Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel once said:
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.
I am far removed from the shock and sadness debilitating me in my last post. Partly it is because I am thoroughly renewed by the reactions to Donald Trump’s election, where the younger generation is peacefully protesting, in big numbers, some issues that Trump campaigned on (where it was okay to be racist, misogynist, and so on), and they are coming together strongly to make a statement and to support community members who are immigrants and minorities. It seems Trump may be softening on some of his campaign promises; I’m not sure if he is flipping or just lied to get elected–but, regardless, I feel more strongly than ever that I should stand in solidarity with those who have been working so hard for both civil liberties and scientific integrity for years and years. We cannot be indifferent on these issues; that is when things fall and fail. Luckily, as I’m constantly reminded, so many millions of people are working toward equality and for the health of the planet Earth. If so-called leaders quit being public servants and don’t truly care for our world and us in it, then it’s up to us to stand up and tell them what we believe in.
We’ve had a good discussion in our Google newsgroup about hope and inaction. How to find hope? It doesn’t exist blindly. While hope may not have to be a strategy, it’s not completely passive either. When I see people demonstrating love and care for their communities, it gives me hope. And I want to participate in that.
What I work for in my local community is environmental–helping to ensure salmon survival in the local tributaries. Today, for instance, I hiked with the Streamkeepers quite a distance along one creek, looking for blockages in the creek. Salmon seem to have stopped getting through in one area. We cut invasive blackberry bushes, rooted out piled-up debris, and I came home muddy from head to toe. This is the kind of work I truly enjoy, even with the fishy smell of dead salmon who had already spawned and the rancid smell, and then sight, of a bloated, wet, dead rat in the creek. Yesterday Morgan and I also went on a small hike at Belcarra–between yesterday and today’s walks, I hope my toe is healing. I can’t run on it yet, but being on the trail was also great as far as getting into nature and renewing my spirit.
But I feel very passionately also about going beyond my local community to show that I’m not going to walk through this life with the heavy weight of indifference on my shoulders. I want to participate in helping to create the kind of world that is fair and just, the kind that is equal for all, the kind that is healthy for all. It’s like this has been building up for quite a while. Not only that but I want to be around the kinds of people who are just that caring as well. (Definitely not the violent protester types.) I need to feel that and be around it.
I used to be more of an activist, the kind to march and demonstrate, mostly for the rights of wild Pacific salmon and healthy rivers. I’ve also been to anti-pipeline protests, but I got too busy in more academic endeavors in the last year and haven’t been to any lately. After this election, I was kickstarted to get involved again.
Today we decided to travel to Washington DC in January for the Woman’s March the day after Inauguration. It is a peaceful rally with permits and national leaders, so I hope it will be safe. We just arranged our flight and hotel today, needing to stay in Maryland because hotels are getting sold out in the capital itself — but the metro does seem to be pretty vast. I’m excited because I’ve never even been to Washington DC, and hey, if Trump changes his tune and does the right things (since he seems to change his mind a lot), then at least we’ll get to see the nation’s capital, which I’ve never been to, and have a nice long weekend. But something tells me that there will be enough reason to stand up and show Trump that Americans need him to lead in a better way than he campaigned. His campaign’s hateful rhetoric implied intent to dismantle our civil liberties and environmental progress, and even if he changes his tune, the impact of his vitriol is already obvious and has become greater than his intent. With the staff he’s been talking about and a Republican-dominated senate and house, I know things are going to be very dismal. We can sit back and do nothing, or go out the door and do something.
This trip means also that I am going to put grad school aside for a year minimally. I may never go back to school, but if I do it will be because that is the avenue I see myself in. I still do see it, but with this big upset in democracy, I feel called to be active in working with others to renew the country I was born and raised in.
For now, enjoy some quiet and scenic photos from this weekend.
The featured image is one I took at Belcarra yesterday.