There is optimism in the air. Today I cried a little – tears of relief, a bit of joy – for my friends across the pond. Because it feels as if something has lifted a little. Even if there is plenty of work to do, always, for equity, social justice and change. Even if the systems have rotten roots.
I’m noting here that in England, our system has rotten roots too. Our system doesn’t work, at least for those with little power. It enables people with a private education, with little understanding of the world around them (and more inclination to line their pockets than lead a nation), to sow the seeds of poison.
This year has shown just what it means to have dangerous incompetence driving policy and public health. The ten years in which we’ve had a Tory government has been a long slide into divisive, populist politics.
But even then, the news today has lifted some of that. The hope that next year, the US will finally have leadership that will work with their citizens to repair some of the damage of the past 4 years, and even the historical damage of America. It gives me hope as someone living here, where a history of colonialism, ableism, and racism still has such power.
We can overturn the last ten years of rotten planting, and plant for new growth. It’ll take time, but if anything, witnessing this has shown me that hope sustains the revolution (hope is an essential service, as Ra says). Hope is the soil for the plants we need to grow. And we need to keep planting.
‘I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.”
I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.
Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.
And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.’– Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider.