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Quiet the actions, uphold the ideas and values

Doing something worth writing about has been particularly challenging for me, especially as of late. Perhaps, it isn’t so much about the “doing” itself as it is about understanding the value in what I’m doing. As we go about our days, things happen. We are all doing something and are having an impact on the world. Knowing what to write about based on what we do, well, that’s the hard part.

One of the reasons I want to write 300 blog posts this year is to help me see what it is that animates my life. We’re eight days into the year and I’ve already missed three days. When I realised this, I started thinking about what it is that made it difficult for me to find something to write about on those days. Nothing about any of our days has been “normal” in the last year. These days, just trying to make sense of the world keeps things interesting.

I wanted to write something about what happened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday but I felt like I didn’t know enough about the issue and the circumstances surrounding it. At first, I felt as though it wasn’t my place to say anything because I couldn’t quite understand why it was important in my life. In isolation, the event itself doesn’t have an impact on my life. Within the larger context of race relations, the storming of the Capitol very much does. I should have taken the time to write about what I was thinking then. Waiting helps perpetuate the problem.

When there’s no doing to write about, you should write something worth reading. Writing is all about communicating ideas – thinking.

Wrestling with our thoughts, coming to our own conclusions, often takes more work than does taking action. Each is effective in its own way. Words and ideas stick around for much longer. Ideas can inspire action, just as actions can inspire ideas. We can never truly understand anyone’s intentions but we can adopt their ideas for our own. The agility of ideas is what makes them so powerful, more powerful than actions.

What happened on Wednesday shouldn’t have. The protestors felt the need to act in order to be heard. What the world is responding to, however, is not so much the actions of those protestors but the response that they received from law enforcement officials. It’s no secret that the activists in the Black Lives Matter movement were treated unnecessarily aggressively and with deadly force. The kindness shown to those who overran the symbol – the idea – of democracy in the United States is deplorable. That Congress resumed activity afterward is even more infuriating.

The United States has been engaged in an ideological war for at least the last five years. When the Republicans lost the election, the supply chain for the far-right broke. All they were left to fight with was what they had remaining. There was no longer anything for them to lose. It was an act of desperation.

Power is a funny thing. It’s something given, not taken. A coup is an attempt to force the resignation of power. Any semblance of power gained through these means is tenuous because the real power doesn’t belong to those who claim to have it. It was never given to them. It exists only as an idea, which, in itself, is powerful.

The civil rights movement hasn’t ended because you can’t kill the idea. Trump and his supporters will only live on as a memory worth forgetting because of what he and they have done to uncover the true nature of white supremacy in the United States. Without anything to write about that’s worth reading, they have brought attention to themselves by doing something for others to write about.

We must quiet the actions and uphold the ideas and values consistent with an equal, equitable, and just society. Thank you to those who didn’t wait to do this.


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