I've been thinking a bit about God lately, spurred by two FB/email conversations with people who were coming to situations from different perspectives. They are both friends so I believe in their commitment and dedication, know their underlying goodness, but the interactions didn't really settle much for my own personal journey. I mean, I believe in some underlying truth/love/beauty/goodness and I do consider that divine. But there's a pervasive idea that involves God and merit that I'm having some trouble with of late; namely the implication that if you just pray enough or believe enough than you will be rewarded materially, or with good health, or whatever. Or, conversely, that this world is sinning so much that God has brought punishment down upon us. If I follow that backwards, then somehow it ends up that the suffering of a child in a cold refugee camp or in a lifeboat in the middle of the Mediterranean is somehow earned and I just can't square that with my idea of God. That idea that God has already done the judging and the doling out of punishment and that if your life station isn't that great, then it must be through some combination of your own doing and God's, without the context of, oh, say, generations of institutional racism or sexism, or decades of greed and power-grabbing by nations. In one instance, a lengthy discussion about whether politicians, namely Paul Ryan, are given their power through God and/or are doing God's work - which, obviously I completely disagree with, included multiple citations of passages from the Bible, which, I suddenly realized, don't really work on me, seeing as people seem to be able to apply them to whichever side of the argument they are trying to win. How do you resolve one person's understanding which they think is complete, with another's, which seems equally complete and well-thought-out and yet totally opposite? Well, I didn't mention that lack of effectiveness of Bible passages, for one thing. We basically had to agree to disagree about Paul Ryan. In the other instance, a family dealing with severe health issues which has led to a deepening of relationship with God. Now, particularly in hindsight, I can say that times of struggle for me opened doors to times love/beauty/goodness - so, again, I'm not saying that there is no God, just that I have a hard time for all of us with relative prosperity to make statements about the blessings of God, without there being some sense of self-satisfaction/congratulation. All that said, what came out of these discussions is my renewed commitment to what I do feel Jesus calls us to, and to the work of bringing forth love/beauty/goodness/truth.
So now we come to the week before inauguration. Blech. It's hard not to feel overwhelmed. I am, as usual, keeping myself busy and not totally facing up to the reality of Donald Trump. I just had to turn off the nightly news. I am quite sure that Obama was not featured on the news every single night of his presidency but the trend so far is not looking good for the incoming administration. I am keeping busy with the work and action that is Anthology's usual. I.e. buttons. lots of buttons. Plus our inauguration weekend window, which, if I do say so myself, came together pretty well considering all the protest that had to be done, and mostly in the form of animal puns. Will post that later. I did meet with our accountant and dealt with part one of tax prep, which included sending out various forms. She told me a dear conservative Christian friend of hers told her that the Donald Trump administration meant that the Devil was in the White House. So, we've got our work cut out for us. But what wonderful postage stamps Sachi got! I feel like we should buy these Wonder Women by the hundreds and send them with all our mail for the next four years. We all need to channel our superpowers.
To some extent, I see Anthology's role as one of support staff. Certainly during the 2011 protests, I was so thankful to be able to create a space where people could connect, could laugh and chat over the button table, could remind themselves that they are not alone. And that continues. We were laughing a little with a woman who came in last week who suddenly needed buttons that were Wisconsin-themed so she could represent in D.C. I went home that night and designed some new buttons, and Emily just sent me a few more files. Oh, also, we are expecting our copies of the Resist publication which is a great collection of mostly women's graphic art in reaction to the Trump presidency. We've seen a sneak peek and it's quite an amazing collection. That publication is free but we'll be collecting donations for Planned Parenthood over the coming weeks. Actually, this does remind me of the 2011 protests in one other respect: we had such an outpouring of support from our customers, such a big spike in button sales, that we were able to donate significantly larger sums to the various local youth arts organizations that we support. The ongoing button sales post-election mean we will be able to do similarly this year so there's something good coming from the incoming administration. There is a bit of a last-minute push to make sure everyone has their accessories. We are thrilled by the number of Anthology buttons that are making their way to marches around the country, including a customer who will be traveling on the day and thus marching in the airport.
Which brings me to Phoenix. Sachi and I have planned for a few months now to attend the craft and hobby trade show, which moved from California to Phoenix. It has been a few years since we've attended and we thought it would be good for the store, and us, to see what's new in the craft realm. Obviously I am hoping to find more washi tape. And bring home new products and projects. As it turns out, the trade show is this coming weekend, the weekend of the Women's March. Now, we were never planning to go to D.C., but of course we had expectations that we would be just two blocks from the State Capitol of Wisconsin, able to pop out from work and do a few laps around the Square, or just be present in solidarity as our customers walk by (and walk in for buttons). And then I really paid attention to the calendar. Now I had some reservations: first, when I googled "anti-inauguration Phoenix" what came up was a Libertarian party. And I know that we wouldn't fit in there. I like the things our taxes pay for. But, of course, I had type in the right search terms. So I figured out that yes, there is a sister march in Phoenix. My other reservations: 1. we are there for work and 2. what if I get arrested out of state? I have started to prepare myself for the idea of being arrested, but I was still thinking it would happen in Madison which is within the comfort of who my one phone call would be (though, really, should one call one's parents at my age? Perhaps I should think about a different one phone call). The first reservation was dealt with easily enough. Given the larger work that is my calling and that is Anthology, especially as it relates to what is mostly women's work of creativity which is usually undervalued and underpaid, standing up in the Women's March is clearly a part of the work. We had already decided the day was going to involve non-trade show work, which is still, just to be clear, a part of business travel: seeing stores that other people have, maybe even doing a little product scouting. So, the schedule is worked out. The arrest part? well, I've gotten advice to write legal aid's phone number in sharpie on my arm. Not that I'm planning on doing anything that merits arrest. I would feel a little more certain if I were in Madison since we've had the trial run of the 2011 protests. But this seems like the kind of thing that Jesus would be encouraging people to do, to leave their comfort and privilege and stand with and for others.
Anyway, the upshot is that even though we've been thinking about this for a few months, and even though I usually consider my role more of support staff, it was really only yesterday that I cemented our plans. Within 20 minutes of doing so, I had created a long list of tasks. As more active participants in a march who won't have a store two blocks away to run back to, what do I need to have? What sign should I bring?I think I'm going with my She Is print. I think it will fit flat in my suitcase but if I have to roll it, I will. Then what about buttons? Do you think TSA will confiscate buttons if I have too many? I was starting to think about a sash like the Girl Scouts/suffragettes but with buttons on it. But if they are going to confiscate it.... Maybe just bring along a stamped padded envelope so I could mail it home if I have to.
And after all of this posting about knitting, ack! do I need a pussy hat? I don't really know how to knit that well. I was kind of feeling jealous of everyone with their hats but feeling that I hadn't really earned one if I wasn't marching. But before I could feel too sorry for myself or get too stressed out about adding another task to my list, a dear person offered to deliver two hats: one for me and one for Sachi, with our initials on them!
And I know that some people will say that is luck, but I'm inclined to side with Mother who would call it synchronicity and the evidence of of some underlying connection/truth/beauty/love which IS divine. Even if you think it is frivolous to find the divine in a pussy hat.
And, with that, I think we are ready for Phoenix! Ha, no, of course that's not true. I am sure that I will add more things to the list. Not only preparing for Phoenix, but making sure the store is ready for the weekend, and that we gird ourselves for the work that lies beyond the weekend. But there will be love/connection/truth/beauty, of that I am sure.