Harnessing Outrage?

Much of what has happened since the now infamous day in June, 2015 — when Trump descended the escalator and proceeded to spew his bile all over everyone —  feels very personal to a lot of people.  There are of course the direct connections between the awful rhetoric and individual members of targeted communities – Mexicans, immigrants, Muslims, women, LGBTQ folk, African Americans, Americans with disabilities, etc.  I have felt personally under attack as both a lesbian and a woman.  I know many of you have as well – for the same or different reasons.

But I have also felt deeply hurt – yes, that is the right word, oddly – as an attorney.  Not because I believe my livelihood or my life is at risk because of my profession – and for that I am deeply grateful.  But because the President’s attacks on the judiciary, and the Republicans’ cavalier attitude toward the rule of law threaten institutions that, it turns out, I hold very dear.

I am a patriot.  I believe in democracy,  I believe in separation of powers among the three branches of government, and I believe very strongly in the Constitution as the cornerstone and foundation of American democracy and the protector of individual liberties.  All of that appears now to be both under attack, and in question as an ongoing system of governance.

My wise sister suggested yesterday that our outrage – while necessary as a motivating force – might, if not accompanied by more tempered intentional action, actually undermine our efforts to achieve long term change.  I agree.  I hope we all can keep harnessing our outrage to motivate us to call and write and chant and show up with our bodies sometimes to physically protect those too exhausted and/or terrified to be outraged.  But I challenge myself also to figure out what tempered intentional action I can take to contribute towards what Kim described as a “fundamental shift of the pendulum toward an inclusive and engaged vision for America that builds on its democratic ideals.”

I go back to my musings on critical reflection, and Rachel Maddow’s prescription to find what I’m good at and do that in service to my country.  It turns out that I am pretty good at teaching and writing.  And I’m a lawyer.  How can I use those skills – which happen also to be activities that I really love doing – to contribute to the long term preservation of these institutions that I hold so dear?

I’m noodling on it . . .

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