“Somebody gave me this body, but what do I do with it,?
It is a very remarkable body… I am alive and I breathe,
I am strong and tall,
Can somebody tell me who to thank for all this?
I am the gardener and the flower too,
and in this prisoner of the world I’m not alone,
Life beyond the glass may darken, day-to-day,
But my mark on that window pane will never go away,”
Evgenia Ginsburg, Into The Whirlwind
For the past few years, almost everyone who thinks and cares and feels has been led, or perhaps manipulated and seduced, into a new kind of whiirlwind, a firestorm of argument, rage, fear and distraction. You can call it the right, you can call it the left, you can call it the President, you call it the media, you can call it whatever you want.
I don’t wish to be pulled into it.
Every day we have been drawn closer and closer into the world of confusion, outrage and grievance, and over the holidays, and for most of this year, I have rejected this world.
It is exhausting and disturbing, I won’t be sucked in. I’ve chosen to create a positive and useful alternate reality for myself: doing good and adding meaning and support, not argument and complaint, to my life and the lives of others.
I am, as you know, no saint, no Mother Teresa, just a flawed human being trying to be a better human being in a time of endless conflict and disturbance and violence.
Many of you – we call ourselves the Army Of Good – have joined me. This holiday has been restful for me, I have stayed far from the whirlwind, I am learning to relax, Maria and I spent quiet and lazy days loving and reading and creating and talking, this is new to me.
A sweet time, a special time, no news or phones or cable news brawls for days at a time. The whirlwind is an ugly place to be, no matter what side you join, which label you paste on your forehead. It is the place of perpetual division and rage. Hope begins when the whirlwind dies and spins away.
Tomorrow, the holidays end, the politicians and the journalists return, the whirlwind spins.
We are called upon to return with them, to pick up our phones, turn on our pads and screens and let them define us every day. The whirlwind depends on us coming along. I won’t This is not my place, it is a place where people and institutions who pretend to be different but are often quite the same feed on our passions and anxieties and fears for their own greed and power.
I will not permit them to shape my moods, tarnish my hopes, make me feel small and discarded. I have good work, real work, to do. They will never control my consciousness or define me.
I have ambitious plans to do good rather than argue about good. I will not argue my life, I will live it by my actions, by small acts of great kindness, by the practice of empathy and compassion and listening. By trying to be better every day.
There is no path forward for me in the left or the right, in tweets and accusations, in press conferences or fund-raising campaigns or violent videos from everywhere.
I am not an angry white man, there is no label you can put on me that I will accept. So I am a refugee too. I am my own party, I have my own label: me. I have no President, there is no political party that cares about me or speaks to me.
The whirlwind leads nowhere and offers no hope. I will continue my search for humanity be seeking out the poor and the vulnerable, just as Christ preached and did and even though I am the farthest thing from a God.
You don’t have to join a thing to come along with me, you need not label yourself or let anyone else label you.
Come along this year if you wish and do a bit of good when you can. This month, the Army Of Good begins our Refugee Grocery Project, we will begin delivering $150 each month to a refugee family in New York state in need of food for themselves and their children. These families have been brought her to start new lives, and then abandoned and left on their own. They are us, they are new politics.
If you wish to donate, you can do so by sending a contribution to me at P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816 or via Paypal, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you a meaningful year full of compassion, peace and fulfillment, I thank you for supporting this work, I feel it is the future. One day an Army Of Good will rise up and create a different kind of whirlwind, one of hope and promise and good faith. Perhaps we will be around to see it.
“When men sow the wind, it is rational to expect that they will reap the whirlwind.” – Frederick Douglass.