Naked Athena — Splendor or Spectacle

Taking a break from the news over the weekend, I had not paid attention to the emergence of Naked Athena until I heard NPR’s Michel Martin talk with Portland NAACP President E. D. Mondainé about ongoing protests taking place there.  Martin begins saying:

“Let me just go to the piece that you wrote. It’s gently worded, but it’s very tough in its message. You said that I don’t believe it’s a time for spectacle; unfortunately, spectacle is now the best way to describe Portland’s protests. Vandalizing government buildings and hurling projectiles at law enforcement draw attention. But how do these actions stop police from killing Black people? Was there a particular moment in the course of all this that made you feel this way? I mean, in your piece, you speak about the woman who’s being described as Naked Athena…”

NPR’s Michel Martin — Portland NAACP President On Protests As A ‘White Spectacle’

Reality is Messy & There is Never One Simple Narrative to Explain It, Ever

Naked Athena — Portland, OR

I had to see Naked Athena in Portland, OR. When I found her, I did not see spectacle. I saw splendor. For centuries, women have live under lopsided male-centered, patriarchal cultural bondage. It goes on today taking many forms, but the core impulse is to control women and deny them their rights as a human being–often cruelly and violently. The same weekend as Naked Athena made her appearance in Portland, teenage girls were harassed and spit on by the Moral Police in Iran. I heard this report on the BBC and found it written up in UK The Daily Mail.

“An Iranian undercover morality agent spat at teenage girls and asked them ‘where’s your dirty owner?’ after seeing them without a hijab. In a shocking video, which has been circulating on social media, a man stops his car and gets out before hurling abuse at the youngsters.”

Undercover morality agent SPITS at teenage girls, asks ‘where’s your owner?’ and says ‘I’ll f*** your mother’ after seeing them without hijab in Iran

You think these two events are unrelated?

Think again. Reality is never as simple as we would like it to be as human beings. It never has been, nor will it ever be. But our propensity as a species to simplify reality is tremendous. It always has been, and probably always will be.

In times long past, humans used myth, folklore, and magical tales to explain complicated, perplexing, and frightening things that confronted them and challenged their survival. In my last blog, The Beautiful Gift of Outrage, I give an example of old Scottish folklore about fairies that swap out a healthy human baby and replace it with a changeling to explain why a new born infant would fail to thrive. They did not know modern medicine. They did not understand that their newborn baby was sick and needed care, not to be left out on a fairy hill to see if the fairies would bring the real child back to them. But our species has created many stories that now days sound strange and outlandish to explain the unexplainable.

And, we are still doing it today.


Untied States of Conspiracy

Frontline is airing an episode tonight titled: The United States of Conspiracy. Also, Fareed Zakaria aired a special on CNN about Conspiracy Theories; Mondaire Jones; Hillary 2016 Communications Director; Your Anecdotal Census; and Protesting During a Pandemic. Both of these episdoes explore the deep roots of misinformation entering into American culture, politics, and the rise of Trump who has long purported kooky conspiracy theories, such as the birther theory hurtled against President Barack Obama. Trump used this cockeyed theory to launch his political career (or more aptly to launch his political farce and mockery of democracy). Zakaria covers all the conspiracy theories of the past 50 years, including one of the most recent to emerge: QAnon, which is a far-right conspiracy theory detailing a supposed secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters. Zakaria makes the connection between believing in fairies and fairytales in times past to believing in whimsical, outlandish, bizarre conspiracy theories today. Doing so, provide simple, linear explanations to reality, especially to people who feel like they are losing control of their lives or their values or their culture.

From the Frontline report , a write up says:

“The United States of Conspiracy includes a striking sequence that illustrates how Trump adopted Jones’ claims — voicing them publicly in a way that shocked even InfoWars staffers as he ran for the highest office in the land.”

Alex Jones and Donald Trump: How the Candidate Echoed the Conspiracy Theorist on the Campaign Trail

It further states:

As 2015 drew to a close, then-candidate Donald Trump made an appearance that was unprecedented in the history of modern presidential campaigns.

It was on InfoWars, the hard-right outlet run by extremist conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a trafficker in false information who had exploited national tragedies from 9/11 to Newtown. And it was brokered by Trump’s longtime associate Roger Stone, a frequent InfoWars guest, in a bid to win over Jones’ millions of viewers.

A new FRONTLINE documentary traces how the alliance between Jones and Trump, facilitated by Stone, would help to bring conspiracy theorist thought into the political mainstream — ushering in the current era, in which misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic has spread like the virus itself.

Alex Jones and Donald Trump: How the Candidate Echoed the Conspiracy Theorist on the Campaign Trail

So, What Does This Have to Do with Naked Athena

Everything. The spectacle is Trump and the rise of modern myths and fairytales that millions of people believe–stories that are just as strange and farfetched as fairies and changelings. Trump is taking advantage of this human fallibility to win. He got away with it in 2016, but reality is catching up with him. The Coronavirus refuses to comply to his fairytale, and his complete and utter failure to deal with it is causing him to lose in the polls. Of course, he is losing in the polls because of this. We are nearing 150,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. Meanwhile, many European and Asian countries have successfully gotten the novel virus under control so they can reopen their economies safely and mark COVID deaths in the hundreds… not the hundreds of thousands. But, not us.

What exactly does 150,000 deaths looks like? What if all these deaths were concentrated in one geographic location? What would it look like?

It would be like losing McAllen, Mesquite, and Killeen, Tex.; Dayton, Ohio; Fullerton, Orange, Valencia, Torrance, Pomona, and Pasadena, Calif.; Syracuse, Borough Park, Astoria, and East Hampton, N.Y.; Savannah, Ga.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Naperville, Rockford, and Joliet, Ill.; Paterson, N.J.; Clarksville, Tenn.; Hollywood, Fla.; Kansas City, Kan.; Alexandria, Va.; or Springfield, Mass. Eric A. Gordon captures this for us to imagine in a compelling article titled: 150,000 dead of coronavirus in U.S.: What monument will they have?

So Trump needs a distraction. He needs his loyal believers of his fairy tale about reality to not look at the real spectacle of this moment–his utter lack of interest and ability to deal with reality–but to believe that America is falling into the clutches of the fatal-thinking, wacky left wing democrats. So, what does he do? He co-opts the beautiful, genuine cascade of Black Lives Matter protests and marches that are sweeping across the country, and across the world, after the brutal murder of George Floyd by a white police officer who believed he could get away with murder. Well, he didn’t. Here is a map a professor created of all the protests around the world evoked by George Floyd’s death.

Black Lives Matter Protests 2020 — To date, 4,352 cities or towns world wide have protested since May 25, 2020

This is the battle Trump is fighting. He is turning a long overdo moral accounting of White Privilege into an urban war to scare the hell out of his core supporters. He and his collaborators (like Barr) are not interested in saving or protecting human lives. If so, Trump would be sending PPE and swabs to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, clinics in the 70% of the country he said not to look at when he was telling America how well we were doing in combating the coronavirus. He would be much more concerned with human life (black, brown, elderly, and everyone else) rather than abusing his power as President of the United States of America to protect a building in Portland. In the same insane compulsion to win the 2020 election, Trump is systematically and cruelly undermining all the hope and promise that the Black Lives Movement is bringing into the light of day. This means coming to terms and reckoning with everything this country has done to black and brown people–slavery, Jim Crow laws, Redlining, endemic impoverishment of black and brown people due to racism and structural inequalities putting white people first, and police brutality.

This is Trump’s War. He is making sure these changes don’t happen on his watch and that’s why his supporters need to reelect him in 2020, but what he keeps hidden to himself is that he doesn’t have an ounce of empathy for his supporters. He does not care what happens to them after he is elected. He is demonstrating this right now in more outlandish ideas about miracle cures for COVID-19 citing a doctor (just yesterday) who talks about demon sperm. He just wants to serve himself to more helpings of greed and gluttony for another four years.

This is a video I made of the Black Lives Matter protests that also surged and grew in DC after Trump violently cleared Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020 for a photo opt (with Barr overseeing this launching of violent counteroffensive manuvers to get law and order video footage to re-elect Trump)
If you happened to missed the news on Demon Sperm, Trevor Noah does a really good job summarizing where America is at right now… and he has a fantastic fundraiser going on right now: The Bail Project works to prevent incarceration and to fight racial and economic disparities in the bail system. Check him out… he understands what’s going on without resorting to simplifying reality.

Wag the Dog

Most U.S. Presidents who have gotten in trouble just before their second term are fabled to begin a war to keep in power. Trump’s war is with Americans. He is sending in federal troops (many contracted military units not trained to deal with lawful protesters) to stir up trouble precisely so he can get great photos and video footage to bolster his lopsided narrative of America falling into chaos and violence. This is the spectacle.

Naked Athena is the beautiful emergence of ancient knowledge and wisdom of dealing with men like Trump and the troops his has sent into cities that do not want them there. It is no accident she was named Naked Athena–the Goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. These ancient Gods and Goddesses are not dead because we no longer believe in them. They live inside of us. They are part of us. They are the building blocks of our psyches that hold the energies inside each of us that move us to take action. How that action is expressed depends on the constellation of archetypes that begin to take shape when we are born and become consolidated when the ego is born at the moment of the Primal Split, as defined through Melanie Klein’s work and object relations theory. Archetypes were first described by Carl Jung. They are poorly understood by modern humans, but they hold the psychological templates of everything that we feel and do: love, fear, greed, war. If we do not pay attention to them and the balance of our inner worlds, they can get triggered and take over our minds–sometimes this is good, often it is bad. They can also emerge collectively in moments like these and quickly turn into monsters. Naked Athena placed herself between the beasts of our collective rage on both sides of the divide. She emerged at the right moment like soothing rain to calm the archetypes rising in rage against each other. That’s what the ancient myths, legends, and folklore are all about. They are stories about our own abilities to create reality or to destroy it. To me, Naked Athena is a beautiful counter force to hate and violence–in her nakedness, she is vulnerable and unadorned by trappings of modern civilization, placing her body bravely in the middle of the line of conflict. Some say this is the moment that these protests descended into spectacle. I say, it is a moment they ascended into a realm of transformation and good trouble. We must remember how to travel and navigate our inner spaces. This is where things become cloudy, inside the mind, for the body is a clear place.


Appendix of Resources

I am not going to digest all these things here, but all of them feed into my ideas about why Naked Athena is part of the Splendor of this moment rather than the Spectacle of it. White people have a lot to work out now and a lot of it is between other white people. So much has been hidden, kept secret, silently enforced. There is a reckoning going on many levels and the streams inevitably will spilt, but the force all of them are pushing back against is the spectacle of Trump, his base, and his collaborators, not naked Athena or any of the protests going on that include examples of Good Trouble and Bad Trouble, yes, reality is messy and there is not one easy, simple, all-inclusive narrative to explain any of it.


Owning Up: Why America Can’t Ignore Its Past And Its Failings

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty Images (From WAMU website on this show)

A flawed response to a global pandemic. A string of falsehoods concerning the efficacy of mail-in voting. A violent and undemocratic response to nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

The president of the United States has a lot to answer for in the eyes of his critics.

Ibram X. Kendi is the author of “How to Be an Antiracist” and the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. He’s written a cover story for The Atlantic detailing how President Donald Trump’s racism has forced America to confront its own, especially the prejudiced systems which have allowed the oppression of minority communities in the United States.

Ed Yong is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He recently published a piece for the same magazine painstakingly detailing the numerous failures and inadequacies in the federal government’s approach to combating the coronavirus. Yong explores how the underfunding of medical resources left minority communities particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, contributing to the country’s skyrocketing death toll.

We ask both of them: Is America ready to reckon with its past? And what happens to America’s future?


How Is The Federal Crackdown On Cities Sitting With Conservatives? — NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks to conservative writer Jonah Goldberg about the tepid response from conservatives against the president sending federal troops into cities which have seen violent protests.

This is a five-minute listen that is time well spent. One of the thing Jonah says is ‘we are going to see glorious video clips of how violent and degenerate America has become in future Trump for President ads and during the republican national convention.’


Seattle mayor calls Trump’s response to protests ‘un-American’ — Protesters and police again clashed in a number of U.S. cities over the weekend, including Portland, Oregon, and Seattle. President Trump has defended sending federal law enforcement to the cities, but many local officials say their presence is only exacerbating the existing unrest. Amna Nawaz reports and talks to the mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan, about what she’s seeing in her city.

I found the following part of this interview particularly compelling:

  • Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, I should point out, your critics will point to the fact that, for weeks, protesters several weeks ago had basically taken control of a few downtown city blocks.Your police chief had to go in earlier this month with heavy machinery and riot gear to clear that area. There was already concern about violence over the weekend. The police chief called it a riot on Saturday night.Do you think that the presence of federal forces could help quell these protests before they get out of control, and something similar to what happened before happens again, where protesters are able to take over some chunk of city space?
  • Jenny Durkan: I think that when you saw that the area on Capitol Hill that we were able to return to normal, that our police were able to go in there and clear that area with very little conflict and restore it back to a place that all the neighborhood and businesses could enjoy it.Contrast what’s going on in Portland, where, night after night after night, it is proven that what they’re doing is not working. They have not quelled anything. To the contrary, they have escalated it.So I do not believe that there’s any evidence whatsoever that any of the strategies that the president is trying to employ will lead to peace. And I don’t think he wants it to.He’s been very clear that what he is doing is targeting cities that are led by Democrats to show that there can be division and the lack of law and order, so that he can run on that as a president.That kind of political maneuvering of law enforcement really is un-American. And I think it’s dangerous for us to go down that path.
  • Amna Nawaz: Mayor Durkan, very briefly, you weren’t told before the current federal team that’s on the ground in Seattle was sent in. Do you have any assurance you will be told in advance of any further deployment?
  • Jenny Durkan: So, the assistant secretary did say he would call the chief of police and myself if the posture changed. But I know that — look, there’s one person who’s guiding the activities of this administration, and that’s the president of the United States. And so, regardless of assurances that anyone else might give me or any other local government official, we have to take the president at his word. And he keeps escalating his rhetoric, and then the behavior follows that rhetoric. And so, as a mayor of a city, I will tell you, I do need the federal government’s help. I need more testing for COVID-19. I need to make sure that, as this health emergency gets worse, that my hospitals can withstand it. I need the kids who are hurting not going to be back in school to be able to learn. That’s the kind of help we need from this federal government that we don’t get. A president should step forward and lead the nation. And, instead, he’s dividing the nation. And I think it’s a really dangerous time for America to be on this point of inflection in our history. And what — our choices today will decide what happens for generations of Americans to come.

When Trump first pulled this stunt (with Attorney General William P. Barr serving as his hedge man and is is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee this very day about this despicable day of failed democracy), I published this short video blog:


Portland NAACP President On Protests As A ‘White Spectacle’ — NPR’s Michel Martin talks with Portland NAACP President E. D. Mondainé about ongoing protests taking place there — and the federal government’s response to them.

Portland NAACP President On Protests As A ‘White Spectacle’ — Image from KGW8 article Published: 5:51 PM PDT July 27, 2020 by Author: Tim Gordon

This is the interview that spurred me to write the blog.


White Supremacy A Pervasive Scourge In Oregon History — This is a very important part of this story and why Naked Athena was such a brilliant move in the face of Trump’s culture war. KLCC reported this a while ago, and we need to really pay attention now:

“White supremacy has made recent local news, between Jeremy Christian’s murder trial in Portland, and the presence of white nationalist groups in rallies across the state.  A special edition of the Oregon Historical Quarterly is out now, that reminds residents that the problem is actually rooted deep in state history.

KLCC’s Brian Bull talked to the journal’s editor, Eliza Canty-Jones. Bull asked how ingrained white supremacy is in Oregon’s settlement.”


Chris Cuomo and Difference Between Good and Bad Trouble — The CNN anchor went on to define what is “good trouble” and “bad trouble.” Cuomo echoed Lewis’ assertion that the Black Lives Matter movement was “good trouble,” but noted that the “riots” and “touching to hurt” and “destroy” was not included, suggesting that focusing more on the violence rather than the protests is “bad trouble at work.”

Image from Fox News article: CNN’s Chris Cuomo says he was ‘borrowing’ John Lewis quote when claiming protests don’t have to be ‘peaceful’

This is a Fox News report. I watched this broadcast when Chris Cuomo made these comments and did not come to the conclusions being made in the Fox article. But, we all do this, twist what we see and hear to fit our narratives. Trump is a master in doing this. He has a natural born instinct how people are reacting and how to twist any reality playing out in front of him to appeal to his willing supporters and collaborators


Complicit Collaborators: Journalist Anne Applebaum On The ‘Twilight Of Democracy’ — This aired 7/27/20 on WAMU’s 1A. It is the most important nugget of the resources I have listed to consider and attempt to understand in order to survive the moment we are in right now. The description of this broadcast states as follows: Across the globe, authoritarianism is on the rise. We talk about it almost every week on the Roundup,as we scrutinize Russian President Vladimir Putin, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. And the U.S. isn’t immune, as historian and journalist Anne Applebaum argues in her new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. In addition to focusing on the military and government officials that enable nationalist leaders, Applebaum also examines how she’s noticed friends get lured to the far right. In a feature for The Atlantic, she writes:

“To the American reader, references to Vichy France, East Germany, fascists, and Communists may seem over-the-top, even ludicrous. But dig a little deeper, and the analogy makes sense. The point is not to compare Trump to Hitler or Stalin; the point is to compare the experiences of high-ranking members of the American Republican Party, especially those who work most closely with the White House, to the experiences of Frenchmen in 1940, or of East Germans in 1945, or of Czesław Miłosz in 1947. These are experiences of people who are forced to accept an alien ideology or a set of values that are in sharp conflict with their own.” 

Complicit Collaborators: Journalist Anne Applebaum On The ‘Twilight Of Democracy’
Why Intellectuals Support Dictators — New York Times article By Bill Keller that was Published July 19, 2020Updated July 20, 2020 about TWILIGHT OF DEMOCRACYThe Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism By Anne Applebaum

One of the powerful things Applebaum said during this interview is that politics are just ideas that men and women form in their minds, then get together to try to implement in society, nothing more. Often these ideas have nothing to do with the reality of the people. Rather, they tend to be overly idealized and simplified ideas of how to run a civilization. For Trump, it is even more lopsided because he knows the ideas he promotes has nothing to do with reality. To him, it is a game to see how many people he can get to believe them.

The example of the old Scottish folklore about fairies swapping out a healthy human baby and replacing it with a changeling, comes from Outlander. Claire is the lead character of this series, and she would soon find out why her friend Geillis Duncan warned her not to go up the Fairy Hill. Claire did not listen. She searched for the child, but found it too late. It died from exposure. All she could do was hold it tenderly; her heart broken because she could not find it in time. Her beloved Jamie finds her, puts the baby back in the tree, and takes her home… telling her perhaps believing the real child will live forever with the fairies will bring comfort to the parents who lost their child.

In the next episode or so, we find out why Geillis warned Claire not to go up the Fairy Hill. She was not warning Claire about the fairies, but the town’s people. When Claire and Geillis get arrested and put on trial for being witches, Claire listens in horror as the mother of the child she tried to save testifies to her witchery and spells. She realizes as she listens and looks at all the town’s people crammed into the court that they are turning into an alien, broiling, in-human lump of hate and violence that seeks only one thing: To see her and Geillis burned alive. The Fairy Hill was a metaphor for the townspeople who lived in a one-sidedness that was unsustainable. The monster inside of them all had to be let out once in a while, and it was coming out now as she and Geillis were about to be killed by these gentle folk. They were they fairies, and they were turning into zaries right before her eyes–evil, mischievous, in-human things.

Fairies to Zaries by Bebe

Watch out… watch out… the Zaries are rising…

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Sustain the Flame

Two years ago, the United States was flipped upside down. In response, millions and millions of people walked or took metro or rode their bikes or got on buses to the mall in Washington, D.C. They came from across the country, and if they couldn’t get to D.C., they marched where they were–and around the world!

I went too and interviewed more than 30 people that day. Following is the blog I wrote along with a one minute short and the citizen’s documentary I made from that day. In the one minute short, a marcher holds a sign saying “This is not Normal.” Now, I think we see just how abnormal this period has been, and how dangerous it is. We can and must heal the divide that has put us here. Trump is not the cause but a symptom of a deeper wound. So, once again, our stories matter, especially those that reach across the divisions that threw us into this moment. This is work we need to do together and with compassion, understanding, and love. It does not mean blindly accepting the current reality because this reality where Trump claims “I alone can fix it” is taking us down the wrong road. It is a road the world has been down before for Hitler claimed he alone could fix Germany’s problems more than 75 years ago. And so, two years later, every person’s voice and story is still very much needed from both sides so we can see with greater clarity our shared reality and heal the wounds that have put us here. In the following piece, you will see the seeds of my growing awareness of the importance the stories we tell about ourselves, our families, our communities, country, and world.

2016 Post:

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé
Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I don’t like crowds, and protests cause prickly sensations to crawl up and down my body for I am by nature a deeply shy human being, but I feel propelled to go down to the mall, and not only attend the protest, but also to interview people and find out why they have come and what their fears are. I feel like I need to gather their voices like water in a bucket ahead of the DC swamp that is about to be drained. Pushing me forward like a powerful wave is a story I began to write 5 years earlier that is set 150 years in the future. Devastating climate change has utterly reshaped the social-ecologic-geopolitical order of the world. Nation-states fall due to the enormous economic burden of trying to engineer themselves out of climate disasters. In their place, huge corporate states rise. As this new order takes form, there are good corporate leaders taking us in the right direction (e.g., banning all fossil fuels), and there are bad corporate leaders taking the world the other way. One evil leader eliminates the good leader, erases all his work, and turns the world, perhaps irrevocably, in the wrong direction. This is where my fictional story begins—and sadly, this is where our country seems to be today; a moment when conscious forward movement has halted, and now rapidly recedes pulled by intense yearnings for the past, which looks safer than pressing forward into an unknowable future—a force being harnessed by nationalist and populist movements worldwide. But this is an illusion to make America Great by looking backwards for one cannot step into the same spot of a river twice because it constantly flows forward, just as consciousness flows forward through time. Turning our backs on where we are going is as good as sailing blind into the oncoming rocks. As a country, we are undergoing a “pretty big” identity crisis where the thin veneer of what we thought was a normal and healthy democracy is cracking, and now we boldly step into the children’s fairy tale of the Emperor Wearing No Clothes(or perhaps this is just liberals feeling this way today as conservatives used this same metaphor 8 years earlier). Regardless of whether liberals are justified to feel this way now or conservatives were justified to feel this way before, the more important question is what do we do now when more than half of the country feels left behind?

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I don’t have answers, but protest is a start. It is a sign our democracy is still resilient and flexible enough to self-correct when the pendulum swings too far to the left or right. Protest is a counter force that emerges to try to rebalance when the collective balance gets knocked off center. After protest, comes the hard work of finding a way forward that does not exclude, abandon, or diminish any group of people in this country (or world)—one that can stay cohesive and evolve. Every person regardless of if they are black, white, brown, rich, poor, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhists, immigrant, legal, or “illegal” is vital to this process for every individual is a part of the fabric of our collective reality at this moment in time. When even one person is left behind, injured—physically or psychologically, ripped out, or banned from entering, the collective fabric of society is damaged and weakened. Thus, the work of moving forward needs to include everyone’s voice so that a bigger, better narrative can form and evolve, one that is more conscious than the one Trump has temporarily tapped into through the fear-based rhetoric Steve Bannon whispers into his ear based on the Alt Right narrative, which is strangely one-sided, warped, off-center, immature, and backwards looking. Why is this important—because narrative is a powerful device that acts like a high-powered antenna capturing and focusing an individual’s attention onto a narrow band that can be harnessed by the narrative creators—good or bad, narratives are powerful!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

When I set out on January 21, I did not understand any of this. I was simply compelled by my fictional story to go down to the Women’s March and gather voices of people who came from across the country to express their fears and concerns. As I talked with people, I felt reassured in my own unsettled feelings; then as I assembled their voices into this documentary, I felt re-energized to continue my own forms of resistance to find a better way forward.  I began to understand by collecting and sharing our voices, we can come to understand each other better, which is essential to define the emerging narrative that will help us holdthe centerof our core democratic beliefs and system for this moment in time galvanizes how just how precious and fragile democracy is everywhere in the world. Here in the United States, it’s hard for me to believe anyone really wants to tear mothers or fathers from their children simply because they didn’t get into the country the right way.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Listen to Kraig Moss’s interview on the CBC where he talks about going to 45 Trump rallies and was called Trump’s Troubadour, but now he feels betrayed by him and terrible about all the families being ripped apart due to aggressive ICE raids, arrests, and deportations of individuals—tactics that seem motivated more to meet quotas set by the new administration rather than really finding the “dangerous” illegals to deport. [Kraig Moss]

Do we really need to hire 15,000 more border agents and build a useless wall—what about employing innovative technology to do this work. I understand there is a need to have a lawful, orderly, and fair way to get into the country, but do we need to fix it this way—by tearing families apart and taking money and resources away from critical services such as after school programs that disadvantaged youth need so desperately, not to mention the long list of things Trump’s budget proposes to cut in the name of putting America First. Rather, his budget looks more and more like the citizens of America are being put last as a fearful, selfish, cruel, militaristic, and unpredictable (perhaps even insane) country emerges instead.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Now, we must gather our voices and listen to each other—and, most importantly, we must understand and respectdiverse points of view in order to wrestle back control of our collective destiny from the forces that have taken advantage of healthy differences between the left and the right, made them starker, and widen the natural gap; then, these forces have pushed both sides to the very edge of the chasm that opened where the darkness of the human soul looms larger and more threatening than it has in a long time—hurtling us into this moment! We have entered a time when truth, compassion, and dignity are under attack. Even science and the judicial system are being called into question by our elected leaders. What is even more disturbing is individuals we have elected to govern, specifically the ones holding the majority vote, continue to go along with and protect bad behavior (e.g., bouts of extreme narcissism, pathological lying). It is something we have not seen in the United States for many years, and perhaps we have forgotten how to recognize such a threat.

In my fictional story, my characters’ deal with a similar threat and must rely on empathy, intuition, and love to survive. I believe we must call upon similar super powerstoday! These qualities of human nature exist inside all of us, and I believe stories of every kind help us consolidate our inner resources so we can learn how to be better human beings.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Stories can be powerful places where people can go to gain insight—even wisdom—and to be re-energized. Perhaps even more important, stories help us recognize threats that come from within our own psyche and inspire us to resist bad behavior and destructive choices. Perhaps they provide a short cut in learning how to do the hard work of self-reflection needed to be a wiser, kinder, and more courageous person. Some stories even show us how to recognize and respond to existential threats and provide a pathway off a course that could destroy an entire civilization, even the world. We can change the fabric of today’s political toxic rhetoric because we are the fabric; we are its weavers! We can help each other address the important issues confronting our nation by creating space for every voice to be expressed, heard, and understood.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

We choose the quality of the thread we contribute to our shared reality through our thoughts, choices, and actions; therefore, I believe we can Hold the Centerand stop this receding tide of human consciousness as witnessed by the Women’s March, the day without immigrants, the day without women, the march of Native Nations, the Science and People’s Climate Marches, and many other marches, protests, and gatherings as well as a host of emerging organizations such as Indivisible, Better Angels, and others that when combined with new tools capable of linking us together in coordinated and purposeful action such as DemocracyOS and Resistbot create a powerful counter force!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I know this is easier said than done, but the process has already begun, and this is my small contribution to the emerging narrative that will guide us forward in becoming a more inclusive, conscious people. As we weave our voices together, we create a bigger, better, more powerful counter narrative. One strong enough to reabsorb the distributing Alt Right narrative and pull both sides back closer together so a bridge can once again exist where true democratic discourse can take place and where we can once again set about the work of building and sustaining a healthier, inclusive, creative, and more compassionate society; not the polarized, distracted, mean-spirited one that has grown out of the gap.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Together, we grow stronger and wiser for this is the flame—and each of us has a role to play in guarding it because it lives inside us. Do not let yours go out…share your voice, listen to each other (especially opposing views), and participate in the slow and steady work of creating a better, more healthy democracy for everyone—one that shines once again like a bright light that can guide the world if we let it! Thank you to everyone who spoke with me at the march! Your voices are the narrative of the documentary I have made on the Women’s March, and they are helping create a bigger, better narrative rising in great resistance against the fearful one temporarily possessing the country. And, thank you for watching this documentary—for you are creators through the simple act of applying your timeand attention—indeed, this simple act (often taken for granted) is powerful!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

We are the light, and we sustain the flamethrough our personal narratives, so infuse wisdom into yours—it exists all around us—it’s in every moment of every day and in every thought as we flow together through time!

— By Bébé

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