February/March ’18 Newsletter

We are the Most and Least of Our History

by Olwen Skogerson

We have, all of us, acted from a place of which we are not proud.  Some are moments, some are periods of time for which there maybe explanations, but in the end, they left us in the desert of our own weakest and ugliest parts, owing apologies.  Sometimes, it is a single individual who reduces us to our base nature.  We may dress up our fears in the fur of excuse or adorn our responses with the jewels of self-justification, but when we act from a foundation of fear, the result is a diminishment.  We are lessened by the consequences of acts made based in weakness and the unlucky recipient of our acts, or our words, is often forced to bear the weight of our failures.

These moments, however long and deep they are, do not equal the sum or complete measure of who we are. They do, however, belong to us. Those moments of our worst selves are part of us, through memory and through affect.  They don’t define us, but they are a part of that which we use to make our definitions.

We always have the moment to moment choice to cultivate what is best in our character. The qualities and attributes that come from our highest sense of self; our strengths that build us up and contribute to those around us.  Those moments we can carry with pride and satisfaction that when called upon, or squeezed, we chose what was good in ourselves as our motivating force; from the best of who we are.

As we go, you and I, red and blue so goes this glorious democratic experiment.

America is full-spectrum, because the country is us.  We are she, each and every single one of us is America.  She is not a separate experience or a distant reality.  And, America has some very very weak and ugly qualities.  We arrived on these shores driven by needs, looking for sanctuary and possibility and we found them.  But while we built our bright futures, we systematically dismantled 1st Nation Peoples’ lives, destroyed their cultures, and denied our fellow human beings their freedoms and their dignity.  We used slaves to build the foundations of the great society.   We encoded oppressive and racist language into a constitution which claims that all people are created equal, to preserve the power of the oppressor at the expense of the oppressed.  The history of America may stretch back over 240 years, but it has a weight that is threaded through the daily lives of every single American.

To be uncomfortable in the presence of our failures of character is good.  That moment of rage on the road, childhood bullying, loss of patience with a loved one, that intemperate tweet.  Those all originate in the least of who we are; they are wholly our moments–and then we have a choice.  We can continue in violence, oppression or intemperance or root out the ‘why’ of the act, and address what is weak in ourselves and how we identify, or how we see others.

To be uncomfortable in the face of our collective American history is a necessity. It is in that unsettled space we make our changes.  The cracks and holes of discontent allow the weaknesses of our nation to be seen. The ideals we claim to honor can be brought to bear in solutions which encompass those who needs are greatest.

There are infinite ways to express patriotism which don’t require a uniform and weapons.

Loyalty, fidelity, and honor to the founding ideals of Equality, Liberty, Justice and Freedom of Speech and the fight to defend them against all aggression both foreign and domestic happens in this country-daily by her citizens, by us.

When we demand the universal application with out condition of those ideals to ourselves or on behalf of another, we are patriots.

When we are willing to see in our own benefits, another’s payments and we are moved to dismantle unearned privilege, we are serving our country.

When we show up to dangerous spaces because we have ‘the choice’ of fighting for rights while others do not, we are committing to the best of who we are.

When we vote and when we run for office, to serve the public good.

Our history cannot be undone.  It can be used to build or destroy.  What we choose for ourselves today, as individuals, as citizens, becomes the weight our great-grandchildren will carry.

The continuous push toward the universal and unconditional application of Liberty, Equality, Justice and Freedom of Speech will, by their very natures, cause disruptions.  These ideals are the anathematic forces to the limitation of oppression, inequality, injustice, and the silencing of dissent.

To be a patriot is to choose the side that removes from history, the weight of our weakest selves and hands to our great-grandchildren– no burdens at all.

Feb/March Member Appreciation

Nicole Silva

1) I got involved with SCI because I was completely blindsided by this election. I realized that I had been a spectator in our political process. I never thought the election would turn out the way that it did and I had taken for granted that it would turn out the way I imagined. After utter disbelief, on election night, I immediately felt guilty for not doing everything I could to prevent how our election turned out. I knew I had to take action and be the change I wanted to see and realized that there was a lot of work to do. The Obama administration had lulled me into thinking everything was going in the right direction, so I was complacent. This election threw everything in my world upside down and I knew I had to fight as hard as I could to continue the progress I felt we had made in the last few years.
2) It is hard to narrow down the issues I am passionate about as I feel like there are so many I need to support at this moment. If I had to narrow it down to two, I would say Women’s Rights and Education are the most near and dear to my heart. I feel like the success of these two entities, women and education, are the foundation and bedrock of any successful society. I want women to have access to every opportunity afforded anyone else, whether it be quality education, jobs, equal pay, and equal rights.. A society can only be successful if it values and supports the equality of 50% of their population. The other issue I feel ties directly into a successful society is education. As a teacher, I feel that the strength and health of a nation is dependent on the quality of the education it affords its children. I wish politicians would talk about education like they talk about jobs. When our society wants our economy to grow, it is education they should be focused on (talking about jobs is putting the cart before the horse). Financially supporting our education system and demanding a good education should be at the top of the priority list of every American.
3) If I had 30 seconds with my representative, I would first thank them for the tireless work they have been doing for the last year. I feel fortunate that the representatives that are here have been fighting the battles I have voted them in for. The most pressing local issue that I would want them to work for is to continue to fight our our environment. We are being threatened left and right with the proposal of oil drilling off our coast, the decrease in National monuments and public lands, and the Trump administration withdrawing us from the Paris Climate agreement. These rollbacks will have catastrophic effects for generations to come. I want them to fight as hard as they can to protect this beautiful California and be the leaders through this attack on our future. I believe our legislators can lead the rest of the country and continue to abide by the Paris Climate agreements as well as be the leaders in green technology. We can grow jobs, infrastructure, protect our environment and our children for generations to come. If our local representatives can do that, they will leave a lasting legacy generations will benefit from.