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Letter to a study/action group

alesnick's picture

Dear Friends,

It is good to write to you this morning in shared concern and hope.  Many of us are in regular touch on Facebook and email, but I want to write here with some updates and thoughts.  Perhaps you, too, would like to use this as a quieter, more contemplative space to for writing, thinking, and sharing. 

Since I started this study/action group following the election, we have all been working to understand and respond to the new US regime.  Locally, Rob and I hosted two gatherings (that included guests online), the second one including a neighbor, a wise woman of grace, persistence, and clarity, who had also reached out to start a group, now called the Social Justice Group, Springfield Township and Chestnut Hill.  It is a good blend of dialogue and activism.  Rob and I have joined up with this group and will continue our organizing and study efforts through it.

Like many of you, we have been making frequent calls to our elected officials following the guidance of resistance groups such as the Wall-of-Us and Daily Action.  We have signed petitions and donated.  Friday i attended a Teach-in at Bryn Mawr College at which activists spoke about the way forward.  Saturday we joined in the Women's March in Philadelphia, so grateful to be with 50,000 people here, and with millions worldwide, in solidarity against extremism, ignorance, division, greed, and isolationism.

For my part, one way I am trying to tune my mind and actions is to always see what I do as connected to what many others are doing, to remember we are many, and never alone.  Thinking of personal agency as real as well as really limited is perhaps a way to stay energized, active, concerned, and connected.  I am inspired in this by a statement of the Israeli writer Amos Oz in an interview about how to respond to the current political world:

"What could we do about the present situation? I have some problem with the word we here because I don’t know exactly what the person who asked the question means by we. I’ll tell you what I do. I do what I can. The fire, the flames are big and horrific. Everyone of us has to choose confronting a big fire. You can run for your life and leave those who can not run to burn, because unfortunately they can not run. You can write an angry letter to the editor blaming those who started the fire. But you can also take a bucket of water and pour it on the fire. And if you don’t have a bucket, use a glass or a cup. And if you don’t even have that, use a teaspoon. Everyone of us has a teaspoon. Fill it with water and throw it in the fire. The teaspoon is very small and the fire is very large but there are many of us and everyone of us has a teaspoon. That’s my simple answer to this question. I do what I can as a teacher, as a writer, as a neighbor, as a citizen to pour some water on the flames of hatred and incitement and fanatacism and bigotry and prejudice. I have words and I use words. My words are my teaspoon. This is what I can do. What can you do? What can the person who asked the question do? This is a question only you can answer. But I can tell you, there is something you can do. Something you can do. I know that. I don’t know what it is, but there is something everyone one of you can do. Do it.” (

I would love to hear what you are thinking and doing, how you understand your teaspoon, bucket, or cup, and what questions you have about all of this.

In solidarity,