The pendulum, that motherfucker whose only purpose in life is to fuck its mother…
In a recent interview with the BBC, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried to console us with a calming speech: “We're not experiencing the best of times…A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle; it is the pendulum, and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back…”
The pendulum, that motherfucker whose only purpose in life is to fuck its mother has swung away from everything we worked so hard to achieve and protect: women’s rights, health care, the environment, the arts - and, oh, a little thing called, freedom!
Justice Ginsburg went on to repeat the quote on the Statue of Liberty, becoming herself a kind of beacon, raising the torch to light our way, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” She talked about how tenuous those words were becoming, words we had always stood steadfastly by, rather like the Statue of Liberty herself.
She talked about the importance of a free press, using Watergate as an example of the kind of bravery we need to uncover the Watergate scandal and Nixon shenanigans. “That story might never have come out if we didn't have the free press that we do,” said Ginsburg.
But, the 83-year-old jurist said the public's resistance to the new administration - on full display at last month's Women's March - has given her “reason to hope that we will see a better day.” She was right. In the days after the election, nearly 5,000 women from around the country registered to run for public office. Hope.
Back to the pendulum.
I’ve stopped signing petitions. I stopped for one reason: They will fall on deaf ears. Perhaps not forever. But for right now, I don't see the point.
I’m not saying I was entirely hopeful when I signed petitions in the past. I knew there was a pretty good chance I was kidding myself that anyone on the receiving end of my concern was 1.) Going to give a damn, and 2.) Actually do something about it. But, it certainly felt that way – that there was a chance. We heard about petitions that had worked. Even one to a foreign nation that embarrassed the official to whom it was addressed so much, he initiated a change of policy. I’d seen video of volunteers from the National Resources Defense Council and The Organic Consumers Association delivering boxes and boxes of signatures to government officials. I knew one signature represented thousands to the government. These signatures were also presented in court cases and had swayed judges.
There was an excitement, a movement, a thrill of taking part in an effort to change things: to stop human trafficking; to stop abuse of human rights and animal rights; to stop U.S. Navy sonar experiments in the oceans from killing our whales and dolphins; to stop the killing of wolves, bears and buffalo; to stop Monsanto from poisoning our food; to stop fracking and drilling from poisoning our water; to stop the government from lowering organic standards and to stop the EPA from lowering pollution standards.
The EPA. My father was a foreman at a very old family stain company – staining wood, that is – in 1970 when the first EPA rep came to call. Daddy came home shaking his head, “They told me I could throw much more waste into the creek than I was already. I would never throw that much into the creek!” He was so disheartened. And, that was the EPA in its fresh-faced infancy.
I cannot sign petitions any more. I’m quite rattled by that. It’s been a black hole in my online life. The last petition that arrived in my email from my usual trusted orgs would have gone directly to the President.
What a joke! I won’t sign anything that’s going to the White House. What a waste of hope.
My advice to orgs wanting people to sign petitions: Address your petition to lower level officials – not the current President. Address your petitions to Senators, Representatives, Mayors, Governors, Directors, Board Members, any town or city official that must be elected.
In fact, I have conceived a direct mail campaign based on the Cultural Revolution’s dictum, “What if they gave a war and nobody came?” I’ve decided, and anyone may join me in this, the more the merrier, to begin a letter campaign to CEOs of major companies that might be heavy polluters of air and water if the EPA standards are lifted. I intend to appeal to their most human and practical qualities. I’ll request that they maintain their current clean air and water standards regardless of what the current government decides about the EPA. In fact, they may decide to tighten their standards. At the very least and most menial, changing nothing costs nothing.
Let's not go back to this!
I will continue to donate to my most favored orgs: the National Resources Defense Council; the Organic Consumers Association; Polaris and The Wilderness Society – all faves because they are effective on both the national and the grass roots levels. I also like their civilized, intelligent methods. I won’t sign petitions with violent language.
From now on, if I cannot sign and join in a petition, I’ll use my skills to write and speak, whether on this blog, on Facebook, or at poetry readings. My work has always carried my message, my mission, my faith. As the water protectors in North Dakota say, “My weapons are my heart and my words.” I shall write to protect organic standards. I shall write to protect people from slavery of all kinds. I shall write to teach people about achieving health through diet and lifestyle. I shall write to protect the environment. I shall be like Benjamin Franklin. I shall publish pamphlets if I must. I shall be like Supreme Justice Ruth Ginsburg. I shall not retire. I will never stop writing. My head will drop to the keyboard when I die. I shall be like F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I shall be like Tachia Sandoval, the woman in Colorado who used to have a clear, mountain spring running by her house and now, because of fracking, must travel miles several times a week to a water station where she uses her credit card to buy water.
Want to hear the irony? Fracking is no longer profitable. Solar, wind, and waterpower clean and sustainable sources are becoming easier, more efficient and cheaper to access than oil and gas. And, these renewable resources have more potential jobs on all levels for those concerned about jobs. That’s the good news. The bad news: Earthquakes. Many fracking wells have had to close down because of the powerful earthquakes fracking is causing in the Southwest.
Why do oil companies and countries keep on with pipelines and drilling? There are many more pipelines to fight than the Dakota Access at Standing Rock – here’s a list.
Oil is a dying industry, yet stubborn in its death throes. The Black Snake is not dead. But, it is dying.
Hope. Meanwhile, we write. And tell, and try to reach people.
To quote this brave woman, Tachia Sandoval, “If I can just make one person wake up, then I’m good.”
Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her newest book is Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author.