It’s one of those weeks where I feel quiet. I’m listening. I’m watching the leaves in the breeze and wondering about their trembling. I’m feeling very grateful for the incredible people I know and don’t know, and very existentially worried about this nation and this planet, about the bodies and hearts, breaking everywhere.
-Courtney Martin, author/activist
For the first time in history, the Supreme Court has taken away a constitutional right. This has never happened before. I write to you now as a lawyer and mother. No matter your view on abortion, this is my love letter to you.
First, a deep breath
We got the news that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe on a family trip to the mountains. Even though it was expected, it still felt shocking. We wept, my mother and me. Then we went into the forest as planned and visited a grove of ancient sequoias that are 2,000 years old. We saw charcoal scars from recent wildfires – and new green shoots. The trees keep going. I thought about how their roots create a hidden network beneath the soil, the mycelium, where they send one another information and nutrients. If one is hurting, the others send it support. These trees know that resilience and longevity are only possible in community. This is how we are going to survive the multiple crises we are living through now. I send you this letter through the roots.
What’s happening now
As we speak, half the states in the U.S. are enacting laws that restrict or make abortion illegal in all or most cases. Forced pregnancy will become law in many states, even, in some cases, those caused by rape and incest. Those who resort to unsafe abortions because they cannot afford to travel to another state for care are at risk of death. Black, Indigenous, and brown women will be harmed most. My dear sister and friend survived two ectopic pregnancies that would have taken her life if it weren’t for abortion care. Now women who are denied the care she received – a standard remedy in her case as in many other similar cases – will die.
Miscarriages are already being investigated as murders in several states. Those who travel to other states for abortion care could face criminal prosecution and go to prison, along with the doctors who care for them. Many states are moving to restrict abortion pills in the mail, which means enforcement would only be possible with unprecedented levels of surveillance. This will impact people of color in communities already heavily policed.
What could happen next
Overturning Roe is the beginning. In their ruling, the majority argued that a constitutional right must be “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition.” By the court’s reasoning, every constitutional right that has been secured since the mid-19th century is now in question. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas directly called for the court to eliminate the rights affirmed in Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell — the right to use birth control, the right to marry a person of our choosing, and the right for consenting adults to do as they wish in the privacy of their bedroom without being arrested or charged with crimes. In other words, this case opens the door for assaults on bodily autonomy, privacy, and liberty in the most intimate arenas of our lives.
Why this ruling is regression
In law school, I studied Roe with my mentor Reva Siegel, one of the nation’s foremost constitutional law scholars. I learned about the generations of women before me who dedicated their lives for basic freedoms. Reva calls the Court’s claim to originalism a thin veil for advancing a political project that treats women as second-class citizens. For to strip away a woman’s freedom to care for her own body when it matters most -— to decide when, whether, and how to bring children into the world — is to deny her intelligence and humanity. It is a failure of recognition, a refusal of dignity, a regression of the highest order.
If you don’t support abortion
I respect your position. If you believe a person begins at conception, then you likely believe abortion is killing we should prevent. But this ruling will not minimize the number of abortions. It will simply increase the number of unsafe abortions and the number of women who will die from them. Imagine all the ways we can protect life without causing more death. We can support women and mothers and parents by funding contraception and sex education, prenatal care, baby formula, paid maternity leave, paid parental leave, universal health care, universal pre-K, and on. If you are pro-life, imagine what it would mean to be on the side of life for all.
Honor your rage
If you are angry, you are not alone. The majority of Americans believe that the choice to make a family belongs to women and pregnant people, not lawmakers. Where is rage in your body? Place your hand there. Stay with the sensation. Feel your rage. Honor your rage. Breathe into it. Where does it want to go? Choose how you want to move it — talk it, scream it, wail it, sing it. Your rage is loaded with information and energy (Audre Lorde). Together, we are going to alchemize this rage into a force the world has not seen.
The story of America is one long labor — not linear progress, but a series of expansions and contractions. I believe this massive contraction, this cruel regression, will ultimately be followed by an expansion of rights and dignity and justice — if we show up.
So what do we do?
There are thousands of ways to push that will shift culture, consciousness, policy, and power in the coming weeks and months and years— block by block, heart to heart. We don’t have to do all the things. Just our thing. Together, we are a body in motion.
We will march. We will organize. We will sing. We will dance. We will make art. We will create underground networks of care. We will raise money for abortion clinics. We will build sanctuary cities. We will fight for new legislation. We will work to expand the court. We will run for office. We will win. We will teach our children. We will listen to opponents with humanity. We will speak with authenticity. We will trust the power of our stories. We will follow the lead of Black and Indigenous women who have long known how to survive unspeakable harm on this soil. In doing so, we will uncover new forms of ancestral courage and resilience — and imagination.
We must do more than resist — we must reimagine a future where every person has the bodily autonomy to choose when, whether, and how to make family and flourish.
I invite you to protect space to imagine. To focus not just on what we are fighting against, but on the world we are fighting for. When we imagine and dream together, we can begin to feel the world we want in our bodies. It becomes like a memory that we carry. It can become our North Star. Imagination needs space. Let’s make space together. Remember the trees. Resilience and longevity are possible in community.
Below is a recipe for resilience and a hymn that has become a balm for my soul, plus ways to take action.
In Chardi Kala — even in darkness, ever-rising spirits,
DONATE to support providers, independent clinics, and folks seeking abortion.
STAY INFORMED. Learn your rights, locate the nearest abortion provider, and seek legal support to protect your abortion. Share these resources with folks who need it.
EDUCATE yourself on how to keep your information private.
A recipe for resilience
Here are revolutionary love practices for this moment.
Choose what you need. Share it.
GRIEVE: What is the shape of grief in your body? If you feel the primal scream in you, this is the time to make space for healing. Let yourself touch the sorrow, rest and breathe. Don’t isolate. Show up to a healing circle in your community. Organize one if needed. Go to vigils. Be with people who make you feel safe. Let in softness and love into the places that ache. Make space to just to stop — and feel this together.
RAGE: What is the force of rage in your body? Notice where you are constricted, tense, or numb. Now move that energy – curse, scream, shake, dance, run. Don’t choke down your rage. Or let it fester. Be with people who can honor this rage and process it in safe containers. Your rage carries information – what is it telling you? You have something to fight for. You have a role to play, and no role is too small.
FIGHT: What courageous step are you ready to take? Do not swallow the lie that nothing can be done. You have a sphere of influence. Every choice we make – every word, every action, every encounter – co-creates culture and shapes what happens next. Will you use your voice, your art, your story, your money, your power, your heart?
REIMAGINE: What is the world you want? What does beloved community look like, feel like? We can only live into what we imagine. Protect time and space to dream and dream big. Then take one step toward that dream.
LISTEN: What do you need to approach opponents with humanity? If you are safe enough, take one step toward a courageous conversation. Lead with your story, above all. Listen for theirs.
BREATHE: How will you breathe today? This is the work of a lifetime. Our lifetime. Take time to rest, step away from the news, nourish your body and your beloveds. Remember the wisdom of the midwife: Breathe, my love, then push. When joy comes, let it come. In joy, we presage the world to come.
Go deeper into any of these practices on
the Revolutionary Love Learning Hub.
A balm for the soul
When the news broke on Friday, my dear sister adrienne maree brown shared a video of her singing this sovereignty hymn by The Bengsons. My mother and I sang this song in the forest as a way to move through the pain of this moment. Listen to it. Teach it. Sing it with us. May it be a healing balm for you, too.
We will not
We will not
We will not be controlled.
I am sovereign in my body.
I am sovereign in my soul.
— The Bengsons
Donate to the Revolutionary Love Project
The Revolutionary Love Project envisions a world where love is a public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics. We generate stories, tools, and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice.
Other places to donate:
‘All gifts made by June 30 will be matched, $1‑for‑$1, up to a total of $250,000.’
National Network of Abortion Funds
‘We are desperate for someone with a plan, someone with some spirit.’
Bill McKibben, author/educator/environmentalist/activist
Love this piece from Bill. Insightful, truly compassionate, and a needed idea. No one is communicating, or helping. Because, really, there is no plan, or someone with spirit. We need more than a poem from the Speaker of the House, or a yoga pose from Democratic Rep. Andy Levin to release his ‘toxicity.’ Since deleted. More than a month after Alito’s leak, the Dems did nothing for this moment. And believe it when people say IF/WHEN R’s take the House and Senate and Presidency in 2025, McConnell will absolutely remove the filibuster to make abortion illegal across the United States. Dems wouldn’t touch the filibuster, but oh friends, McConnell absolutely will. No doubt. Women, already, who are facing difficult and life threatening pregnancies are being turned away for health care, some traveling great distances, if they can, to find treatment.
From Puck journalist Julia Ioffe:
‘It turns out that telling people to vote and vote and vote some more in a system designed for minority rule, and where gerrymandering requires the Democrats to produce bigger and bigger turnout for smaller and smaller margins in Washington, can start to ring a bit hollow. How can you vote and win—and yet still lose so badly? Through the din of rage on social media and spontaneous protest in the street, even the most dedicated Democrats could hear the unmistakable, echoing sound of defeat.’
We voted in droves in 2018 and 2020. For this? Minority rule. It’s feeling rather dire. Memes, marching, and poems don’t seem to be working. In the United States, you know what does? Power, profit, greed, systemic patriarchy, violence, and dark money.
More from Bill:
#SCOTUS did horrible things this week. ‘Amtrak Joe needs to go all-in.’ ‘Biden should announce in the 134 days between now and the Nov election he will board a train and criss cross America making the case for this republic.’ ♡
‘Suddenly he’s Harry Truman, waging an against-the-odds campaign in 1948. You know the last president to pull the presidential train car out of mothballs? A reasonably good politician named Ronald Reagan, in 1984. Amtrak Joe needs to go all-in.’ #AmtrakJoe
Link to the full article:
Joe Biden Could Save America by Going on a Train Trip
Fight for us, Mr. President. Is that too much to ask?
🤎 I love this image, especially because not only does he embody hate, I am reminded hate is born of fear and fragmentation, threading in and out of our existence on this plane. Somehow, we, this country, allowed him to be celebrated after decades of his darkness…his evil energy. May he always be a reminder for what we don’t want to be and stay diligent against these dark forces. May he be dissolved, and fade from our public platforms and consciousness. May those who supported him be awakened to his destructive energies and dark heart. May their eyes be opened. And may they want to unite with all of us to be one people, to know what is true, justified, equal…for all beings…especially the oppressed and marginalized. Let us, together, be reminded of what it means to reside in the heart of democracy and fix what has been broken since this country was born.
And then, may we heal.
From Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States:
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. And to make progress we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies.”
Alluding to scripture, he added: “This is the time to heal in America.”
From the Vice-President Elect, Kamala Harris, the first woman, a woman of color, Black and Southern Asian woman, to be elected to this office.
“Protecting our democracy takes struggle. It takes sacrifice. But there is joy in it. And there is progress. Because we, the people, have the power to build a better future.”
We The People
For those who voted, again, for the current president, please answer, ‘Why’? What did he do for you? During a pandemic? Employment? Opportunity? Fairness? Equality? Or, is it deeper? Fear? Nationalism? Culture? Bias? Concerns over race? Majorities? Disinformation? Social media platforms?
May we heal. And unite. Not half of us…all of us. We. The. People.
W.E.B. Du Bois:
Strive for that greatness of spirit that measure life not by its disappointments, but by its possibilities.
My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
The collective heart of humankind’s suffering.
The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another.
Today, we celebrate our democracy, our common humanity, and a glass ceiling shattered once and for all.
With nearly 160 million votes cast, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won a decisive victory. They received more than 75 million votes, a greater number than any ticket in history, with a remarkable breadth of support from across the nation.
And they shattered several glass ceilings—it will be a joy to watch Vice President-elect Kamala inspire generations of future leaders and active citizens!
Across the Collective, we have seen so many give so much over these past four years, using a range of tools to fight for justice, equality, and our democracy. I am thankful and full of admiration.
We now have the opportunity to work for the systemic solutions we know we need—solutions that can remake the calcified systems in our country, from immigration and education to race and reconciliation, criminal justice and climate. And it will require each of us to bring spirit of ingenuity and hard work to support and accelerate America’s rebuilding and renewal.
We will let out the breath we have been holding in for so long. As celebratory as we feel, we also know that much work lies ahead—the work of healing the wounds and repairing the breaches.
So, we will get to work, and usher in the America we know is possible.
With relief and gratitude,
Laurene, Emerson Collective
Empathy + Sympahty = Compassion
We are a progressive being.
There is nothing at a standstill in nature.
Only God is motionless for (S)He was, is and will be the same yesterday,
today and tomorrow,
and yet, is ever moving.
I will never understand how 70,000,000+ people could vote for him again. Never. Perhaps, maybe, hopefully, some will evolve to understand his destructive and immoral behaviors. He has shown us who he is for decades. Some of us (me) gave him no mind. And then, he was elected to serve. He did not serve. He lied. He divided. And he hated. Hate is born of fear. What was feared?
Perhaps, we have always been this divided, but the ugly part was given platform and verbalized. Democracy, we have learned, is not passive, but active. We can not simply turn out the vote every two, or four years.
We must edify and protect the marginalized and oppressed. The government serves us, we don’t serve it.
A true democracy is messy and necessary. And it requires ‘good trouble.’
Now, let’s work to balance the scales and bring Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock to the U.S. Senate in Georgia. The shadow president, Senator Mitch McConnell, will continue to strangle democracy and refuse to move policy forward if we do not achieve balance. Please donate or volunteer:
James Martin, SJ:
It is, and always has been, possible to speak respectfully about someone with whom you disagree. Here’s how: “Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”
Krista Tippett, journalist and author:
What is the story of “us”? How do we learn it, how do we tell it, and how to shift it, across dehumanizing divides, in enduring ways?
Padraig O’ Tuama, poet:
In all the waiting of your week — for results from elections, for different news, for finality, for certitude — the work of the past is calling for attention. A new future will only be built on courageous moments, and those are happening now, and now and now. In the waiting, we are with you, considering history, paradise and conflict, considering how these patterns of time are inviting us to new actions.
What do you notice about how you behave in times of conflict? Do you tend toward avoidance? Or compromise? Or collaboration? Or competition? Or accommodation?
This poem describes a conflict between neighbors: a tree hangs over a fence. The owners love this tree; their neighbors don’t. Somebody responds directly, somebody else avoids, a chainsaw appears. Suddenly this conflict becomes a parable for all conflicts, illustrating how deep they can go and how often they cannot be resolved with a question about what to do.
‘Conflict is not two sides, but many sides.
What is the definition of love between conflict?’
Will we learn how to listen to each other again; we are not enemies–we are merely opponents. We have more in common than we know, or perhaps, are willing to admit. .d
‘Character is destiny.’
[New York Times, Sunday, November 8th, 2020]
“Now that the campaign is over—what is the people’s will? What is our mandate? I believe it is this: Americans have called on us to marshal the forces of decency and the forces of fairness. To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.”-President Elect Joe Biden
“America, I’m honored that you have chosen me to lead our great country.
The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not.
I will keep the faith that you have placed in me.”
Congressman John Lewis, before his passing, wrote: Democracy is not a state. It is an act.’
“America’s democracy is not guaranteed.
It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it, to guard it and never take it for granted.
And protecting our democracy takes struggle.
It takes sacrifice. There is joy in it and there is progress.
Because ‘We The People’ have the power to build a better future.
And when our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America.”
“Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight.
Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.
All the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act, and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.
Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision — to see what can be unburdened by what has been — I stand on their shoulders.
But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last.
Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.
And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message:Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.
And we will applaud you every step of the way.”
I feels so good to feel this good. -dayle
“The whole world is watching.”
‘Anita Hill vows to vote for Joe Biden and will work with him on gender issues if he becomes president.’
“…it’s not just because he’s running against Donald Trump. It’s more about the survivors of gender violence. That’s really what it’s about. And if that means voting for and working with Joe Biden, then so be it.”
Anita Hill never pictured herself voting for Joe Biden.But given the political reality the nation is facing, she’s not only going to vote for Biden — she’s also willing to work with him, should he become president.
“Notwithstanding all of his limitations in the past, and the mistakes that he made in the past, notwithstanding those — at this point, between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, I think Joe Biden is the person who should be elected in November,” Hill told CNN’s Gloria Borger.
“My commitment is to finding solutions, and I am more than willing to work with him,” Hill said.
She’d like to work on issues of sexual harassment, gender violence and gender discrimination.
Hill and Biden have a troubled history dating back nearly three decades: In 1991, Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and oversaw the confirmation hearing of then-US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill was the star witness, testifying that Thomas sexually harassed her when they worked together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas denied the allegations.
Hill said those hearings permanently altered her life.
For Hill, the public declaration of a willingness to work inside government is a sea change.
“One of the impacts of 1991 was my desire not to really work with the government in any way,” Hill said. “I always said, I think I can be more effective as an outsider, as opposed to an insider. And now, I’m willing to evolve myself, to work for change inside.”
Hill insisted this is bigger than her — and bigger than Biden.
“What drives me is the people who have experienced [those issues] and the people who will be experiencing them, if we don’t do something about it,” Hill said. “That is what has opened me up to do something that I probably would not have said I would do a year ago.”
As the chairman, Biden has long defended himself against complaints that he didn’t take Hill’s allegations seriously enough, and that he didn’t step in to intervene when the hearings devolved into a circus-like atmosphere in which Hill was humiliated. The panel of all-male senators grilled her on her accusations in painful detail, and they called into question her own personal character.
“I believed her story from the very beginning,” Biden told CNN in an exclusive 90-minute interview in July. “I wish I could have protected her more. … I did get in shouting matches, as you’ll remember, with some of the witnesses who were saying things that were off the wall.”
Hill says she believes Biden lost control. But Biden maintains he did not allow his Republican colleagues to take over the hearings.
“I don’t think I did,” he said. “I wish I could have done it differently under the rules. But when it ended, I was determined to do two things. One, make sure never again would there not be women on the committee. … And I was determined to continue and finish writing and passing the Violence Against Women Act.”
Biden said he has apologized to Hill. The two spoke on the phone shortly before Biden launched his presidential campaign in April 2019.
After the call, Hill told The New York Times she would not characterize it as an apology. She still hesitates to use that word to describe it.
“An apology, to be real and sincere, has to take responsibility for harm,” Hill told CNN. That’s not what she heard when she spoke to him at the time. She wanted to hear him acknowledge the harm done to victims of sexual harassment. “He didn’t take responsibility. He didn’t hold himself accountable in any way, except that he was sorry that I felt I wasn’t treated fairly. He didn’t take ownership of his own role as chair of the committee.”
She called the conversation “unsatisfying.” After that call, Biden told ABC’s Good Morning America that he acknowledged his role as chairman in her treatment.
“As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well. I take responsibility for that,” Biden told ABC in April 2019.
Hill was listening. She now says she believes he’s evolved.
“There was a statement about ‘I take accountability; I hold myself responsible for the way the hearing was run,'” Hill said. “And so that, I think, is as close as we’ve gotten, you know, and that’s good. That’s an opening.”
And that is something Hill says she’s willing to work with.
“I want the next president to be somebody that I can go to and talk about the real issues that women, men, and non-binary people are experiencing with violence in this country, that’s directed to them because of their gender,” Hill said.
“I believe that Joe Biden would be that person. I do not believe that Donald Trump would be the person who would hear me.”