Notes on Reciprocity


October 14, 2018

My life as a moment before me, a goal or a place I’m moving toward. Or sometimes a moment behind, a memory of an event or feeling. It’s difficult for me be aware in the present, seeing time linearly. I’m trying to change…perhaps, cyclically?

Writing comes easy in my head and next to impossible in execution. This isn’t entirely my fault, I’ve been reading authors like Thoreau, Solnit, Baldwin and Kimmerer - they make it seem so easy. 

Autumn is here with crisply spoken sentences streaming in through the windows, the wind summoning darker skies and grayer moods. I shift between excitement and melancholy at the thought of winter. Excitement for the plans I’m laying, and melancholy because guilt follows fear. I’m not as courageous as I want to be.

I found a monarch chrysalis amongst dead branches I was removing from the front garden. After I inspected it and the beautiful dried flower it was attached to, I brought it inside and secured the stem in a floral frog. Every morning I whispered words of encouragement to her on my way out of the door. Then suddenly I couldn’t feel her anymore. Her cocoon went dark and tiny holes appeared - the wasps had eaten her. 

That week I called my mom and we spoke for two hours about the Kavanaugh hearing in the wake of Dr. Ford’s testimony. On opposing sides, we were able to engage in civil, even tender, conversation. Her views tempered mine and mine, hers. 

Could it really be that simple? Is this nonviolent resistance? 

I watch as fellow feminists publish strongly worded posts targeted at republicans, conservatives or white men - addressing them as one group. And I see friends and family publish strongly worded posts targeted at democrats, progressives, and fellow women - addressing them as one group. Our differences of opinions and world views have become our bullet points for conversation. Our differences define us. Left from Right, Male from Female. Wealthy from Poor. Us from Them.

What about what makes us alike? 

My mother, and almost every woman, will agree that Trump’s comments regarding Dr. Ford, victims of sexual assault and woman in general are a far cry from Presidential.

They believe Dr. Ford. While not her entire recollection (and it’s worth asking them why), they believe the woman who spoke up.

This is common ground. 

Understanding this commonality between us, and the many others, is key to any sort of solidarity. And the future of feminism, which is in need of a name that better reflects its more all encompassing mission: to defend, protect and promote all life, depends on this. 

See Dr. King’s 6 Principles of Nonviolence. 

This is the nonviolent resistance. 

I’m currently reading: 

Hope In the Dark - Rebecca Solnit

Braiding Sweetgrass - Robin Wall Kimmerer

Walden and Civil Disobedience - Henry David Thoreau 

Notes of a Native Son - James Baldwin 

You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train - Howard Zinn

And every issue of Harper’s and every episode of On Being