How to March Every Day

Photo from The Tennessean:

By the OTN Staff

It seems that we’ve all fallen under the purportedly ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Our times are decidedly interesting and the responses throughout the world are both sobering and inspiring. Living within a democracy where free speech is held as a virtue means that we have opportunities to hear from and learn from one another. This week, our staff discussed their experiences and impressions of the women’s marches throughout the country as well as other recent actions. Here are some points we’d like to share about how you can take the energy and inspiration from the direct actions of the past week and live them out in your day-to-day life.

KEEP SHOWING UP – To birth a movement, it must last longer than a day. Take the enthusiasm you are feeling and allow it to move you forward. As it’s said, “get in where you fit it.” Look at your own skills and abilities and find the best place for them to be put to use. Trying to build a new world is messy and bridging long-standing divides can be painful. Practice deep patience with yourself and others who are trying to grow.

PRACTICE RADICAL KINDNESS – The movement is not a competition. Some of us have been marching and organizing for a long time. Others are just discovering their power and voices. We must truly be cooperative rather than competitive.

LISTEN – Listen to all the sources you can. Search out those sources whose experiences are different from yours. Be sure you are getting points of view that are new, from people who experience oppression and injustice directly, especially in ways you might not. Discuss and learn, and when things get uncomfortable, make a conscious effort to react with empathy rather than defensiveness.

RESIST – Oh, so many things to resist right now! Resist the pull towards forming opinions without learning. Resist the fear of not speaking up. Resist entropy and resist despair. Resist the temptation to believe that if something doesn’t effect you directly, it’s not an evil worth fighting against. Resist complacency. Resist all that gets in the way of radical love and inclusiveness on both a personal, individual level and a societal, national level.

SELF-CARE – Perhaps the most radical thing of all is to care for oneself. We cannot be in all places at all times for all the things and people. Taking time apart to restore and renew is necessary—it’s a long road ahead. Audre Lorde wrote in Burst of Light, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

GIVE DOLLARS, OR TIME, OR BOTH – If you have the time to give, volunteer. If you have the extra funds to give, give. If you can do both, even better. Either way it’s important to put your money or your feet where your mouth is. Everyone can talk about social justice and activism, but doing something about it is what makes the difference.

Our times may be interesting, but Open Table Nashville isn’t going anywhere. We are proud to stand alongside all of our friends and partners to resist now and every day. May you march on!