Darlene Leong Neal, a friend of a couple friends, posted the following on Facebook as she was considering whether or not to attend a candlelight vigil for The Women’s March on Washington that’s planned for January 21, 2017. Her thoughts reflect what I believe most of us go through as we consider whether to not only choose one battle over another, but to then actively participate in the ensuing actions of that battle.
“Should I Go To Candlelight Vigil, or is it a waste of time? Thinking…
We will most likely not be able to influence or stop our electors from rewarding this undeserving, many many people would say deplorable, man with the Presidency. So what is the point of a Candlelight Vigil? This is a type of action that seems to not have a point, meaning, it is not results oriented as We Are Not Going to Stop Them. They will have to stop themselves. Of course. So why bother standing in the cold like a chorus of The Little Match Girl?
We could put our energy into an organizing meeting! Or conduct legislative research! Or finish that spreadsheet! Or return those five very important calls! We could do the laundry! “I need to finish my shopping!” We say as if we actually intend to STOP SHOPPING, while simultaneously and strategically planning our after Christmas shopping.
Point is, a lot of people’s worlds are in crisis and we are all so busy. Especially during this Most Special Time of the Year. I hear that a lot, “This time of year is just so busy.” As if during a less special time of the year, we would consent to stand in the cold with very little chance of having any effect on the process or outcome.
We’ve joked lately about being jaded and cynical. Knowing that it’s not a joke at all, it’s one if the saddest facts we know about ourselves. This election cycle was an earthquake and now we wait and prepare for the tsunami. Although there is no force of nature at work here. Just people.
We remain in deep and complicated mourning. Back in the day, the dead were often laid out in the home before burial. Covering the mirrors, lighting candles we would sit with our dead, bearing witness to their passing. This was generally the work of women. We bear witness to the unspeakably beautiful, too: the birth of a child, or grandchild. This is also the work of women. Of course, it’s not just women who are called and compelled to bear witness.
Candlelight Vigils call us into public space to participate in a social sacrament of bearing witness. Bearing witness is like bearing any burden, it’s heavy. It’s especially heavy for those who live in and near Nashville as you often hold ground for people all across the State who cannot be at the Capitol. Thank you for that.
This vigil asks us to bear witness to the passing away of any pretense to moral authority by our TN elected officials and State Electors. We are asked to bear witness to the imminent threats to fundamental human rights their votes will promulgate. This is a harsh reality. We do not bear witness by watching a news report, alone in our homes. We bear witness together in public space because these are our streets, our communities, our lives. When we come together we build power to protect our rights, and solidarity to resist and defy efforts to destroy the social progress of decades.
OK. Done thinking and yes, I will be at the vigil. Question answered. “