Social media is drowning in misinformation and ideological war that many don’t even know we are fighting, even as they wade into ideological battle after ideological battle. Groups manipulate and subvert systems on social media to amplify their ideas, giving them a credibility they haven’t earned and don’t actually represent the will of the people. Death threats are common. Say the wrong thing, or say the right thing and the wrong person sees it and suddenly you are the target what can only be described as terrorist attack to silence you.
It’s all so much. So much hatred, so much fear stoked by a 2-bit demagogue with no concept of integrity. What can I do in the face of all of this when I’m terrified of being targeted by those on the other side of the ideological divide. Of being on the receiving end of a fight I can’t possibly win, drowned under a tide of hatred from people who know nothing about me outside of 280 characters.
While I was struggling with this, having just decided to quit Twitter because Fuck Jack, I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Nevertheless, She Persisted.” I’d forgotten all about that and the situation that spawned it. I started reflecting on what it really mean on what that statement actually represented.
She persisted. The context is Elizabeth Warren’s objection of Jeff Sessions’ appointment as Attorney General and she wouldn’t shut up when she was told to. I thought about it what is must have been like for her. She’s a smart person, she knew the outcome of her actions, without a doubt. She knew ultimately wouldn’t change the outcome of the appointment. She knew the fight was lost before she stepped up to the podium. Nevertheless, she persisted.
I thought about that with my own despair of the futility of the fight. What must have it been like for her to walk up to the podium knowing that no matter what she did it was already a lost fight. But, she still did it. She marched bravely up and tried her damnedest anyway. She persisted into a fight she knew couldn’t win.
It doesn’t seem as heroic as many stories lead us to believe it should be. We expect big dramatic moments, that every hopeless battle should be like the Battle of Thermopylae. We don’t expect a lone woman standing in a group of men refusing to be silenced as heroic. I realized during this reflection that we are on a journey, as a people. The destination doesn’t matter as much as the journey to get there. The ends often don’t justify the means.
The journey is fighting the battle you know won’t win. It’s being strong in the face of adversity even though you know it might not make a difference in the end. It’s evaluating our actions in this moment and not the outcome.
I find that here in the midst of all this fear from myself and others, it’s my practice that brings me solace. What happens in November 2018, or 2020, 2028, or 2036 doesn’t matter–not really. What matters what I do in this moment. At the end, no one will remember if I followed my principles and fought the hopeless battles because my morality called on me to do so–except for me. I am accountable to me and how I live my life, the principles and the morality I espouse. I decide moment to moment whether I follow that life, or not. What matters is this moment and the choices I make now–not whether I can hope to succeed. My success or failure does not factor into whether I should stand for what I know to be right.
In that light, it’s easier to let go of my attachment to the outcome. What will be, will be. What determines who I am as a person is how I act moment-to-moment not the outcome of those actions. It might be a hopeless battle–I might be walking into a battle I know I’ll lose, that I cannot win because the cards are so stacked against me. That’s the person I want to be, the person I am. It doesn’t matter whether I win or lose, as long as I tried my damnedest to do what I know is good and right.
Nevertheless, I persist.