|Mikey Burton / New York Times|
–Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian (November 9, 2016)
All of a sudden we live in interesting times.
Polyamory and alternative lifestyles may or may not become a direct target, but we're in for a time of deliberate official ignorance, cruelty, and minority scapegoating, led by a narcissistic sociopath who gives license to the worst elements around and behind him.
Moose and I remind ourselves: We do not choose the place and time in history we are born into. But we choose how we respond to it. Will our society, and our vigorous little subset of relationship radicals, face “the times that try men’s souls,” as Thomas Paine said in circumstances much worse? Maybe our fears are exaggerated? Whatever comes, we resolve to meet it head-on with courage, goodness of principle, fact-based good judgment, duty (self-chosen), and honor. And Moose and I have pledged to each other to, in Kurt Vonnegut’s two-word summation of life, “Be kind.”
1. I’m typing this on a plane to the Beyond the Love poly conference in Columbus, Ohio. I’m running a discussion session there tomorrow on how the change of government may impact polyfolks and the polyamory movement.
The purpose of the discussion (which I've promised to keep firmly on-topic) is to bring out people’s ideas for ways that we can support each other with care and mutual respect across opinions; provide for our common defense if times get bad; and carry forward our radical message of relationship choice with power, clarity, and boldness. Notes will be taken, and a summary of the gathering’s ideas will be published next week on this site and by Beyond The Love. What an appropriate title that is for the conference now.
2. As I said, I don't think that the polyamory movement will become a very direct target of the new government and its supporters; they have bigger targets in their sights. It may be fairly easy to skate by while living a non-mainstream life if you’re as socially privileged as much of our movement is. For a while.
The test of your character — the test by which you will forever be judged an honor to your time or a cowardly disgrace — will be in how you stand up for those who are in harm's way before you are. Remember Pastor Niemöller.
3. On Wednesday evening our Unitarian church, as it has does every November 9th for decades, held a gathering on the town common in memory of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass.” On this night in 1938, Nazi civilians sacked and burned thousands of Jewish businesses, homes, and synagogues. This was when the Nazis discovered that they could commit hate crimes on a mass scale and get away with it. The crowd on the Common this year was unusually large and emotional. As always, we pledged “Never again,” but the pledge seemed less theoretical than usual. We began to realize that it is a pledge to put "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" on the line right here should the time ever come — and to do it while there is still a choice. Which means it will be a very hard choice.
4. As many of you know, Moose and I are Democrats. We spent weekends and the four final days up to the election canvassing door-to-door in towns in New Hampshire. I recommend this activity; it's good for you on many levels. We are damn proud: we helped to deliver New Hampshire away from Trump by, at last count, 2,528 votes out of 700,000 cast. Not that this made a difference in the end — but if some other states had broken differently, it would have decided the presidency. You never know.
More consequentially, we helped to elect a new Democratic U.S. senator in New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, by a margin of 733 votes out of 700,000 cast. She declares that she will fight for the values of goodness and civilization against the new administration as necessary, starting with fighting to block threats to women and to minorities of all stripes, who face the most immediate threats.
We Did Our Bit.
5. Take care of yourself. At the Kristallnacht observance, our minister read into the microphone a letter written by E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and other classics. It was 1943, in the depths of World War II. A reader wrote to White that he was afraid he was losing faith in his fellow man. White wrote back,
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate.
Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time.
I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly.
It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time, waiting to sprout when the conditions are right....
Hang on to your hat.
Hang on to your hope.
And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
Folks, wind the clock. It will firm you up. If your duty calls, and maybe it is already calling, remember Franklin Veaux's perceptive observation: "Life rewards people who move in the direction of greatest courage." You will certainly not be alone.
Back to Polyamory in the News with my next post, I hope.