As people do around this time of year, I’ve been thinking about the coming year, what I want to work on, what’s on the schedule, what I hope for, and so on. I like the idea of a theme rather than resolutions, and as I was thinking over possible themes, one popped into my head. I wanted to resist it, to consider other themes, to find one I really liked and wanted to work with, but this one wouldn’t go away. I don’t especially care for this one, but it’s insisting that it is my theme for the year, will-I nill-I:


There are changes I hope for (selling the house that is wrong for us and moving to something that suits us better), and changes I fear, both specifically (friends retiring and no longer being part of my campus life) and more generally (political changes for the worse). Who knows what else may come, either in the train of known changes, according to the Law of Unintended Consequences, or just as part of life. I suppose it is some help to have notice, from my unconscious or the zeitgeist, that change will be coming. Maybe I can surf that wave rather than being pulled down by it.

And it has begun already. Not only did I spend the New Year in a place new to me, but this morning I placed a telephone call to my House representative, about the changes to rules proposed for the 2017 session. My representative is as blue as they come, so at first I thought (as I have been thinking), “Why bother?” and then I decided that I could at least express my enthusiastic support for his vote against weakening ethics oversight. I spoke to a human being, and said my piece. I hate telephone calls, but more will be necessary in the years to come, and practice will no doubt make them easier. I can’t remember the last time I contacted any elected official, and I am certain that the last time I did, it was in writing rather than by phone. But the vote is supposed to happen today, so I phoned.

Yay? And yet I so much wish that this were not necessary. As I move into this strange new world created by 11/9, I want to remember that my core values, the ideas that really matter to me, have to do with learning, education, the life of the mind. Yes, one needs certain conditions in order to have those things, and one must act to create those conditions. At the same time, strength of various kinds—personal, cultural, political—comes out of a focus on education, on thoughtfulness, on informed communication. I will continue to stand for these ideals, whatever changes come to pass.

2 thoughts on “I fear change . . . and yet . . .

  1. That’s awesome!

    Today my DH made his phone calls and was shaken up by them (especially the rep call– first the person denied there were any votes and DH pointed out there had been two and our rep was on record in the news as being for in the first vote so he got transferred to a more senior aide who gave him lots of BS talking points), but he says he makes the calls because they’re the right thing to do (and not because I want him to do them).

    If you’re not signed up for one of the weekly mailing lists with suggested actions, there are links to a few of them under our “activism” page. I mostly do the ones on Actions for Americans, but I also like Wall of Us. DH told me if he wasn’t subscribing to one of these weekly lists he probably wouldn’t be making any calls, but the lists lower the barrier enough that he can.

  2. Nietzsche wrote in Twilight of the Idols that (paraphrase) liberals should never be in government because they have so much more efficacy when fighting against the governing party. When they are actually running the government, they are quickly run out for being “too weak.” I laughed when I read that. It’s like he predicted the Obama midterm elections when the GOP took over, and then, the Trump election.

    The problem with President Obama (whom I voted for twice, and whom I’d vote for again. I love that man.) is that he was the right president at the wrong time. If the world were peaceful and people were working together, he would have been the most important president since Thomas Jefferson. And yet, there are so many terrible, violent things happening in the world, and he is not seen as strong on any of those things. Yes, he oversaw the killing of Bin Laden, but then, he backed off on Syria’s use of chemical weapons against its people. Which is the more important issue? Bin Laden was symbolic, but his death hasn’t changed anything of note. There are still terrorists in the world — plenty of them. And the war in Syria (and the refugee crisis) drags on. (Note – I don’t want to go to war in Syria, but I also know that you can’t use “red line” rhetoric and then do nothing substantive.)

    TLDR, sorry. But Nietzsche, weirdly, gives me hope that all is not lost — that people will start being less complacent and respond to the call to arms against injustice. We liberals can be pretty effective when we’re fighting for a cause.

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