It snowed today. It was the kind of snow that comes with its own chilling fog. It was icy and damp. We stayed inside and did nothing of consequence.
We read. We took four naps, two each. Sophie took six naps, two with each of us and two on her own. We watched several hours of political drama in films. When we watch shows based in Washington, DC–when they really are filmed there–we spend time with the characters and the place comes alive for us. We are mentally walking across the streets, into parks, riding the metro and even working in the halls of the federal offices with the characters in the stories.
We remarked today that we missed doing the scholarly, advocacy and guild work we used to do. Age and other concerns have reduced the number of days we sped in our Nation’s Capital but its tug is always just under the surface for us. My spouse spent the better part of a year faithfully going to the National Archives examining every folder, letter, scrap of fabrics in the letters, treaties and deeds covering one community and their interactions with the U.S. Government during the time when the United States Government was creating reservations for American Indians.
It was a cruel time, one in which war had developed its own culture both through the Civil War and the Indian Wars that had disastrous consequences for all involved. My work in Washington focused on getting health care to people who had no access to care and on community building. Both of our work was the same. We both learned the stories of things that were unjust and we tried, in our own small ways, to help smooth the edges of ranker and anger to try to find ways to make things better reaching from the present to the past and from the present to the future.
We have to believe that out efforts made a difference but we also have to recognize that we had very little power and the stories we had to tell were dwarfed by events like the ones that show up in film. If you stand back and look at the film versions and the real life versions one of working in a government one of the overwhelming messages is one of tiredness. People spend much more of themselves doing the work of the Country than they should or have the capacity to spend. Curiously, we never notice when we ask people what it costs when we ask people to take on governing on our behalf. We just notice what happens when someone we elected or supported fail us in some way. We do not recognize the hours and days and months of trying to bring people together to found common ground outside of the exclusionary back room deals. Bringing things forward from the backroom is heroic. Few are happy with the promises demanded and the promises to be kept when the interaction borders on coercion.
As a result of our time visiting and working in DC we should know to notice. We should know the costs to one’s physical and psychological health that is sacrificed on behalf of us, the citizens of these United States. Regardless of what side of the aisle, gender, age, race, sexual preference, disability status or social or economic status, it is a basic human right to have access to clean water, basic healthcare, a place to sleep and be with one’s kin and larger community.
That is what building one home is truly about.
This entry today is dedicated to the hardworking servants of the people who help us reach toward fairness and dignity for all people.