Monday, December 12, 2016

Nausea and the El Quixote Block, Electors and Bread and Puppet

The El Quixote Block chasing windmills in Union Square.

“The Nausea has not left me and I don't believe it will leave me so soon; but I no longer have to bear it, it is  no longer an illness or a passing fit: it is I.” 
 Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

It was a weird week.  Lots of good feelings, followed by terror.  Most days`I worried about the fate of our democracy, unions, organizing, reproductive autonomy, the courts, the climate;  others, I saw the possibility of people standing up and getting organized, pure anarchism in action.  It’s a powerful combination of feelings. Some mornings since the election, I have awoken with the feeling of nausea that John Paul Sartre describes.  Others, I laugh at the absurdity.  Then the reality of it all comes back and I feel the reoccurring nausea.  And I get to work, writing, teaching, organizing, planning or attending meetings. 
“All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up,” wrote James Baldwin. 
I am certainly not an artist, but I am moved by art, the movement of bodies, of music and letters, which help us remember our humanness, helping us heal and feel.   Pete Seeger always said music helps him feel hope.  Its always darkest before the dawn, he sang all the way until the end.  “Through all this world of joy and sorrow, we still can have singing tomorrow.”
At my college, our students held a rally for Sanctuary on Thursday, calling for unity among students and the CUNY community.  We talked about creating a solid wall of support for each other, especially if the deportations start. 
We all spoke about the need to connect and support each other, share meals, mutual aid, creating a sense of sanctuary among ourselves.
Sunday, I made plans to meet other New Yorkers at Union Square to reach out the electoral college to vote their “conscience for a reasonable alternative” to the current nightmare. 
Leaving for Judson before the Union Square event, I looked for a placard in the basement, stumbling upon my old Don Quixote book bloc sign.  It seemed appropriate.  This is a hail mary my friend Anna wrote me the other day, inviting me to take part.  Its like chasing windmills.  But what choice do we have. We have to fight.
Before Union Square, we went to Judson for the third week of advent.  Micah talked about the need for us to feel joy in the midst of our organizing.  Otherwise, there is no point.
I stood up to talk about the Quixote feeling I was having, chasing windmills, writing electors.
Standing there in Union Square, person after person joined, and we wrote highly personal letters to the electoral college, asking them to think about the world we are leaving for our families and kids, and future generations.  Many were immigrants who left horrible situations, fearing reprisals here.  Caroline recalled her mother’s experiences growing up in Germany in the 1930’s when people who were different were condemned.
Number two was with me.  Finishing at Union Square we saw the first snow flurries and ran to catch the Bread and puppet show.  WE laughed and danced and enjoyed the show.
Walking about number two danced in the snow. 
“Where is that place that sells the beignets” she asked.
“Rays across from Tompkins Square Park.  Wanna go?
So we smiled and walked over, feeling the magic of winter enveloping us.
The flurries filled the beautiful winter sky. There is nothing like the first snow day to renew hope, even if we are chasing windmills.

“I have crossed the seas, I have left cities behind me,
and I have followed the source of rivers towards their
source or plunged into forests, always making for other
cities…I could never turn back any more than a record can spin
in reverse. And all that was leading me where ?
To this very moment...” 
― Jean-Paul SartreNausea

My friend Anna got the ball rolling with her email last week.
Hey Friends,

This is something I've been working on. Many of you know just how much I LOVE the USPS. And this is a great use of it...

Join the battle to stop Donald Trump by mailing a personal message to Electoral College members using these postcard templates my team and I created. Together, let's convince the electors to back the popular vote and protect the country from an irresponsible leader.

We only need 39 electors to block Trump — and one has already joined the fight. That's 38 left to go. The vote is on December 19. Your postcard could make the difference.

Attached is a printable template plus a pop-up kit it to get other people involved. Last weekend we used the kit to gather one hundred postcards in one hour to send to the electors. ​Every voice right now counts! Instructions below.

Join the effort in just three actions:
1.      Print the Elector Postcard Home Kit. Choose a template, add your message, affix a photo and stamp, and mail it to an elector. Do it with friends! (Remember: postcards need to be on slightly thick paper for USPS to send them. We recommend printing on card stock; you can also glue your card to a photo but be sure you think it's 'postcard thickness.')
2.      Print the Elector Postcard Community Kit and Address List and hit your street corner, school, church, office break room, business, house party, or transit stop!

At your pop-up, ask people to write messages on the backs and draw pictures on the fronts, or else glue them to picture postcards from your hometown. We used a portable photo printer to personalize them: this Polaroid ZIP one worked like a charm.* One hundred people wrote cards and took photos in just one hour! Print double-sided and select the option to flip on the short edge. (Again, print on card stock.)
3.      Add messages that positively appeal to the electors. Remember: most of the people who voted for Trump probably did it because they want to help the country! It’s a grotesquely perverted result, but also a genuine motivation. Appeal to the electors’ sense of patriotism, responsibility, honor, saviorhood, faith, and duty: save the country, protect me, be an American and stand up for what's right. Ask them to be the hero this story needs. 
This is a Hail Mary play -- i.e., a long shot with the chance to save the world. It's like sending our X-wings against the Death Star: our actions may be small, but we pack enough power to change absolutely everything. The vote is on December 19. Let's get these in the mail!

Start here with us here, and together we’ll keep on transforming fear and anguish into the tools we need to shift the status quo.

- Josh, Anna, Greg, Joe, Ashlie, and millions of Americans

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