The following is a guest post by Kipp Dawson, a public school teacher and former coal miner from Pittsburgh, PA.
A message—an appeal—to members of my generation. On the morning just after the U.S. Senate passed what’s being called the “tax bill.” (Those under 60 who are reading this are welcome here, but this is a matter among us elders.)
We are needed now. And we are being watched. This particular blow from the U.S. rulers hits more of our children/grandchildren more directly here on U.S. soil—and more immediately—than most of the others. Which is saying a lot.
So this morning more of us (look around, look around) are waking up to a more personalized/immediate kind of shock than we have collectively felt since that morning a year ago when the U.S. presidential election results were certain. And right now, more of our—and our children’s—and our neighbors—households are on the brink of immediate injury. We are being pushed together, all of the victims who might not have recognized any relationship/similarity/even humanity between/among ourselves —pushed down by the same scoundrels. It’s us now, too.
We are being watched this morning, and today and tomorrow. Just as we watched our elders when tough things happened to our people, our peoples, our planet, in our youth.
And because some of them did not give in to despair—did not turn to us and say “we’re sorry we’re giving you such a messed up world”—we had beacons, did we not? Because some of them had a sense of history and knew their/our ancestors had stood up to similar/worse/horrendous attacks and had looked them in the face and kept fighting—because of this, among our elders were people who gave us hope in their continued hope. Models in their resilience. A push away from despair in the resonance of their song. A hand up back to the work that has inspired the lives of those of us lucky enough to have found the battles that have energized and bound us.
It’s our turn now. It’s our turn to look into the bewildered/frightened/ questioning faces of our younger co-inhabitants of this planet. Not to deny the depths of fear and certainly to join in the anger. But not to apologize. Oh no, not to give any credence to the idea that all we have done to teach/heal/paint/sing/protest/organize/rejoice/create/build/join hands—that this has been in vain. Because that is just what the ugly powers want us to do.
Despair and guilt are understandable but dangerous. And we know better, do we not?
Our history—the struggles of our ancestors and yes, of our generation also—tell us a story of human beauty and resilience. And never has that story been more important. And who is to tell it best, if not us. We have a big, big job to do. As did those now gone from this planet who did it for us.
So please. Get up from wherever you landed when you read the news this morning. Pick yourselves/ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start—not all over—but start, again. Let us do the work we know how to do, even better and with more determination and community than we have. Let us be in the places and meetings where our younger sisters/brothers/children are working/studying/organizing and bring this gray hair of ours, these ears, and these memories of our own good work and ups and downs among those who will carry this forward. We will not lead them. But my oh my, we can give them our support, and my oh my, can that not be a salve now.
As was the support of our elders when we got knocked down along the way.
Right there with you, my beloved older sisters and brothers. Sending you love.
PS: While we’re at it, dear old ones, please, please tell your/our stories. Tell them to younger people who need to know/deserve to know, and who will know better than we how to record them. And tell them before our fading/aging memories lock tight the file cabinets in our brains in which we’ve stored them, and the locks rust. This is our children’s heritage, and, by golly, we have no right to keep it from them (and no reason). We have so much to tell! (And the memories will help us keep going, too, won’t they!?!)