A few days ago a couple of old friends of mine tracked me down and pinned me to the wall. “Wake up!” they yelled, “we are mothers, and we have forgotten these children, the children in cages at the border, and now they are dying. We have to do something and you have to help us!”
I was horrified. I had just gotten comfortable. Oh, I knew things were bad, children were being ripped away from their parents and left in jail cells, and it curdled my blood if I let it in. So I didn’t. Because what could I do, just one person? And anyway it wasn’t even headline news anymore.
And now these two friends had spoiled everything. I knew they were right, but I didn’t want to have anything to do them. Because they’re different from me, fearless bitches who will plunge into hell itself on the volcanic force of their convictions to do what they believe must be done.
I am not like that, and I don’t want to be like that. I’m a quiet person, I hate politics, and more than anything, I’m scared of what might happen to me if I stick my nose where it isn’t welcome.
So I said thank you very much, I’ll let get back to you.
But then I couldn’t sleep. Because like they said, I am a mother. Of course I have to do something.
So, looking for clues about what exactly to do, I watched Fahrenheit 11/9.
It wasn’t the kind of enlightened reassurance that I was hoping for; it was horrible. But it helped. Because it horrified me enough to set a fire under my butt, and it also gave off just the faintest whiff of hope.
The movie packs a wallop. It makes it clear that our situation here in the good ol’ U.S.A., is worse than we have ever imagined. In his hometown of Flint, Michigan, the children are dying because the Mayor chose to poison their drinking water in order to make a buck. And you know that this isn’t an isolated case, that people in power everywhere believe they can fill their hollowness with money. What happened in Flint could happen anywhere.
It’s like your most horrible nightmare, where the bogeyman is climbing the stairs, he’s almost outside your bedroom door, and you are doomed… until, at the last moment, you notice the feeblest ray of moonlight leaking through the curtains, and you realize that if you don’t panic, but look very carefully, it just might show you a secret doorway out.
You’re lucky, you find the chink in the wall just in time, and slip through it, emerging in a new place with a bunch of other people like you. You’re catching your breath with relief, until you realize with horror that no, you’re still doomed, because the bogeyman is still coming, he’s coming for all of you, and he’s closer than ever, and no one can stop him.
You are sure all is lost, until Tinkerbell flits in. She’s lost her wand, but she can still talk, and she whispers in your ear that there is a way to beat the bogeyman – but it only works if you act together, all of you. If you believe in each other, support each other, and work together with unshakable faith, you will unlock your collective secret superpowers for good, and all will be well.
Well, that’s good enough for me.
The bogeyman is real, but as the movie also showed, that there are a LOT of good people out there, all of us following that feeble ray of light. Little by little, with patience and courage and persistence, we will find each other, and if we keep the faith, and give our best, there’s more than a small chance that goodness and kindness will triumph, and the future will open up, full of joy and peace, for everyone.
But like my friends said, we have to wake up and act. And there’s a chance we will fail. But even so, it’s all we can do. It’s the only way to be OK with ourselves.
I say it’s worth the risk – what do we have to lose but the nightmare?
Attack of the Benevolent Harpies and Fahrenheit 11/9
Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards, one of the poet-bards of Silo’s Message, is the author of "Ambrosia," "Confessions of Olivia"; "On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo"; "Soft Brushes with Death"; and "Experiences on the Threshold." Exactly two of her poems have ever been published: "Fairies of the Forest," which appeared in the Palo Alto Times "Youth Said It" column in 1957, and "The Great 21st Century Poemic," which appeared in the April 2021 edition of Global Poemic (globalpoemic.wordpress.com). She also edited and published the independent San Francisco newspaper "Human Future" from 1989-1997, and before that co-founded "La Mamelle," a '70s San Francisco arts publication. A graduate of Stanford University, she helped raise several humans from infancy, and is now enjoying their friendship. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.