Saturday was Yom Kippur. I am not an observant Jew – grandchild of Russian Jewish immigrants, yes, but raised in a highly assimilated and non-religious New York family. But this time of year coinciding as it does with the turning of leaves and the shortening of days always grounds me in the spiritual underpinnings of the work of Resistance.
My favorite Resistance Rabbi – Michael Adam Latz – described the Day of Atonement this year as a day of “Open broken hearted souls joining together in song and prayer, in tears and in repentance, in the work of forgiveness and the work of breathing a new world into being.” He prayed that the day of reflection “take you soaring to new spiritual heights, your engagement with t’shuvah [repentance] turn your lives in a more holy direction, your forgiveness flow like a mighty stream, your commitment to justice and human dignity consume your waking hours.” https://www.facebook.com/michaeladamlatz.
I first started this blog as a way to keep breathing in the early months of the Trump administration. It helped, as I joined other anxious white women like Rebecca Solnit (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/08/t-magazine/entertainment/rebecca-solnit-writer-resistance.html?_r=1) and Amy Siskind (https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-46-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-e23a6920c44b) and Jennifer Hofmann (https://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/) who are determined that this not become a normal, if slightly worse, bad Republican administration. We keep track, we monitor, we call out, we center, all in the name of #Resistance – to Trump and all he has ushered in.
But as the months wore on and it looked like we were not going to get a do-over or early impeachment, as the Republican leadership seemed determined to stand by their man, I realized I needed to pace myself. And to remind myself of the real work of #Resistance. This isn’t a tennis game, or a brilliant, if not quite believable, spy novel. This is the country that I live in, a country that has been riven by strife and cruelty and selfishness since its founding.
Rabbi Latz is not the only spiritual leader to remind us why we do this work. No. It is, after all, “the real work of Christmas” https://www.uua.org/worship/words/affirmation/now-work-christmas-begins
“to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.”
And it is the work of my Buddhist chaplain sister, Kim Moore, as she brings her practice to men and women in the cells of San Quentin and Soledad prisons. Over 500 prisoners have participated in an intensive year-long training in mindfulness, emotional intelligence and understanding violence, its roots, and its victim impact. http://www.insight-out.org/. In response to the work Kim and her colleagues are doing, one of the prisoners said, “You are speaking to us as if we were human beings again. No one has come in here and addressed us like that before.”
I will write more about last week’s class on gender and Philando Castile and how as critical lawyers and resisters we have to keep keeping, monitoring, calling out and centering, in the name of #Resistance. For today, though, it seemed important to remember why we choose every day to put our race, gender, class, privilege goggles on and force ourselves to look through them at the jagged shards of misery all around us. For me, while I am inspired by the words of the Bible and the teachings of Buddhism, I find the comfort and strength to keep at it from the actions and words of our living prophets – of all faiths and traditions. My fellow resisters, I count you among those prophets and thank you for walking this path with me.