by Joe Courter
I was out with my friend Lee shooting pool and talking, and he was telling me about all the drama at the City Commission meetings, the issues over three-story apartments and a parking garage in the Porter’s neighborhood, controversy over city emails as public record, and the general tension and lack of decorum at meetings. I was aware from some things I’d seen on Facebook and in the Sun, but was not following it like he was. I mentioned my mind had been preoccupied with the shooting in El Paso, and my outrage over how little the fact this gunman drove from just outside Dallas … 900 miles … to do his racist killing had been discussed. That this was more about Dallas than El Paso. Lee said: “What shooting in El Paso?”
We all tend to be in our information silos and have our priorities as to what is important. Lee is plugged in locally and impacting real issues. I am out in the wider world mentally, trying to understand it, see where it is going. I watch very little television news now, almost none. I keep up with Democracy Now!, NPR (increasingly frustrating), and The New Yorker, and read a lot off my screen from the hive mind of Facebook friends and sources like the Intercept, the Atlantic, Tariq Ali, and others. It is a long way from Walter Cronkite.
So we all get our information from all over the place; the real question is how does it affect us, and what if anything do we do with it.
In our wonderful blue dot community, I see a lot of activity going on, and I can only hope that it is going on elsewhere. I see people going down to Miami to witness against the migrant children camps. I see Moms Demand Action having a rally at Cypress and Grove against gun violence. Electoral organizing by various groups has begun. There was a large event marking Medicare’s birthday and the ongoing push for Medicare for All. Renters’ rights have become an organizing effort.
As to be seen in these pages, environmental efforts regarding the Santa Fe River and Nestlé sucking water from Ginnie Springs join the ongoing fight against phosphate mining in Bradford County. People like Jenny Brown and Paul Ortiz are out with important books. Challenges to the prison industrial complex are growing on numerous fronts, against cash bail, solitary confinement, and voting restrictions, and for restorative justice. I have watched friends turn into kickass union and community organizers. We saw this town stand up to the Alt Right when Richard Spencer came to town.
There are those who are just pulling blankets over their heads as the growth of an authoritarian, dare I say fascist, government becomes normalized. There are those who have abandoned hope of defeating the information overlords, seeing the whole system as a corrupted hopeless situation, an artificial construct to keep the masses occupied. That is not how I roll. The CMC recently hosted some people on their way to El Paso to set up a community center with resources for migrants, longtime organizers. One of them spoke of a concept that struck me as appropriate for our times. It was this:
“Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”
We need to have that within us, and within our organizations. We need to build it up and have it at the ready. We have a drunken uncle who has moved into our house and has his friends over raising hell. We need to get him to move out, take his friends with him, and then get the house back in order, straighten up the furniture, clean up the yard, and make it even better than it was. He may not want to go, he may face arrest if he leaves and he knows it. But we know what is right, and what is right is worth fighting for.
So whether for kids in cages, for our neighborhoods, for our rivers and springs, or for our rights and liberties, we know what the bigger fight is, and it lies ahead in the next 16 months. Get ready. We are all in this together.