Thoughts On Inauguration Day
This is a day of fear … of anticipation … of celebration … joy and despair.
In a divided nation and a divided world these disparate emotions are running wild all over the place.
Down the hall in my tiny corner of the globe my neighbors are hanging flags and breaking open champagne to celebrate the Inauguration of President Trump.
Meanwhile I sit quietly, writing copy attacking the new President’s swamp of billionaire cabinet members mired in conflicts of interest as they plot to line their pockets while heaping misery on the lives of millions.
Democracy is very much alive.
My greatest concern today is for those who have become mired in fear, bogged down in some naïve cynicism, intent on tweeting and texting their shared disappointment and rage in a self-reinforcing loop of misery and despair.
Snap out of it!
Get to work. There’s hope to spread.
As activist Rebecca Solnit, author of the must-read Hope in the Dark so correctly notes: “Hope doesn’t mean denying reality. It means facing it.”
Among the most fortunate folks on this Inauguration Day are fundraisers.
Why? Because we have the ability — nay, the obligation — to face reality and tell stories. And we have an audience for these important stories — the donors, volunteers and other stakeholders who share our values. A far mightier army than most pessimists imagine.
Stories are the true foundation for change. They make injuries and wrongdoing visible. And visibility is the essential first step in remedying a problem, righting a wrong. Through storytelling, what so long was tolerated builds and builds and suddenly becomes intolerable.
In my 50 years as an advocacy fundraiser this phenomenon has manifested itself over and over. Segregation. Gay bashing. Women’s rights. Marriage equality. Economic inequality. Environmental concerns, animal rights. You name it.
With these 50 years behind me I can also assure you that anyone who tells you once victories are won they will stay won is a damned fool. Victory and change — for better or worse — are never permanent.
Of course things don’t always change for the better. But we can all be absolutely certain that things do change. And so, we must go to work today to create tomorrow’s change we want with our voices and vision.
I am confident our work will produce more victories and positive changes … simply because we’ve done it so many times before.
And for those deeply mired in despair, convinced of the awfulness we now face, I leave you with former President Barack Obama’s words from his final press conference on Wednesday:
“The only thing that’s the end of the world is the end of the world.”