This is supposed to be a short report from downtown Madison for those who are curious. We're still here. The fight still goes on. There are not thousands of people surrounding the Capitol, they are on bus tours of the state, going door to door, making phone calls. We hope that the recall elections on August 9th go enough our way to slow things down. We hope that more than 50% of the voting population will come out to vote, that those who didn't vote will always vote from now on. We hope that even though people have to wait hours to get their photo ID that they will persist and come to the polls. We will be collecting recall signatures for the Governor as soon as we are able. Anthology has now sold 15,000 buttons since mid-February so, yes button sales have slowed, but not at all ended. More "recall Walker" bumper stickers are appearing around town; we've added some new prints and posters to our collection. And if nothing goes the way we want it to, we will still keep fighting for the ideals of our nation, which are liberty and justice for all. That's the short story.
Being me, I can't just leave it at that. What should I tell you? On the one hand, I feel like I've said everything that I want to say. That I'm tired of talking and feeling sad/mad/bad and just want to look at pretty things on Pinterest. That the signs in our windows, the buttons on the table, my bumper stickers speak for themselves. That surely we're all just talking with the people who agree with us and saying everything that has already been said before. If you feel that way too, perhaps you didn't even bother to open this post.
On the other hand, I am in this for the long haul. For life, as it were. I believe in good and beauty and truth, and I believe in prevailing over greed and inequality. I don't see it as just a Wisconsin thing. And I don't believe in being quiet about it. Clearly there are issues at the national level as well. And I have talked with many out of state tourists who come to Madison to commiserate and show their support, and who are asking nearly the same questions of their governors or legislators. There is much work to be done. Even if all goes the way that I wish it to, there is much work to be done.
And of course, we keep making buttons. Sachi just came up with a new series of pin-up girls, but I was also inspired to make a new Keep Calm print with a series of Wisconsin-specific suggestions. As you can see from the picture, I am pleased with myself. The text is my own; I just did the layout in a word processing program. And, per my own instructions, I had it printed locally. I got a little distracted with political affiliation of printers (man, that list of Walker donors is long!). But then I decided that if I could show someone that there was money to be made from a small business Democrat, perhaps that's not such a bad thing. Also, my new policy is to shop as small as possible. Even if a small businessperson disagrees with your politics, they probably don't have thousands of dollars to spare to donate to the candidate you disagree with.
Although it is fiction, I am right now reading Game of Thrones, which reminds me of the games that people play through all of time, games of money and power, without regard for the lives of other people. In my world though, we are on an arc that brings us to more good, more peace, more justice, more happily ever after for all.
"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, as long as they are left in peace. They never are." George R. Martin
Without our shop, I might be inclined to sit alone and sulk, to be alone in my worry. With our shop, I am forced, on a daily basis, to hold my breath when someone comes through the door or pauses to read our sign. Will they like me? Will they hate my point of view? Can we be civil to each other even if we do disagree? As a shop owner, of course, I am limited somewhat by the bounds of customer service. But I find those can be useful. In fact, I wish we all practiced such bounds. And I know, people say that we are more polarized now than ever before and it seems that n'er the twain shall meet. But if we all just sit in our corners, talk and never listen, complain about how polarized we are, then that, indeed, will be our fate. And I strongly doubt that anything can get done if we are like those two Dr. Seuss Zax, which even a preschooler recognizes is a silly story, not something to model oneself after.
It takes work and energy, but I believe we all need to speak up for the direction we want this world to go in. That said, a critical component is also listening, making space for everyone's voices to be heard. Which, of course, means hearing things you don't like to hear. But then, I'm a big proponent of etiquette and manners and politeness so I'd love it if the dialog could take place with such tones. My resolve is tested often in the course of a week. A customer came in a few days ago and questioned if she could come in the store even though she wasn't a student, faculty, staff or state worker (per our sign which says we depend on aforementioned people). I simply said yes, of course (even though I bristled at the obtuseness of the question). I did have to add that, technically, aren't we all students of one sort or another... and then my sister came out of the office to make sure I didn't go any further than that. I realize that some people see our signs and resolve not to buy anything in the store. I'm sorry for that, I'm sorry that they dismiss the creative things that I've gathered, the work of the many local artists. And because of that sorrow, I try to work harder myself not to dismiss someone just because we disagree politically. I still have good things to offer a Republican. But those that walk in, complain about my signs, and then walk out, are only proving to me that they are not my customer and therefore don't give me much incentive. Meanwhile, I'm getting lots of positive reinforcement for my signs. It isn't just about money, but certainly, as a business, the loudness of our voice would depend a bit on how our customers reacted. So far, they are just telling me to speak louder. So, yeah, I'm still going.
And I know, we all have our anger and our sorrow and our pain. A guy drove by me a few days ago and yelled "a**hole" out his window at me. Was it because of my bumper stickers? Was it because I unknowingly cut him off? I have no idea why. I linger a bit too long on the encounter, but am mostly left with a feeling of sorrow. What kind of life is it when we have so much anger and violence in our interactions with each other? When an unwitting mistake or a simple point of view causes us to completely write off the other person? We have so much to offer each other.
So, all I can really say is that I hope everyone is still going. Still being true to your own self and to your hopes and dreams, but also being true to the voice of our country, which, I believe, is supposed to be about liberty and justice for all.
P.S. I also commissioned this print for the shop. I probably have to uncover it three or four times a day - obviosuly some silent objectors can't walk by it without hiding it.