a long time. I grew up listening to The Roches, but rediscovered this song a few years ago when I was going through a particularly tough time. I listen to it whenever I feel sad, discouraged, or beat down by the world and the people that sometimes can be huge jerks. It always helps, a lot. Right now feels especially apt, on a larger scale than ever before. This is such a disturbingly surreal moment we’re having in this country, in the world. As cynical as I can be about politics and the general state of things, nothing could have prepared me for where we’ve ended up, in just a few short months. It’s hard to conceive that this is our reality. I don’t even know how to write about it, how to put my disbelief and shock into words that even begin to convey all the things I’m feeling. I’m dumbfounded, utterly gobsmacked by how completely fucked up this current turning has turned out to be. I could never watch the movie Idiocracy all the way through, because nothing about it felt funny or satirical to me at the time. It all just felt real – and now it really and truly fucking is. I understood that a massive paradigm shift was occurring, and that it would likely be ugly, bringing all the poison up to the surface. I don’t know why I imagined it would be gentler than this, or that common sense, good judgment, and justice would prevail. I truly thought that our next president would be a woman, and that this would be the turning of an ancient tide. I was wrong, and I’m starting to understand why. I am horrified, and I am afraid. I don’t want to be, but I am. It can be a little paralyzing, that fear that makes you want to turn everything off, all the screens, all the lights. Hide under the covers, hide away. If the monsters can’t see you, they’ll go away. But they won’t. The monsters are here to stay, it looks like. There is no vanquisher, no silvery warrior riding in at the last minute to set things right, chase the baddies down into their suck-holes, slimy tails slithering behind them. I mean – I haven’t quite given up hope yet, but we’re cutting it so close here. This feels like one of those bad dreams you keep trying to wake up from, but every time you slam the door and run outside, you find yourself still in the room with the bogeyman. He’s coming towards to, reaching out his hands to grab you where the sun don’t shine, and you can’t move, can’t scream, can’t wake up. He is in power now.

What can we do? Well, a lot actually. Hopefully you have read all the articles explaining how, written the letters, signed the petitions, called your representatives every day, rang their phones off the wall. I know there are a lot of resources out there for how and where and why to get motivated and pitch in, organize, participate in active resistance to this heinous bullshit. I won’t compile all that here for you, because I think (I hope) you already have access to that information, and are acting on it. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, ways to help, ways to find something to do. We have to. We must. Because with so many of us being hit by this blow right in the old nervous system, our animal selves are going into fight, flight or freeze. A few immediately talking of running, taking flight – but I don’t actually know anyone who is actively planning to move to Canada, or any other country as a result of this tainted election. We have to stay and fight. This is our home. We have to stay present, stay deeply grounded and rooted in our communities, in our bodies, in our truth. To keep from going into that paralysis place, playing possum, shut down – that happens. I’m seeing a lot of people I love having PTSD reactions from this election. I know I have been – anxiety sweats, legs aching, flooded with cortisol, mind blanking, numbing out.

A series of explosions woke me from peaceful dreams (gathering wet sticks for my dogs to fetch) at 6am the other morning. Men’s voices shouting through a loudspeaker across the street. Flashing blasts that rattled the windows. I rolled to the floor & grabbed blindly for my phone to call 911, thinking it was crazed white supremacists lobbing bombs into the nearby projects. Crouching near the window, trying to deduce what was happening – I thought the voice on the loudspeakers was yelling something about WWIII. I slowly realized it was the police, with a search warrant for an apartment across the street. Flash grenades are a diversion tactic. This kind of action is especially terrifying for anyone with PTSD. My legs turned to jelly, cowering against the bed. Instant fight/flight/freeze all at once, nervous system glitching. It took a long time to settle down. Is this normal? My neighbor frantically texting, asking me if I was okay. She thought the same thing was happening, and I can’t help wondering if our minds went there because we’re both Jews.

Later that afternoon, I received a disturbing prank call, from two ranting men talking over me and laughing. They called back after I hung up, and left a message questioning “why I would have an immigrant on my answering machine in Trump’s America”. They accused me of being the devil, threatened bad Yelp reviews, and told me that they’d be sending their pastor over my way. To do what, I’m not sure. I don’t want to know. It freaked me out though, that dude-bro bullying – being ganged up on in a way I hadn’t experienced since school days. It’s such an effective way to make you shrink immediately – as if being small would help you escape their notice. Back hunched, always looking over your shoulder. When I went to check the mail, it was with trepidation. Would they be waiting around the corner to jump me? Would my fence be sprayed with a swastika? I grew up with this, expecting this, confronting this kind of feeling nearly every day. Our country feels like one big high school, with the loudest and meanest swinging baseball bats, thoroughly savoring their rage. The jerks are on the loose. It felt exhausting to be taunted like that, after such a brief night of interrupted sleep, after giving of myself, my energy, trying to help people all day. I give my work my all, trying to offer compassionate spiritual service to those who come to me in pain, in fear.

I think of all the people I know, working every day in the trenches, trying to do some good for and with the people who need it most, and how beat down and worn out most of them were feeling, even before the election. What now? When I came back from Morocco, I expected to have a lot of people coming to see me for tarot readings – but I expected them to be shattered, depressed, broken. Many are, of course. It’s really hard to not be. The surprising thing is that most have been coming to me on fire, wanting to know how they can best be of service, motivated to get involved, to contribute, to be active in the resistance. To fight! Let’s be ferocious warriors of love. I’m seeing the women come together in such a powerful way – inspiring each other and encouraging each other forward. In this post, I’ve shared images of warrior women that inspire me to be braver, more determined, more fearless. Let’s build each other up, and keep each other strong. Let’s make sure we have the backs of those who lose their hope and are deep in despair. Don’t let them get trampled under the dark waves. Lift them back up. Protect those who are being attacked. Defend them, stand up for them, and for what you know is right. Give of yourself, show up, and don’t be silent. Don’t you dare just shrug and turn away, Don’t you dare think that the jerks won’t come for you, because eventually – they likely will.

Help in the way you are best equipped to help. Help through empathy, not pity or sympathy. Give in such a way that you can honestly say, “It is my pleasure.” Do your one small piece, do the thing that you do, or the many things – but do them often, regularly. Do them in such a way that you do not get overwhelmed, burnt out, and just shut down. You cannot fix it all. It is too big. But you can offer your little pieces, with a fierce and determined heart full of love. This is how we make shift. This is how we can be the change we want to see. Keep on doing what you do. Do it more. Be kinder, more patient – with yourself, and especially with strangers. The more you learn how to fill up your cup, the more you have to offer. It will be important to stay in a place where we can always treat strangers with graciousness. Even if we’re in a bad mood, or feel that they’re messing up. I’m working on this a lot lately. Let’s treat each other with extreme gentleness. Rumi said: “be with those who help your being.”

Be with those who help your being.
Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.

A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don’t try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it’s too late for all you could become.

Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?

– Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Surround yourself with the people who fill up your cup rather than drain it, or spit bile into it. Make meals together, tell stories. Circle the wagons, cozy up. We’re in it for a long haul here, it looks like. Who are your people? Make room for them. I tell this to myself, most of all.

I have thought often of Sister Simone Campbell’s revelatory words of wisdom on how to be spiritually bold when I heard her interviewed by Krista Tippett from On Being:

One is the doing something. I sometimes think we, in the United States, think we ought to do something about everything and that it’s my job to fix everything. Well it’s not. That’s way beyond us. It’s more important, I think, that we listen deeply to our stories and then see where it leads. And that’s the piece. If we all do our part in community… Whatever our part is. Just do one thing. That’s all we have to do. But the guilt of the — or the curse of the progressive, the liberal, the whatever is that we think we have to do it all. And then we get overwhelmed. And I get all those solicitations in the mail. And I can’t do everything. And so I don’t do anything. But that’s the mistake. Community is about just doing my part.

I think doing your part is the toughest as a young person because you’re finding your place — you’re finding your place. And so the challenge always is looking to the future. It looks dark. When I was in our formation program in the community, this one retreat guy giving us a retreat said that faith was walking through a mist with your eyes wide open. And that’s what it feels like when you’re trying to find your place. But then the amazing thing is to look back. It looks like it all was a straight line. You can see the straight line of light and that makes us who we are. And so I refer to the groping in the dark and that piece of listening for the nudges and paying attention, paying attention to where the nudges are. And don’t procrastinate too much. Just do it. Act on it. And you’ll know the right way for you forward. If you find yourself not doing anything, beginning to save yourself — ‘I can’t do that, and I can’t do that’ — it’s because you’ve got too many ideas in your head. You’ve got to — focus can help. At least, that’s what happens to me.

For me, the religious life is about deep listening to the needs around us. The question becomes, ‘Am I responding in generosity? Am I responding in selfishness? Am I responding in a way that builds up people around me, that builds me up, that is respectful of who I am?’ All of those questions are at the heart of how we discern best steps forward.

It really is that inside listening to where you’re being called. And what do you — what gift do you have to offer to the situation? You could offer a bunch of lamentation, but lamentation doesn’t often help. And — but what gift do you have to offer in this — to this situation? Who can you connect with? Where — what can you offer? Now, the other piece is, is we can lament a lot, but the other piece that I haven’t really talked about it all and — but I goof off a lot — is joy. That joy is at the heart of this journey. And if we — too often, progressives are really grim. I mean, it’s not a very good advertisement. “Come join us. We’re so miserable.”

I mean, that really isn’t — because the amazing wonder is that we get to live this life in relationship. We do live in an amazing country as painful as it is with our arrogance. We get to know all kinds of people. We live in a hugely complex, multicultural setting, which is not shared in very many places in our world. There are tremendous possibilities. And I get to be here and talk with you all. I mean, that’s fabulous. So the giving, the finding your niche is about life giving and enjoying the life that is given to you and to others in the process.

Sister Simone Campbell

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Cheyenne or Arapaho woman Pretty Nose at Fort Keogh, Montana, United States. She is wearing cloth dress with woven cloth belt and buffalo robe, as well as earrings, bracelet, rings and necklace. Collotype. 1879

I don’t know where now I first came across these words, or who originally wrote them. If you know, please tell me so I can give credit where it’s due. But I want to share them all the same, because I think these are truths to sit with:

There’s a surge of divine feminine energy within us at this moment. We are undergoing a spiritual mutation of sorts. As we have entered the Aquarian age – there is a prediction that 1/3 of the world will commit suicide, 1/3 will go mad, and 1/3 will awaken. Earth IS shifting us vibrationally so that we do not kill her. Those of us who awaken will be the ones to survive. In order for our species to survive we need to function more from an empathetic state. This state is achieved through self-love, self-actualization, and service. It is no longer about status, but what we can give. We are no longer in the age where “me” and “how far I can get” is important. This is why we have a lot of people committing suicide in recent years, and why more and more people are turning to pharmaceuticals as they experience the intensity of this shift. Those of us who have stepped out of the illusion, who have experienced these gifts – it is from a place of love and service that we help our fellow beings. These gifts enable you to be of service from the shift of living from ego to living from spirit. The old way of living is done, if you’re reading these words – it’s over, that life, that you…gone. You can choose to delude yourself for some time, but know that the truth will never be dampened. You will always know and carry within you the truth of your spirit. You will face the dark and illuminate yourself. You will purge fears, egotistical chokeholds, and limitations. You will trip and fall many times, and then there will come a time where you do not trip so much. Where you live from the heart and can feel the world. Her rocks, her crevices, her breath, and her warnings. That time is now. Face your inner sun, and let it guide you. This is part of the shift from “me” to “we”. Every person is important. Every being is important. If you have this ability, you signed up for this role. Here are the beginning tools. They wouldn’t have been presented to you if some part of you was not looking for them. Grow, and expand. We need your love, we need your light, and we need you to be who you really are.

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“Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim is from the Sahel region of Chad, where devastating droughts and floods are now the norm. As co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, Ibrahim works to contain the humanitarian and ecological fallout from the vanishing of Lake Chad, a lifeline for an estimated 30 million people in Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger. ‘If women come together, they can have more impact than any agreement, than any negotiations,’ says Ibrahim. ‘Because we know that the future — it’s coming from us.’”– From The Glowing Colours

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I’ve shared this quote before, but I think it’s never been more relevant than it is now, so here you go:

“The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.” – T. H. White

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After the Election: Buddhist Wisdom for Hope and Healing

Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love – by bell hooks

This is always the measure of mindful practice—whether we can create the conditions for love and peace in circumstances that are difficult, whether we can stop resisting and surrender, working with what we have, where we are.

Fundamentally, the practice of love begins with acceptance — the recognition that wherever we are is the appropriate place to practice, that the present moment is the appropriate time. But for so many of us our longing to love and be loved has always been about a time to come, a space in the future when it will just happen, when our hungry hearts will finally be fed, when we will find love.

– bell hooks

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Sojourner Truth – Civil Rights Activist, Women’s Rights Activist

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We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump – by Sarah Kendzior

I want you to write about who you are, what you have experienced, and what you have endured.
Write down what you value; what standards you hold for yourself and for others.
Write about your dreams for the future and your hopes for your children.
Write about the struggle of your ancestors and how the hardship they overcame shaped the person you are today.
Write your biography, write down your memories. Because if you do not do it now, you may forget.
Write a list of things you would never do. Because it is possible that in the next year, you will do them.
Write a list of things you would never believe. Because it is possible that in the next year, you will either believe them or be forced to say you believe them.

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And so we press on in an attempt to achieve presence, wanting to contain it in our simple hands, in the overcrowded gaze and in the speechless heart. We try to become present. And so, the pain.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

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Notes from the Resistance: A Column on Language and Power – Summer Brennan, In Defense of Linguistic Infrastructure

No one person can defend everything in America that will need defending in the age of Trump. What we must do, instead, is to find our particular hills to defend, and then to defend them as if our freedom depended on it. Even if these battles are lost, the very act of writing down the progression of that loss, as Winston did, is an act of resistance. The hijacking of public language, as is happening now, is a way to shift perception—to bend and control thought—and must be resisted.

I would like to invite readers to join me in doing this. Get a diary or journal and write down as many words as you can that relate to the things that you value. Fascism favors sameness; it represents a desertification of language and thinking. You can fight sameness with diversity. Inside this thought-desert, we must learn to be jungle oases. If you plan to defend nature, write down the names of birds and landscape as a start. Write phoebe, warbler, wren, heron, starling, swift, swallow. Write dale, dell, coppice, coomb, swale, swarth. Let your language soar and spread. Get closer and write root, leaf, stem, stamen, stigma, filament, sepal, pistil, petal. Write down how the world and words around you change.”

I wrote this the morning I discovered the election results, way out in the wilds of the Atlas Mountains:

This feels so goddamn heavy. It just really hit me, and waves of grief & hot tears. Last night I lay in bed fervently praying for a miracle – and instead a different truth came to me: I remembered that I am a healer, & that the world will need us all to remember our purposes, our reasons for being here – and wake up fully to offer our love and light and strength and fierceness and wisdom to the world. The artists, writers, musicians, warriors for good must rise up together and commit to our lives and our work, our joy and our communities. The time for complacency and distraction, for division and numbness is over. Feel your fear, honor your despair – but don’t let it win. Don’t let him win. He can’t have our hearts, our minds, our spirits. Stay strong, brothers and sisters. Let’s keep each other whole.

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