And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
Christmas Bells, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
on which the carol "I heard the bells on Christmas day" is based
Today, while American democracy was being strangled by the very institution put in place to protect it, the Russian ambassador was murdered in Turkey; in what is apparently a terrorist attack, nine people were murdered in Berlin and many more injured; a gunman wounded three people in a Swiss mosque; and in Aleppo, civilians suffer horrendously and die, caught in the crossfire of a long and ugly war. These are dark days and they are only going to get darker.
Still wounded and in shock over the November election and by the gleeful arrangements being made for the rape and pillage of our country and our people --- happily aided and abetted by many of our friends, neighbors, and even loved ones --- liberals and progressives are understandably stunned, depressed, and sick. And we all have days that are really, really bad. Just a few days ago, I woke up in the very early morning hours from a mere two hours of sleep thinking, “Trump. Trump. Trump.” Last week, I had one of those days where I just cried on and off all day, whenever my mind wasn’t completely occupied and sometimes even when it was. I had some very bad days, but I also had some good days, and friends, that’s just how it’s going to be for all of us for a while. If you’re having a bad day, reach out. And if you see someone struggling, be a friend. Prop them up. Remind them that there are still good people in this world and we are going to stick together and we are going to take care of each other. Then do that. Take care of them.
On social media today, so many of my friends are hurting, terrified, despairing. And although I I should probably feel a great deal more despair than I do right now, today I am strong. Today I am holding out my arms to you and I have room to hug you all. Today, I have love and comfort and a message of hope for all of you.
And here’s why.
Today, I spent the better part of the day at a rally at my state capital, holding up a sign that had terrifying photos of Putin and Trump and read “Electors, take care who you PUTIN the White House. REJECT the President Elect!” and on the other side, a picture of Alexander Hamilton and the words, “Electors, save our democracy! Dump Trump!”. Chanting things like, “We need a leader, not a hateful Tweeter” and “Defend our democracy”. Singing America the Beautiful and We Shall Overcome and Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.
One of the speakers said to us, “The evil don’t care about the truth; they don’t care about hurting others to get what they want; they don’t care about spreading news from spurious sources; they don’t care about looking at one tiny corner of the picture and using that to build policy; they don’t care about destroying the earth; they don’t care about racism, sexism, and homophobia. And that makes our job harder, because we do care, and we are going to take the high road. We have to be nonviolent. We have to stand in the truth.”
And that’s why I went.
I didn't go because I believed the electors' minds would be changed. I nurtured a very small, cautious hope; but I didn’t believe in the miracle. I went because I believe it is important for our dissident voices to be heard, for us to remind the world that Donald Trump did NOT receive a mandate, and that it is CRITICAL for us to fight, resist, obstruct bad policy and bad law and generally kick up the biggest fuss we can manage. I went because since November 9, I have been floating around in the same miasma of misery, fear, frustration, and grief as the rest of you; and though I’ve read many articles and signed many petitions and made many plans, I could find no focus for the activism it is now my duty as a patriotic American to undertake.
I went to stand in the truth.
At the rally, I found myself being interviewed by a news station from Dallas, by a journalist with kind, sad eyes. My friend Keenan and I lifted our strong voices with enthusiasm when the folk guitarists played and sang old protest songs. When the young organizers of the rally asked for volunteers to stand up and speak, I did, and I led the crowd in singing America the Beautiful. Afterwards, many people thanked me, and the guitarists came up to chat, and I discovered what one of my areas of service might be.
Folks, they need us musicians at these rallies. They need us to show up with our instruments, our voices, and silly little classroom percussion noisemakers. They need us to lead songs and to support the songleaders with our strong, sure voices. They need us to rev up the crowds. Actors, singers, public speakers --- they need those of us who know how to work a crowd to stand up, speak, keep the energy and purpose and enthusiasm high. Before I left, I had exchanged contact info with the other musicians and promised to help bring more of us to the next event.
My friends, I know you are beyond sad, and scared, and heartsick. But I leave you with this thought: ACTION is the ANTIDOTE to despair. Get off social media, get away from the screens, get out of the house. Go out among the people until you find the action that calls to you, and then take it. Get involved.
We are noisemakers, friends --- let’s get out there and make some noise.