By Liz Moore
As much as it pains me to acknowledge this particular reality, fall is pretty much here. This fall will see the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, on September 15. PJALS will march with Occupy Spokane at 12 noon on that day and I hope you’ll join our delegation.
The approach of fall means the Vernal Equinox is coming soon, of course. The equinoxes always make me think of that of that perhaps-Platonic ideal, balance. It seems like such a nice concept, doesn’t it? It evokes order and a sense of calm and serenity, like what I imagine it must feel like to successfully perform the yoga asana called Tree Pose, standing with one foot against the opposite inner thigh, arms gracefully raised above the head. I don’t actually know what it’s like to feel Tree Pose, because I wiggle and wobble like a wanna-be toddler trying simply to stand up. But I imagine it’s serene and calm, the embodiment of balance.
But I think I should be thinking of balance as a verb, not a noun. That’s less rarified and serene, but much more feasible. It’s how an ecosystem stays functional, not through stasis but through moving and developing parts that dynamically act, react, and interact.
As an organization with its metaphorical thumbs in lots of pies, PJALS is in active balance mode every day. Lately I’ve been thinking about how to balance helping legislators in Olympia to “see the light or feel the heat” on ending the death penalty in our state or closing those wasteful tax loopholes that unfairly benefit large corporations and the 1%, with the work of helping to grow and cultivate coalitions for issues that are key to creating racial equity in our community such as police accountability and alternatives to incarceration. It’s exciting and satisfying when we can see impact from our work together, right here in our community. And I’m also thinking about how to balance the importance of work that flows from recognizing the role of the US in the world, partly because it is so deeply wrong and arrogant for the US oligarchs to try to control the world, its people and its ecosystems and minerals and of course oil; that kind of domination is the best example of the myriad forms of violence. It’s also been on my mind partly because I remember with almost a physical sensation how powerfully transformative it was for me when, as a farm girl from Deer Park, I became conscious of how my own nation was funding and training death squads in El Salvador; how interconnected I was with folks I’d never met, whose misery I did not want to make me more secure even if it could. Later I got a scholarship to go to a summer program with young people from every continent, where Americans were a minority, and I felt even more how small our little planet is and how alike we are. Those early transformations have shaped my consciousness permanently. It’s like the feeling of looking up at the stars at night and feeling small and big at the same time… only with a much greater sense of responsibility because of the power dynamics at work. I have felt a real lack of that kind of internationalist grounding in the organizations I’ve worked in since then.
I’ve been thinking that we need to balance work likely to produce concrete results, like changing laws and policies around tax loopholes or police abuse, with work which primarily yields consciousness, like having a deeper understanding of how we are connected in basic common interests and creative nonviolent resistance with folks re-creating sustainable farming methods in Mexico, with folks resisting militarization of their lands and culture in Colombia, with young people trying hard to bring peace to Afghanistan, with the Women in Black and other peace groups in Israel and Palestine, and so many others.
I’m going to keep thinking about this, because I don’t feel like I’m yet totally able to articulate what I want to say. I hope you’ll share your thoughts and feelings with me too.