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February 14, 2006

A Daily Act Of Conscience

-- by Gary Boatwright

Constructive social change and progress do not march forward at a steady pace. Rather, they are a series of successive plateaus that are achieved, attacked, defended and then once more moved forward. With the Democratic Party caught up by ineffective political paralysis, many progressives are feeling frustrated and caught up in despair. Nothing cripples the will like isolation.“The antidote to such paralysis is hope: defiant, resilient, persistent hope, no matter what the odds against us may be. As Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourner's magazine writes, “Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, then watching the evidence change.”

We can help the evidence change by engaging in a daily act of conscience.

Hope has been called an orientation of the heart and a way of looking at the world – more than that, it’s a way of life. Reverend Victoria Stafford advises us to “plant ourselves at the gates of hope” so we can see the landscape with fresh eyes. We cannot exist apart from the nonhuman realm, both spiritual, plant and animal. Our actions of conscience confirm the link between our fate and that of everyone and everything else on the planet. Acts of conscience are both a demonstration and a confirmation that hope exists.

In the battle against the politics of bitterness, we are all called to participate. We are called to plant "seeds of the possible" in the twilight of that “all important line between hope and despair: the value of believing we have options; and the ability to savor the abundance of the world.” It is our job to put windows and doors in that suffocating tunnel of spiritual exhaustion.

Possibility is the oxygen upon which hope thrives. Hope and history may not always rhyme, to borrow a phrase from Seamus Heaney, but human generosity is a starting point toward bringing them together. If everybody who reads this commits to one small act of daily conscience, we can help the evidence change.

Little things like printing a short article or newsbyte from the web and delivering copies to ten or twenty of our neighbors. Perhaps stopping by our local registrar's office, picking up fifty voter registration forms and knocking on five or ten doors on our block to register our neighbors. Put a bumper sticker on your car. Speak up at the water cooler. Join your DFA Meet Up. Above all participate in your own future, the future of your children and loved ones and help take back our country.

Editor's Note: Practically all of the phrases and ideas in this essay were taken nearly verbatim from the first five or six chapters of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear by Paul Rogat Loeb. My attempt to attribute every phrase and quote ruined the flow of the profound messages carried by this collection of fascinating essays. I encourage everyone to purchase a copy of Loeb's book to lift your spirits when apathy and frustration threaten to paralyze your political will.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at February 14, 2006 9:36 AM

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Comments

I'm glad you posted this for several reasons. It's all too easy to blame the current horrors on "Christians" without being aware that the vast majority of America's Christians are as horrified as those of us who prefer to be secular. They're working just as hard as the rest of us to block the deluge of horrors, too. Also, it's really true that the only way to put a stop to what's going on is to take those small, individual actions. As the Republicans have amply demonstrated, it's grassroots politics that make the difference. Give up hope, and nobody's going to do anything. The alternative is paranoia and fear.

Posted by: MJ at February 14, 2006 1:58 PM

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