No one can take on all these issues at once. The number of petitions to be signed sometimes seems onerous. And yet this is the most important time yet for our participation to increase, rather than lag.
Most important because as the noise continues and the lies pile up, we must assert ourselves, especially as others perhaps tire, give up and drop away.
But we must also save ourselves—all of us who value our creativity, our quiet, our essential centering. And our hope.
I believe I’ve found a solution that will work for me, and perhaps be helpful to all of you. It’s the example of the hummingbird.
Now, when I read news stories (I don’t look at the news on television), I skim those whose headlines make it clear that THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE.
An example from today’s news: I cannot persuade the club members in Florida to give up their $200 thousand (which may have gone up to $300 since the election) membership in Trump’s Mar-A-Largo which gives them unprecedented access to the president—to “whisper in his ear” during cocktail parties and dinners.
Nor can I persuade these people and their peers to show the disgust at excess I feel. They live in excess and apparently value it—a way of life that depends heavily on the wives who keep those houses going, hire and fire those servants, and dress up to go to dinner at the club—and who will not be whispering in the president’s ear. I don’t know these women, I can’t reach them, and nothing I write or do could change their values.
But there is something I can do about the issue that pains me most today: the threat of imprisonment and deportation that hangs over some of the people I most value, who have been here for years, pay taxes, raise families and do the work I and so many other people depend on.
I was horrified when a few days ago our City Council here in Santa Fe voted to delete the word “Sanctuary” that they feared would bring a cut in Federal funding—the 7 million dollars on which this poor state depends.
I don’t agree with this decision, especially shocking in light of our mayor’s vocal support for the concept of Sanctuary Cities, for which he has been a national spokesman.
So when our City Council votes again, on Wednesday, to strengthen our stance in support of our people, I will be there and if I am lost in a crowd of vocal supporters, so much the better.
That will be my beakful of water, for Wednesday. Every day, I will write or call someone in my local legislature or in the U.S. Congress about another issue on which I can effectively use my tiny portion of power.
The Story of the Hummingbird
As told by Wangari Maathai
One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.
This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”
And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?” And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”
Animated version, narrated by Wangari Maathai