Woman Enough

Just listen for a sec, okay?

Posted in Uncategorized by womanenough on November 16, 2011

Today’s post was going to be about heating with wood. But I changed my mind.

I have a confession.

Of the many perks that came along with leaving my life in Washington and turning to the sea, among them was insulating myself from the politically fueled world in Washington. While I lived there, I was fortunate to be able to march and protest many times on many issues that are important to me. I also got to watch thousands of other people protest for things that were important to them. Sometimes I agreed, sometimes I was disgusted. I was always proud to live in a place where citizens could speak.

2005

My first morning in DC happened to be President Bush’s second inauguration, and the peace protest it inspired happened to begin in the park behind my new apartment. I marched, the first time, because of a lucky accident.

Protesting feels powerful, and when it’s done correctly, the level of positive energy it creates is infectious and inspiring. When it feels that the world is hopeless to your cause, there is nothing more affirming than a group of people harnessing their hurt, outrage, and passion into something hopeful.

In the six years I lived in our nation’s capitol, the government felt less and less hopeful to me, and when I left I was still marching for the same issues; people are dying in an unjust war and all Americans do not share an equal right to marry. No matter how disheartened I felt by those two facts, I was always cheered by the notion that I lived in a place where people from across the country gathered to speak.

Everyone had a voice.

2008

When Occupy Wall Street first took shape, I was sailing and it wasn’t on my radar (pun intended, I don’t actually, have radar).  I’ve heard more and more as I’ve been on land, but for the most part, I’ve disregarded it. I was angry about the pepper spray incident in Oakland, and I have tried to practice patience when overhearing people say things about the participants motives, intentions and values that I do not believe are true. I’ve read the paper, but I have not, until today, found myself sinking into a place of anger, hopelessness, or disappointment.

The NYPD took away the voice of American citizens in Zucotti Park this week. Citizens whose entire movement is centered around anger that no one is listening. These are the people who decided to go speak, while the rest of us report to work and hope things will get better, hope as a nation we will start listening to each other, taking care of each other, practicing the values of peace, fairness, hard work, determination, that we all should share, regardless of income.

I can ignore ignorance and irresponsible government, and I prefer to ignore corporate greed. But I can’t ignore robbing anyone of their right to speak. today, I’m a little ashamed of how removed I’ve chosen to remain from the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s not easy anymore, I don’t live down the street from the center of the action.

But complacence should not be the default, just because it’s easy.

So I am officially offering my congratulations to the Occupiers, for using their voices. I hope it’s not over, because I just started paying attention.

At the same time that I am outraged by police brutality and abuse of authority, I also understand that two months of people sleeping outside in small spaces can get rank. So maybe, instead of silencing the passionate with billy clubs, we can find away to honor our Constitution and remain reasonably sanitary. I’m just throwing it out there, because the New York City government has a job to do, and I’d rather they did something positive with it than trample on my rights.

To all of us who are living our lives, quietly and without disruption while all of this happens in distant cities, can we ask ourselves how willing we are to ignore those who choose to speak? Because they may not look like us, or talk like us, or convey their anger the way we do, but next week it might be the issue that’s close to your heart that is swept under the rug. And then you’ll be angry, and it will feel all the more hopeless because no one is there to listen.

Next time I’ll be back to heating a small fiberglass boat with wood. But for today, I’m listening.

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