Monday, January 01, 2018

My Final Takeaway from The Last Half of 2018: A Reminder of Emotional Attunement, Connection, and Kindness

On the first day of 2018, I figure it's time to wrap up my Ameya Pawar Gubernatorial Campaign takeaway.

Inspired by

  • My anger about the Charlottesville white supremacy demonstration
  • [45]'s reaction to it
  • My almost violent encounter with some jerk in a pickup harassing a woman on a bicycle
  • The Solidarity Against White Supremacy demonstration in downtown Chicago
  • A demonstration a couple weeks later regarding [45] repealing DACA
  • Thinking about political civic-liberal strategy
  • And coming to understand
    • Expansion of suffrage
    • The Outlawing of Slavery in the United States
    • The Civil Rights Movement
    • How everyday local and state politics affect peoples' sentiment toward the political parties and candidates
I went to the 2018 campaign webpage for Ameya Pawar where I provided my contact information to volunteer. It frankly came down to him having become the most familiar candidate to me through friends on social media, local radio, and even at church (though after some exposure to other candidates, Pawar still strikes me as the one would do the best job in the position). Even now, I hardly hear anything about the remaining candidates other than on the radio or a random news article that strikes me as just some privileged guy who thinks they know what's best for everyone or someone who doesn't have the attention of the Illinois people for many reasons (but most likely lack of money and reputation to get their name out).

A week or so later the campaign texted me about the Chicago Kick Off Event for Collecting Signatures to put Pawar on the Democratic ticket for governor to happen on September 9th at the Irish American Heritage Center in Northwest Chicago. They had a more graceful name to it or the conversation happened so naturally that they just called it a "Signature Gathering Kick Up Event".

The event, itself, doesn't play a huge part in my experience of the campaign, though it's one of two "official" events around many volunteers. I've already recorded most of the events and significance from the event to the end of Pawar campaign entry on the blog and through my Twitter account.

My main takeaway from the event occurred at the beginning when they had us turn to each other and make some greetings. The young lady and her family to the right of me had a similar story as me: when [45] won Presidential Election 2016, we felt disappointed, frustrated with our society, and even a bit depressed by the prospect of how [45] and the GOP would attack the society we had come to love and the many advances that had occurred for civil liberties and civil rights during the last half century and last century and a half, and also the dignity that Barack Obama had brought to the office of President over the last 8 years. Also, [45] becoming President has emboldened many hateful people who seek to harm fellow Americans and human beings.

We hadn't done anything significant immediately, at least not until that point, except maybe that the family tried finding some action to take to fight back against the hateful and undignified scourge that took over our federal government. They might have reached this point more organically than I did, since they had gone to a speech that Pawar had made and talked about how he had charisma and made amazing speeches. I felt like a latecomer, but this family made me feel welcome and emboldened my desire to volunteer for the campaign (and maybe get further into the Democratic Party to try encouraging a better route for them).

More than this family and I have felt this need for initiative, too. The article I just linked to might come from the summer, but based on what I've heard from coverage regarding the Doug Jones victory in Alabama for the US Senate seat, the "[45] Bump" in liberal/progressive donating and activism continues strong to this day. Now that the Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment has ended along with other high volumes of work at the office, I hope to get back in the fray (though the Chicago freezing weather might discourage it for a few months).

I enjoyed making this connection with that family, even if the only thing we knew that we had in common was our distaste for [45] and that Pawar provided us an avenue to channel our energies. A couple weeks later, I fantasized about focusing social events and community gatherings for the purposes of political or social justice action. It happened at an event tangentially involved in anything like this, Therapy Sessions at the Hungry Brain, and is somewhat in a similar spirit to my deeper, more primal goal. It is somewhat of a live interview show focused on local talent and personality. When I went, it had a monologue about empty time, boredom, and how we seem to compulsively try to fill that time. Other than incidental topics brought up because of guests, the show didn’t really get into any intentional social dissection or anything.

Mainly, I just felt receptive to the anticipation of a somewhat intimate social event and thought about the potential positive effect it could have when used to bring people closer together, to facilitate people connecting (on a more sincere, emotional than loose networking), then working together to compound those connections and attunement to encourage more connections and attunement among even more people then to continue on even more. Even now, I can imagine such connecting as something to use for nefarious purposes, but the potential for good things feels worth it.

Not directly political, but apparently even the founders of Airbnb felt a similar urge when starting out. Per a Ted Radio Hour talk that one of the founders made, he said something like "We can make friends and make a tent!" He spoke very idealistic about how the social economy can lead to good things.

Obviously Airbnb has had to deal with the realistic, frustrating and disappointing issues of running such a service, just as Uber past CEO Travis Kalanick has contributed to sexual harassment and other issues in the social economy, and it's easy to imagine many other social economy firms having been the center and contributing to bad situations. Even considering those issues and some of my own general skeptical cynicism, the Airbnb founder idealistic desire for connection still felt infectious.

To get back to politics, Doug Jones in the Senate victory demonstrates the importance of coalitions. His coalition building also vindicates the argument that I made during Election 2016 that I didn't think either Clinton or Bernie could win the general election unless they supported and got the support of marginalized communities by understanding the people, language and issues, bringing up the issues, and coming up with good solutions for those issues that executed well.

Apparently, Clinton reached that point but too late, after she had already used up the patience of Black Lives Matter and other black people. Black and other marginalized peoples' votes had something to do with getting her 3 million votes more than [45], but her work and attempts to understand and get those votes came too late. The marginalized votes she got, she probably would have gotten no matter what. You can find my argument about how Clinton failed the black and other marginalized communities here, mainly because she had little, if any, outreach along with the just not showing early enough that she cared per the articles I linked in the last paragraph. She might have gotten some good numbers, but they were too geographically focused, and she needed a wider distribution of votes.

I donated $55 to the NAACP in 2017 (and likely the future) because of an interview of Cornel West I heard. He talked a lot about how marginalized communities have a lot more interests in common than they think offhand, whether because of the color of their skin, faith, sexual orientation, gender identity, or whatever characteristic that those with power decide they don't like. When these marginalized populations work together, they can accomplish a lot of good. Some doubts might arise because of the tactical and strategic arguments between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Cornel West and the same between the NAACP and Black Lives Matter, but coalitions can work and ARE powerful. They can work to make the world a better place. Doug Jones has demonstrated the power of working in and with coalitions.

I believe I stated my takeaway from the Pawar gubernatorial campaign in a blog entry around the time I volunteered for the campaign: emotional attunement and connection. I don't have any grand statements that have come from this campaign or have any methods to reach that point or anything, just that it's worth aiming for as a way to understand, feel good, and fight back the forces that seek to tear down those good and kind experiences. Maybe not so much in this sub-zero weather in Chicago now, but I want to get back into the political fray again, to try understanding more through real life experience and try to help us all get there (though I don't care to actually run for office, I don't have the quick wits or the personality).

The journey has its challenges and has the possibility for major mistakes. I come from a place of privilege. This status helps me get things easier for less cost than people with different characteristics and a similar status as me. Not only that, but much like how I discussed Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders above, I don't fully understand experiences different than mine, and I may say things in a dumb fashion that doesn't appreciate other peoples' experiences.

Hopefully I can embody enough humbleness not to remain stupid when I encounter it in myself and when people bring it to my attention. Maybe others with characteristics similar to mine can see me doing so, find inspiration through me and in themselves, then work on their humbleness to learn more, act kindly, then get some more connection and attunement while helping to strike down the forces that try to tear us apart for their own greed, shame, and insecurity. And maybe my studies and writing can help paint this map, too.

Who wants to join me in 2018 on the journey? Hopefully I'll get back to more volume with the blog posting again. I know I've gotten a little better with the fiction writing and studying again, having gotten the many tasks I had enumerated in the past done, so I shouldn't have too much trouble getting back into the swing of things!

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