It’s been just about a year since working women of all kinds gathered in DC to oppose a woman-abusing, worker-exploiting, Trump-supported nominee to head the US Department of Labor. As I heard journalist Sarah Jaffe put it recently, that successful mobilization against chain-restaurant titan and wife-abuser Andrew Puzder, should in many ways be seen as the start of this stage of the #MeToo movement.
Since then, who can keep track of all the abusers and all the abuse? Who can keep track and who can explain so much violence, so much forcing our will on one another, and so much terrorizing against people we claim to recognize as sisters, friends, family members, employees. How do we let it happen, and why is it so rare that we make it stop? And what makes us accept the terribly bad bargain of silence, the going-on-as-normal?
And then I try to remember that we don’t always go along. Sometimes we speak up, as women did against proposed Labor Secretary Puzder in 2017, and as we did, as a world, fifteen years ago, on February 15th 2003.
I remember standing in a huge crowd near the United Nations, part of a worldwide uprising of tens of millions of people in sixty countries, all saying no to waging war on Iraq.
On that cold day, a very bundled-up Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “We are members of one family, God’s Family, the human family. How can we say we want to drop bombs on our sisters and brothers and on our children?”
We said we couldn’t, we didn’t want to, and then we let it happen, anyway, and that was 15 years ago this month.
Today, according to the Costs of War Project US troops and drones and bombs are forcing themselves on people in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia. US special forces are in a total of 76 countries and the terrifying US-led "war on terror” has involved 39% of the countries on the planet.
I believe the sick calculus by which we permit terrorism and abuse of our power in Iraq is the same sick calculus by which some of us believe we can get away with forcing our will on others nearer to us.
Which leaves me here in another cold February, trying to imagine what my next minute would be like if I actually lived on a planet of people who believed they were related to one another. What would that look like, feel like, breathe like? And what would we be doing with all the time we wouldn’t have to be spending wondering and imagining and fending-off and being, or not-being silent?