Sharing the Burden of Outrage

A survey of stories from recent newspapers, news sites, and news blogs proves what we’ve long thought: the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Evidence includes the following:

Man-made climate change is causing massive disasters, unwieldy temperature fluctuations, species extinctions, and a pile of consequences we can’t imagine. And there are loud and attention-seeking deniers who make the work to address the issues all the more difficult.Voters are being disenfranchised by draconian state governments – with the worst of them targeting miniorities and the elderly.

Veterans are being slighted – they are homeless, suffering with PTSD and often addictions, they aren’t healing form wounds suffered in battle, and they are exhausted. And they aren’t getting their due.

Clean energy solutions are being sidelined in favor of outrageous greed and ill-advised big oil interests.

There are questionable practices over the war on terror that continue in the current administration.

A willful ignorance seems to permeate followers of one of the major political parties, with a clear and present danger to the reality of our all-American, Christian, politically moderate President.

Religion is being used as a weapon against nearly everyone – and ‘freedom of religion’ is being perverted for deleterious causes.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are being so demonized, our LGBTQ and genderqueer youth are killing themselves.

As a country, we have failed the First Nations miserably – and continue to do so.
Racism thrives.

Income inequality isn’t just a catch-phrase but a horrific reality that is causing starvation, homelessness, disease, and unease.

A party who campaigned on “jobs” hasn’t created one – and has kept the President from creating them, too.

Anti-union sentiments assault workers of every stripe.

Anti-education sentiments are destroying primary and secondary education – and threaten post-secondary education as well.

Freedom of speech and information are threatened by perplexing bills poised to destroy the internet.

I am outraged by them all. Every single cause (along with many more I haven’t listed) is worthwhile, needing support, focus, attention. But I have reached the bottom of my personal well of outrage, so I am asking for help.

As readers here know, I am a full-time seminarian and full-time editor. I did a great deal of my boots-on-the-ground activism in the 90s, when I had energy and youth on my side. But as I near 50, I find I don’t have the energy or the time. I can’t attend every march, can’t donate to every cause, can’t write thorough diaries on every abuse of power.

However, I can pick one, and run with it. The one issue that I’ve been carrying a torch for since I was a teen is the cause of women. And it is this torch that I need to focus on.

I remember as a young teen in the late 1970s, going to Girl Scout camp in upstate NY, learning about independence, strength, and equality from young women who were on the front lines of the women’s movement. In addition to the music of Holly Near and Cris Williamson, they taught us the words of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Mary Daly. I emerged as a feminist (who knew how to build a camp fire and a lean-to).

I recognize that as a leading-edge GenXer, I inherited a movement already in progress: I didn’t burn my bras, because by the time I was wearing one, that had been done. I didn’t have to get the ERA on the docket, but I did implore state legislatures to ratify it. I didn’t have to fight for a woman’s right to choose, but I have continued the fight to ensure it remains legal. I have fought sexism in classrooms and in the workplace. I have fought for equal pay on a global and intimate scale.

I went for my bachelor’s degree in my early 30s and attended a southern women’s college, where I saw the next generation (closing-edge GenXers) reject the label “feminist;” I cannot count the number of times I heard “I’m not a feminist, but…” as they continued to speak a strong feminist platform. And I got to educate these women, who took the progress we’d made for granted, and show them all the places we still had work to do.

And now, here I am in my late 40s, and some things are better, but some things are horrifically worse.

I am outraged – and this is where my outrage must flourish. I am many things, but I am first a woman (technically a cisgendered woman, as I identify as strong female on the gender continuum). And the assault on me and my sisters has been so blatant lately, it is a wonder I can say we have made any progress at all.

Abortion rights are eroding on the state level, and many in Washington would see it be dismantled on the federal level. State-supported rape seems to be an optimal solution to the abortion problem – at least for men who cannot imagine the degradation and pain of transvaginal ultrasounds.Women’s reproductive rights are hanging in the balance, as the birth control fight surprisingly continues.

Health care is being denied to thousands of poor and marginalized women under the guise of “not supporting abortion.”

Daily, women are raped. And at least one presidential candidate suggests that a woman who conceives from this horrific act should bear the child anyway.

Daily, women are physically and emotionally abused. Yet the House GOP will not renew the Violence Against Women Act because it protects women they don’t care about.

Women are slandered on television and radio – and the typical male response is “it’s a joke.”

Women are vilified on television and radio – including movies, sitcoms, advertisements, and stand-up acts. All in the name of “comedy.”

Women are still being paid less than men, despite the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

There is so little regard for the women’s vote in the GOP, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone proposed repeal of the 19th amendment.

Women are being murdered for being women, are being mutilated, are being enslaved. Not just in other countries, but here in the United States.

Women are silenced.

Women are marginalized.

A few years ago, I thought I was at the end of my activism days – been there, done that, now it’s time for me to become a minister in order to help people of faith maintain that faith in the fight for justice. I heard my calling as a continuum of a life’s work – from learning to action to supporting.

But no more.

Oh, I’m still going to seminary and pursuing ordination. But I’m also standing up and taking active steps to fight against the invading hordes of 21st century medievalists who wish to silence my gender. I’ve rejoined NOW and Planned Parenthood. I’m attending various actions in my community. I’m writing letters and talking to people. I’m even helping in the fight against gender inequality in my seminary – a place that is light-years ahead of many theological schools but still suffering from the history of religion’s abuse against women. I’m seeking ways to ensure the very advances my generation took for granted don’t become part of a ‘used to be’ wish list for the next ones.

So please, I ask you, you who are outraged by the things I listed at the top of the page but may not have the energy to take up the cause of women, it’s okay. And please understand if I can’t engage in your outrage, as I’m too busy engaging in my own. Between us, we will share the burden and together, on many fronts, we WILL turn the tide.


Cross posted at Daily Kos.

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