I want to say thank you for being a hopeful and energizing presence on Twitter.
I’ve been thinking about your tweet—you asked for questions about how to survive this moment. Your question in itself breaks my heart. Implicit in it is the idea that what we’re undergoing is unprecedented. Over the past months, I’ve thought about how at points in the past the US may have been similar to how it appears now—during the gilded age, for instance. And so I’ve been hoping that the country can survive the evil attitudes that are driving it right now—the corruption, the disregard for human rights, the view that the earth is only here to be used by humans for profit, the assumption that some people are superior to others. I have been a lapsed Catholic for years, and my crowd (writers and scholars) are extremely suspicious of Christianity and the Catholic church. But after the Nov 16 election, I did go to mass, hoping to be energized toward activism. I want my parish to give me permission to be an activist. Instead, the message I got was—be complacent, and pray. I haven’t been back since.
I keep up with progressive Catholic voices on Twitter, and in them I often find what I feel is missing both in my conversations with leftist friends and in places like my local parish. I feel that protesting inequality and injustice should be an act of faith. For me, it is. I feel the duty to call my senators and to attend protests the way others might feel the duty to attend mass. I sometimes feel this sense of confusion and need—the kind of feeling that once made me attend church—and I end up turning to social media where, if I’m lucky, I see a tweet from someone like you. So, one question I have is, how can I keep activism and faith together in my mind when so many voices I hear insist on separating them? And I have to admit here that I am pro-choice.
The voices of anger and negativity now are incredibly persuasive. I would like to ask you how to refute them—even if just in my heart. I have two small children. I occasionally feel guilt for having had children at all. I worry about what they’ll have to endure in their lifetimes. I fear for social instability, despotism, and environmental collapse. That their lives will be a long goodbye to everything that I currently love about the world. At my darkest moments, that’s what I fear most. I can’t bring that kind of dread into the time I spend with them, so sometimes I feel like I’m passing through the days in a kind of empty way.
I need permission to be hopeful. I see advice about effective activism and tips on self-care, but what I really need is a voice that will both recognize what’s happening and offer a way to stay hopeful. So many voices on the left leave me with a sinking feeling of guilt and dread. Should I be hopeful, Sister - am I allowed?