When Viola Davis spoke at this year’s Women’s March in LA she talked about time. She brought up the words of Martin Luther King Jr. when he said: “I’m not ready to wait 100 to 200 years for things to change. I think actually time is neutral. That it can either be used constructively or destructively. That human progress rarely rolls in on inevitability. It is through human dedication and effort that we move forward. And when we don’t work, time becomes an ally to the primitive forces of social stagnation, and the guardians of the statue quo are in their oxygen tanks keeping the old order alive. So time needs to be helped by every single moment doing right.”
But we all know that doing right isn’t always the comfortable thing.
Speaking up in the face of racism on a Tuesday afternoon in a crowded post office is not comfortable, but I recently met someone who did it. Running for office if you are not a politician is nerve-wracking, but still, people are joining the race. Speaking out about your sexual assault is just about as far from comfort as you can get, but still, so many people are coming forward to share their stories.
I saw an awesome shirt at this year’s march that said, “Last year we marched. This year we are running.” Female political engagement has increased 10 fold. Our “Commander and Tweet” might be a lousy human being, but he is one hell of a catalyst. Sitting in a coffee shop just yesterday I was invited to an intersectional discussion on race that will be hosted in someone’s home. The woman said, “You know, it’s small, but it’s what we can do.”
So during this time, let us be empowered enough to know what we can do. Let us be empowered enough to know what are constructive — and deconstructive — uses of our time.
We have an obsession in this culture of being “on top of the news.” Yet, so often, the news stays on top of us. If we let the news debilitate us then the status quo wins. If the oppressing systems can keep us hopeless, then the powerful can keep us helpless.
The greatest thing we, as individuals, can do for the resistance (or as some say, the insistence) is to keep our hope and love alive — because it’s love that fuels the positive action and hope that imagines a brighter future. We must not ever let the fear of being perceived as naive overrule our potential.
What is naive, however, is not realizing our power, not thinking our vote matters, and not showing or speaking up because we think it won’t make a difference. It is naive to think that the only reality is the one the news cycle is feeding us. Naivety is giving up.
How you nurture your love and protect your hope is unique to you. Maybe you replace one nightly news cycle a week with assisting a grassroots program you would like to see make an impact. Or maybe you take that time to practice using your voice to stand up to injustice, so when the uncomfortable time comes, you will have a foundation to jump from.
In a speech, the organizers of the Women’s March said:
“Will you tire? Yes, of course you will. We have also been tired. Will you burn out because the injustice is too strong? Because the racism is too ingrained? Please do not — we cannot lose you. When you are at the precipice, about to turn back, dig into love. When you organize out of a place of love — love for your community, love for your democracy, love for your freedom — you cannot burn too bright. This type of love is infinite. In this love you will find the endurance to organize, to resist, to fight, and to envision a better world. Let love feed and inspire you. Love is your strongest tool against oppression.”
Let us not fall victim to cynicism or stagnation. Let us persevere and keep fighting… and continue loving. In the words of Van Jones: “When it gets harder to love, let’s love harder.”