** Though it may seem unnecessary since this is my blog, I want to reiterate that these views are mine.**
First, thoughts from The Women’s March on January 20th, 2017. Second, what’s happened since. Third, some very important phone numbers.
The Women’s March
Feeling full of hope, yet also full of exhaustion. I’m tired of everything that is unfair, wrong and depressing. My privilege is overwhelming to the point of guilt. I feel empowered, yet paralyzed. I feel swift and strong, yet so insignificant. I sometimes wonder if there’s any point in trying to make change.
Then I remember this awe-inspiring thing called humanity. I remember that I’m a part of it. Like in a bee colony, every bee matters. I’m a worker bee and there’s lots of pollen to collect. Small granules that I’m capable and willing to pick up, to bring back to the hive. Like a hive needs individual pollen granules, humanity needs individuals making small changes of improvement.
For me, it starts with unyielding compassion. Compassion for the people I interact with everyday. Compassion for people who deserve extra love and understanding due to their genetics, their upbringing, their lack of opportunity, their bad luck. Going the extra pollen granule to give someone the benefit of the doubt.
Like the person who needs an extra quarter at the launder mat, who doesn’t speak much English, but hey, THIS IS AMERICA! Who cares if he doesn’t know English in this moment? Give him a quarter because you are both part of this thing called humanity. And the chance that he has had less privilege than you, by complete randomness, is pretty darn high. Let’s all realize that a lot of our success is due to our genes and our upbringing. Think about people’s misfortunes similarly. Often, misfortunes are actually not someone’s personal fault, but due to those random parts of each of us.
We could all exude more compassion for the randomness of humanity. If we all did our part to collect more pollen for the hive, we’d be better off. This means: stand up for those discriminated against on basis of religion, sexuality, ethnicity, wealth, or myriad other reasons; give that quarter to a fellow human; give that $50 to Planned Parenthood; buy less crap you don’t need; use less energy that emits fossil fuels; donate your time locally to those who need your pollen.
Though this should’ve been my biggest goal at the onset of the New Year, it took twenty days and the largest march in history to catalyze these thoughts and to realize now, more than ever, the importance of compassion.
Forgoing the Passive Route
I’m so grateful to be associated with a company like The North Face, who skipped the easy, passive route this weekend. The North Face told its athletes that it supported us if we wanted to march. I was planning on going already, coincidentally (or not) with my TNF teammate, sky running shredder, Hillary Allen and photographer friend Caroline Treadway. The North Face didn’t stop at just support. They posted two photos about the March on their Instagram. The photos showcased support for everything the March stood for: equality for all, climate change mitigation, women’s and minorities’ rights.
Sure, it would’ve been extremely easy for TNF to not post anything about the March. To choose a sweet ski or snowboard photo to amaze and inspire us during these winter months. But no. Those photos come the day before and the day after January 20th. On this seminal day, The North Face chose to stand for equality and for what’s right in this increasingly frightening atmosphere. The North Face chose to stand for compassion.
My take on the few comments that opposed these posts is simple: If someone wants to live in a vanilla world where climate change and discrimination against minorities and women doesn’t exist, then by all means, I encourage the search for that vanilla glazed niche of social media, and of the world in general, that shows only the passive, easy route. That’s a world that ignores important issues that affect us all.
That being said, if you’re a The North Face customer, chances are you enjoy the outdoors. Thus, that vanilla niche without conflict doesn’t actually exist. Climate change is affecting every biome, every ecological niche on the planet. This is undisputed. Public lands are at risk for being sold to private owners, preventing our access to enjoy open spaces.
The North Face isn’t afraid of making this known. That the world we live in isn’t a neutral sea of vanilla and fresh powder. Of course I, too, wish it were as simple as that. That there weren’t climate change or discrimination. That women in this country didn’t have to face the possibility of losing access to affordable birth control, Pap smears, and family planning services.
What’s Happened Since The March
To reiterate how The North Face wasn’t posting merely for dramatic effect, but out of real reason for concern, just yesterday, President Trump reinstated the Gag Rule. This is the defunding for any NGO that even mentions abortions as part of their services, this includes Planned Parenthood International. When in reality, these NGOs are primarily providing critically important reproductive health and family planning services.
It won’t stop abortion, but it will make it less safe. Experts suggest that this will result in an increase in deaths in developing countries, which currently receive care from such NGOs, due to an expected increase in unsafe abortions and lack of access to and birth control. Abortion rates are lower when access to affordable birth control is available.
This is a prime example of how women around the world are already worse off than they were last week. The world and now our country, more so than ever, are far from vanilla.
Lastly: the health of our environment. Just this morning President Trump just revived the Keystone XL pipeline and passed construction orders on the Dakota Access pipeline. Concerning Earth’s health, this is not good. It’s undisputed that these pipelines will negatively, and significantly, contribute to climate change.
We have a long, dare I say terrifying, four years ahead of us. At the very, very least we can exude infinite compassion.
Find Your Two New Favorite Phone Numbers
If you’re compelled to actively speak out, which I highly encourage you to do so, here are the phone numbers of every state’s Senators. The way approval for each Cabinet nominee (leaders of Executive Branch Departments) works is the Senate votes on each nominee and a simple majority is all it takes for approval. Thus, calling your state’s two Senators and urging them to consider each of Trump’s cabinet nominees very carefully would be doing something.
Specific to the environment, I recommend you recommend your Senator to not vote for Trump’s EPA director nominee, Scott Pruitt, who has spent much of his time as Oklahoma’s attorney general fighting the EPA over clean air and water regulations and greenhouse gas emission mitigations.
I don’t care if you’re red, blue, purple, or tie-dye, if you care about the quality of air you breath, of water you drink and whether your grandkids will get to play in ample snow, you should probably speed dial your Senators now. Leave a message if they aren’t there, or call back during office hours tomorrow.
In alphabetical order by state:
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (202) 224-4124
Richard Shelby (R-AL) (202) 224-5744
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (202) 224-6665
Dan Sullivan (R-AK) (202) 224-3004
Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (202) 224-4521
John McCain (R-AZ) (202) 224-2235
John Boozman (R-AR) (202) 224-4843
Tom Cotton (R-AR) (202) 224-2353
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (202) 224-3553
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (202) 224-3841
Michael Bennet (D-CO) (202) 224-5852
Cory Gardner (R-CO) (202) 224-5941
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (202) 224-2823
Chris Murphy (D-CT) (202) 224-4041
Tom Carper (D-DE) (202) 224-2441
Chris Coons (D-DE) (202) 224-5042
Bill Nelson (D-FL) (202) 224-5274
Marco Rubio (R-FL) (202) 224-3041
Johnny Isakson (R-GA) (202) 224-3643
David Perdue (R-GA) (202) 224-3521
Mazie Hirono (D-HI) (202) 224-6361
Brian Schatz (D-HI) (202) 224-3934
Mike Crapo (R-ID) (202) 224-6142
Jim Risch (R-ID) (202) 224-2752
Dick Durbin (D-IL) (202) 224-2152
Mark Kirk (R-IL) (202) 224-2854
Dan Coats (R-IN) (202) 224-5623
Joe Donnelly (D-IN) (202) 224-4814
Joni Ernst (R-IA) (202) 224-3254
Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (202) 224-3744
Jerry Moran (R-KS) (202) 224-6521
Pat Roberts (R-KS) (202) 224-4774
Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (202) 224-2541
Rand Paul (R-KY) (202) 224-4343
Bill Cassidy (R-LA) (202) 224-5824
Dave Vitter (R-LA) (202) 224-4623
Susan Collins (R-ME) (202) 224-2523
Angus King (I-ME) (202) 224-5344
Ben Cardin (D-MD) (202) 224-4524
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) (202) 224-4654
Ed Markey (D-MA) (202) 224-2742
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (202) 224-4543
Gary Peters (D-MI) (202) 224-6221
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (202) 224-4822
Al Franken (D-MN) (202) 224-5641
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) (202) 224-3244
Thad Cochran (R-MS) (202) 224-5054
Roger Wicker (R-MS) (202) 224-6253
Roy Blunt (R-MO) (202) 224-5721
Claire McCaskill (D-MO) (202) 224-6154
Steve Daines (R-MT) (202) 224-2651
Jon Tester (D-MT) (202) 224-2644
Deb Fischer (R-NE) (202) 224-6551
Ben Sasse (R-NE) (202) 224-4224
Dean Heller (R-NV) (202) 224-6244
Harry Reid (D-NV) (202) 224-3542
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) (202) 224-3324
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) (202) 224-2841
Cory Booker (D-NJ) (202) 224-3224
Bob Menendez (D-NJ) (202) 224-4744
Martin Heinrich (D-NM) (202) 224-5521
Tom Udall (D-NM) (202) 224-6621
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (202) 224-4451
Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (202) 224-6542
Richard Burr (R-NC) (202) 224-3154
Thom Tillis (R-NC) (202) 224-6342
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) (202) 224-2043
John Hoeven (R-ND) (202) 224-2551
Sherrod Brown (D-OH) (202) 224-2315
Rob Portman (R-OH) (202) 224-3353
Jim Inhofe (R-OK) (202) 224-4721
James Lankford (R-OK) (202) 224-5754
Jeff Merkley (D-OR) (202) 224-3753
Ron Wyden (D-OR) (202) 224-5244
Bob Casey (D-PA) (202) 224-6324
Pat Toomey (R-PA) (202) 224-4254
Jack Reed (D-RI) (202) 224-4642
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) (202) 224-2921
Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (202) 224-5972
Tim Scott (R-SC) (202) 224-6121
Mike Rounds (R-SD) (202) 224-5842
John Thune (R-SD) (202) 224-2321
Lamar Alexander (R-TN) (202) 224-4944
Bob Corker (R-TN) (202) 224-3344
John Cornyn (R-TX) (202) 224-2934
Ted Cruz (R-TX) (202) 224-5922
Orrin Hatch (R-UT) (202) 224-5251
Mike Lee (R-UT) (202) 224-5444
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (202) 224-4242
Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (202) 224-5141
Tim Kaine (D-VA) (202) 224-4024
Mark Warner (D-VA) (202) 224-2023
Maria Cantwell (D-WA) (202) 224-3441
Patty Murray (D-WA) (202) 224-2621
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) (202) 224-6472
Joe Manchin (D-WV) (202) 224-3954
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) (202) 224-5653
Ron Johnson (R-WI) (202) 224-5323
John Barrasso (R-WY) (202) 224-6441
Mike Enzi (R-WY) (202) 224-3424