Winter is here. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, that reference will work. Me, while I love me some GoT, I’m also from New England. We know winters. And the hard, cold times are here. You can feel it, can’t you? We’ve gotta talk about surviving the winters, about combating outrage fatigue, about not going numb.
There is a moment as every New England winter arrives, where everyone wanders around in denial that this is really happening. We refuse to turn on the heat or put up the storm windows. We all walk around the house slightly cranky because we’re just a little too cold for comfort. That was a few weeks ago when we all asked, “Is this really happening? What have we become?”
Then eventually we all solemnly nod our heads, accept that thing we all knew was coming one day. We start doing the work to buckle down for the winter, for the coming of the darkness and cold.
The dark days are beginning
Now winter is here. Really here. The dark days are upon us. There is no more time to build up your reserves, or warn passers-by that we must beware of the signs of fascism and speak up. No, it is here:
- Our president wishes people would “sit up at attention” to his words the same way they do in a notorious totalitarian regime.
- There is a mural in a children’s detention center with the face of our president talking of “winning the war.” War? What war? He’s never presided over a war–for heavens sakes, Cadet Bone Spurs has never come within 1,000 miles of one–but he is in the process making one of his own design on our own lands.
- His advisers are quoting the Bible to justify the morality their actions, the same verse used in Nazi Germany, in American slavery, and in South African apartheid.
- There is a newspaper cartoonist who was fired for being outspoken about this administration’s policies.
- 52% of Republicans polled would support postponing elections to 2020 if the President recommended it.
All this in just the past week. The dark days are beginning.
This winter will be long.
I’m sorry. All signs point to it. I wish I could sing you sweet lullabies of impeachment and sweeping electoral victories, however the wheels of justice turn slowly if they turn at all and I am an activist who has fought for immigration reform before. Every round was ugly and knock-down; we came out bloody and broken and we only managed to save a few. And this time they’re taking children hostage. The winds are howling outside our doors.
We are in for some storms. We need you to be strong.
This post is about gearing up for the winter. Not about the snowflakes already flying in the air. Anyone with their eyes and hearts open can see the oncoming storm.
I’m writing to you because the numbness is already starting to set in. Despite all that is happening, people are nowhere nearly as outraged as they were a year ago. Outrage fatigue is wrapping its frostbitten fingers around our hearts.
This post is the drumbeat for you to stoke the fires. We need your heart to burn brave and strong to melt the numbness which threatens us all. We need you to fight against the outrage fatigue. We need you to build a bonfire in your heart to blaze against the darkness.
We will form a human chain out into that darkness.
We will work together to reach out and pull others into our snug homes. Mothers. Children. Fathers. Families. Warrior Lawyers and relief workers. We will hand out hot chocolates and mulled ciders. We will stoke our bonfires so that they can make soup for masses.
I see you. I see you tuning into the news and being heartbroken every day, a thousand times over. I see you picking up the phones to call the Powers that Be and pour out your anguish, anger, and grief. I see you talking to your friends, encouraging them to do the same. I see some of you digging into your pockets to send money to the warriors on the front lines. Good.
And then I see you sit back–for all that activity took perhaps an hour–and wonder what are you supposed to do with yourselves? How can you stay at home knowing that there are people still out in that storm?
What more can you do?
You must heal yourself.
Every day, you must take the time to heal yourself. This winter is going to injure you daily, its cruelty is going to make your bones ache and your fingers crack, and you must go home and get warm again.
We will go out into that howling wilderness for as long as we can stand it. And then we will put down our phones, step away from our computers, and turn back to our homes.
You cannot stay out there forever. Your heart will freeze. At a certain point the pain will become too much, your heart will work to protect itself, and you will stop feeling. Your outrage will numb over. They call it outrage fatigue. It is political hypothermia. You will go to sleep, and we will not be able to wake you. That is what death-by-winter looks like.
We need you alive and woke and outraged and fighting.
Come in, dear souls, come in to get warm.
Every day you must go out and rescue a few more people from the storms, and then you must come in and get warm.
You must take that heart that has been cracked wide open, and at the end of the day you must point it towards home.
With all your newfound vulnerability you must reach down and hug your little ones.
You must cook a hearty meal for your family.
You must love your neighbor and bring them meatballs.
You must take your family for a walk in nature, to nowhere in particular.
You must find your favorite music track and play it as loud as you can.
You must call those old friends and laugh and laugh.
You must brush the dust off your paints and start creating.
YOU MUST DRINK OF LIFE.
You must drink of life as if all our lives depended on it, because they do.
Every meal cooked, every friend hugged, every laugh, every song is a radical act.
We will feed ourselves healthy food because it will give us the energy to stay on the phones.
We will exercise and move our bodies so that our legs will be strong to march.
We will hug our families so that our arms are strong enough to embrace the world.
We will sing our songs out into the darkness to scare away the monsters out there, and so that others can find us.
We will giggle until we cry and laugh from the bottom of our bellies so that we remember how, because laughter in our campaigns will help us win.
We will write and paint and rap and dance, so that our emotions run free and our outrage can flow.
We will sit and tell stories of heroes and people affected, so that our legends will inspire us to keep fighting.
We will lie down and sleep when tired because there will be a tomorrow, and another tomorrow after that.
We will feed the bonfires of our souls so that we can keep blazing.
We will take turns going out into the cold, and tending the home fires until we have weathered these storms, until we have pulled us all through this nor’easter.
Beat the drums
Beat the drums, sound the alarms. The winter is here. Together we will build the bonfires that will see us through, that will warm us against the storms, that will warm us against the creeping numbness of outrage fatigue, that will feed our armies.
Gather your firewood, gather your friends. Lean on each other. Form the human chain and hold strong. Here we go together out into the winds. We’ve got this.