Powerful Conversation at the End of Inauguration / Women’s March Weekend, With Some 30 Adat Shalomers

What a privilege to be part of a group as thoughtful, spiritual, and civic-minded as Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation.  I hope that the attached source sheet (adat_shalom_community_convo_post-inaug_01-22-17), prepared for our shul’s end-of-the-big-weekend and beginning-of-the-new-not-normal open community conversation, might be instructive for others, just as it was helpful for us yesterday.  The questions it raises are in sharp relief right now, in the opening hours and days of a challenging new administration — but they will be current for years to come.

The attached source sheet (legal size, 8.5″ x 14″, fyi) is basically what was handed out yesterday at Adat Shalom — except that then, the questions at the bottom of page two simply had blank spaces below them, encouraging attendees to think freshly about them.  They supplied the answers,now shown here.  Their answers are insightful and useful, but they’re not complete; now, go add your own, as well…    The questions and answers are copied below, so you can easily take from them, and add to them.  For the photos and poems and prose reflections (from the likes of Marge Piercy, Cynthia Kaufman, and Valarie Kaur), see the attached sheet.  Blessings, all…

 

HOW I’LL STRENGTHEN MYSELF IN THE MONTHS & YEARS AHEAD, to be in it for the long haul:

1, stay informed and stay vigilant, while unplugging as needed so as to not get oversaturated.     2, emotional self-awareness.      3, practice modulated responses to White House voice, tweets, etc.     4, remember the power of language; avoid ‘us vs them’ (it’s inaccurate for no side is monolithic, and unproductive to boot).      5, practice the “five-minute hand-wringing rule” – let conversations or funks go just a few minutes into despair, then move to something productive.      6, stay healthy, through exercise, etc.       7, don’t neglect music, arts, humor, etc.     8, meditate!     9, get outdoors!     10, seek out friends, do positive things together.      11, ______________.

 

HOW I’LL STRENGTHEN OUR COMMUNITY (however defined!) IN THE MONTHS & YEARS AHEAD:

1, reach out to folks who voted differently – hear them out openly, learn from them – ‘burst my little bubble.’     2, focus on commonalities with those who voted differently (see Anne Roiphe in Tablet); work together where possible; stay open.      3, find common cause with conservative groups; respectfully try to both understand and brainstorm.      4, support the free press – thank networks who fact-check, write to outlets who fall short, subscribe to papers (like the Wash Post!) which hire more reporters.       5, reach relatives and friends in states with moderate or ‘swing’ senators; encourage them to speak up.        6, when feeling down, channel energies into service for others.         7, donate more, and volunteer more – ‘do my part with groups combatting bigotry and injustice.’        8, support mediating structures; de-emphasize the overtly political.       9, hold and attend group sessions like this; bear witness to one another.        10, go to shul!       11, ________________________.

 

HOW I’LL PRACTICE SOLIDARITY WITH MARGINALIZED OTHERS, IN THE MONTHS & YEARS AHEAD:

1, learn social media, practice it, learn to protect it (e.g. server vulnerability).      2, tweet widely on issues like voting rights and First Amendment concerns.      3, work with NGO’s helping the “other” in our midst to be less marginalized.      4, understand our own privilege (educated, white, straight, etc), to better communicate and be in solidarity with those from marginalized groups.       5, smile, engage, telegraph openness, ‘generate joy with my eyes,’ when see someone from a marginalized group.      6, ‘teach others how to fish’ – apply our skills toward refugees, ex-convicts, historically marginalized folks.      7, build relationships – stand up more strongly for the ‘other’ because we know them personally.      8, double down on time-tested strategies: write to newspapers, lobby legislators, etc.      9, practice the discipline of activism, setting aside real time for it – and yet, go easy, take breaks as needed.       10, protect the Earth!      11, keep on marching!      12, ____________…

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