We're still mad at the Governor of our state. I just don't want you to think that because I've been silent on the matter that I've forgotten it. 900,000 signatures were collected (540,000 were needed) so we will be going back to the polls. He continues on a path which runs counter to all that I hold dear about my state and my country, to reward campaign donors at cost to public well-being on many levels, oh, and he's a liar. Really, I don't call people names that often, but I do not trust Scott Walker. I think he is unChristian, lacks caring and empathy, and I think that his idea of balancing the budget is really an elaborate shell game to move taxpayer money out of the light (and out of transparent accountability) and into the bank accounts of a few people. So, yes, we will continue the work to recall him. Whatever the outcome, the work will be ongoing, but I sure would like 1. more than 25% of Wisconsin voters to determine the path of the state (that's how many people voted for him) and 2. for more than 50% of votes cast to agree with me that other people are more fit to govern the state.
The primary election is in May, the general election is in June. If you live in Wisconsin, please please learn about the candidates and get yourself to the polls! I understand that some people think they don't have a voice and that voting is.. I don't know....pointless? But I think not voting is to completely give in and give over to forces which might seem greater than can be defeated by a vote but which will certainly not be defeated if you never use your voice. Also, not voting is totally unacceptable in the democracy that we are supposed to have. So, vote, wouldja?!
We are still selling buttons - at last count, we've sold 22, 795 since February 2011. That is a lot of buttons! And a lot of conversation and commiseration, and a little bit of holding my tongue.
I had a labor history teacher from Chicago come into the shop last weekend; he told me that history is on our side. Gosh, I sure hope so. I'm looking forward to a time when we can look backwards on all of this. In the meantime, I mostly hope that we can all continue to communicate and connect, to remember the very deep and intrinsic value of everyone, and to respect and uphold their rights. I think the biggest thing I got from the protests of early last year and everything that came from that, is a keen sense of connection and interdependence. Even though we speak of "taxpayer" "state worker" "politician" "businessman," I'm not really sure that we are gaining anything from being so vehement about our independence. I'm not sure there is any independence. As a small business person, I like to think that I'm making independent decisions and choosing a career where my only boss is myself and my sister, but I won't have much of a business if I don't have customers. In so many ways, we are all connected, and I don't think we will really get anywhere if we keep buying into the divisiveness and partisanship (though sometimes I can't help myself, see below).
So, that's where we are. We get a lot of out-of-staters in to the shop so it seems like we've been answering a lot of questions. In some ways it feels like so many peoples' hopes are resting on the outcome in Wisconsin; in other ways, it only registers faintly when they are in the midst of their own daily lives and dramas of their own states. Seems like simliar events are occurring all over, ones that I hope we can meet with our own strengths and resolve to address the changes that are taking place in the world, the new people and places and connections, the necessities of living smaller in a world that is strained to bursting...
Which actually brings me to Easter.
The shop was closed on Easter Sunday and I attended the church I have been attending since I was a child. The congregation is the Community of Hope, a United Church of Christ congregation on Madison's West side. (I mention the UCC component because an article in the New York Times portrayed Obama's membership in a UCC church as fringe, which I find somewhat offensive. Yes, we are a small denomiation, but we believe in gay marriage and in the rights and values of ALL people, men and women. SO I don't really think that our beliefs should be considered "fringe."). Our wonderful Pastor Tisha had us pick up stones as we entered - so there we all sat, holding our stones (as a geology student, I have great fondness for stones, and enjoyed the feel in my hand), and then she made us bring them up, and exchange them for flowers. The idea was to emulate the women approaching Jesus' tomb - knowing the stone was there, not knowing how they were going to deal with it, but going nonetheless, and then finding the stone rolled away! So, too, we thought about what were the stones in our life, the things that we weighing us down, holding us back, preventing us from going in the direction we wanted, and what we would we do if they were suddenly rolled away? Then we carried those stones up to the altar, and swapped them for flowers, for the promise of Easter and spring and blooming and growing. And then I went home, and all I could think about for the rest of the day was how could I end up with THAT notion of Easter, and my ideas of love and justice, from the same religion that has generated so much hatred and judgment. It's really a puzzle, and a sorrow, to me.
I was also thinking about this quotation from the movie "Chocolat," one of my favorites, and also one that embodies what I consider Christian:
"I'm not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be. Do I want to speak of the miracle of Our Lord's divine transformation? Not really, no. I don't want to talk about His divinity. I'd rather talk about His humanity. I mean, you know, how He lived His life, here on Earth. His *kindness*, His *tolerance*. Listen, here's what I think. I think that we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we've got to measure goodness by what we *embrace*, what we create and who we include." Père Henri
Which then brings me to national politics. WHAT is going on?! I don't think it is an exaggeration to call this a "war on women." But I'm also not sure it is the benefit of anyone except a very few. I think most 2-income households would LIKE it if there was wage equity; I think women are capable of deciding for themselves when/if they should have babies and doing/deciding what needs to be done; I think that two people in a loving adult relationship should be able to be married whether they are a man and a woman, a man and a man, or a woman and a woman; and I think that NOT talking about sex is not the way to avoid unplanned teenage pregnancies and that if you really want to avoid abortions, you should be a little more supportive of contraception. Should I go on? I know, there's a bit of a tirade element but I found a rubber stamp in one of our catalogs that's pretty much perfect: "I myself have never known what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat." Rebecca West
In truth, my objections to the action of the Governor are similar to my objections to the actions of the Republican Party on a national scale. I was under the impression that they are the party of small government, but that seems to be only in certain areas - no regulations on corporations, but, yes, by all means, regulate what goes on in the bedroom between consenting adults.
Honestly, their actions seem based on greed for money and power, and an unwillingness to deal with the changes occurring in the world. And, I know, I'm not practicing what I preach about connection and communication and trying to understand, but, I'm just totally bewildered, kind of sorrowful too, because there seems to be so much hatred and misinformation and distrust. I don't know what to do about that exactly. Usually I just try to focus on the happy things.
Like the crafty way that people have responded to various political and social issues. Have you heard about the knitted uter...ii? being sent to Republican politicians? LOVE.
Like getting to cast a vote for Obama. The Wisconsin primary was last week, and I must say it was a thrill to mark that line. I know there are people who were hoping he would get more done in the first term; maybe they are disappointed about the difference between campaign speech and the limits of our system of checks and balances. I still shudder to think what things would be like if McCain-Palin were in the White House. And I also read a 2007 Vanity Fair article about the decades it will take to recover from Bush's reign. And Mitt?! Please. I've learned that Democrats are just as beholden to lobbyists and big-money spenders (that's a whole 'nother post, but, seriously, we need campaign finance reform), but there is not no difference between Obama and Mitt. So, while we're still on the fence about the candidates for Governor, we know who we're voting for in November!
And in the meantime, here's to hoping for spring and blooming and rolling away the impediments to a just and happy life.