From mid-2015 to November 2019, I somehow managed to write a (usually) fairly long essay about organizing on Facebook about once a month. I started writing about standard Leftist theory, then about organizing theory, then about social-emotional dynamics more generally, and then most recently incorporating very abstract spiritual/ existential concepts as they might relate to organizing.
I haven’t written anything in the last four months. I haven’t felt inspired to.
Not that I haven’t wanted to. As I sit in my room doing nothing but textbanking/ phonebanking folks all day, I don’t think I’ve ever had this much energy in my adult life.
I think it’s just that I’ve legitimately run out of things to say about the craft of organizing — and I’ve certainly said a lot.
I spent this evening re-reading my old essays. Those concepts that used to feel deeply almost spiritual to me, so full of meaning — stuff about storytelling versus ideology, stuff about how your Why in organizing affects your social-emotional energy in conversations, stuff about how trauma interacts with organizing, etc. — feel very, very mundane to me nowadays. Those concepts feel so mundane to me that, I realize as I read my old essays, I literally don’t even think about them anymore. I’ve just fully internalized them.
It’s not just my talking about organizing that’s gotten less wordy. Even, I’m noticing, I’ve become a lot less wordy in my actual organizing too; when I talk with workers, I just *say* a lot less.
I think I’ve finally come to a place where I’m extremely, extremely at peace with my philosophy of organizing; I’ve more or less come to terms with what I know are my Deep Truths to my experience of organizing.
It’s a weird paradox for sure: organizing is inherently social. But for me organizing had always been a deeply personal exploration of the social-emotional world. I came to organizing extremely, extremely traumatized and alienated. And I think I’ve come to a place where I’ve found myself, I’ve healed quite a bit (although it’s still an ongoing process), and so as a result I don’t feel the need to talk about organizing with anyone if not, like, actively prompted.
To be frank, I think another deep reason I posted so many essays about organizing for so long was that I wanted feedback and validation. Like any pursuit, even life in general, organizing is hard, and I wanted to know that my struggle had some sort of meaning — I had to *actively* pursue the meaning in a way that could be justified to me by others.
But meaning isn’t something that can be validated or that you have to desperately chase. The operative word there is “desperately.” True meaning, I think, is something that’s sort of calm. True meaning just Is.
Despite not having manic energy around it, I still enjoy organizing. How do I put it, “unconscious meaning”(?) still feels “good,” and anyway I truly don’t know what else I would otherwise be doing with my life — but as I keep saying, it does feel a lot more mundane. I don’t get those “manic” highs anymore.
It’s just very clear to me: we have a fascist as president. Many, many people are going to die because we don’t have a social safety net in this country. Our economy and politics are designed for the rich at the expense of poor people’s lives. And we should do everything in our ability to create power for actual workers.
This pandemic, and in particular the social-political context that exists around this pandemic, is truly horrific and devastating, yet…
You know that saying? “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” To me, organizing is that saying to an extreme.
Organizing is about doing everything you can do to bring about change in this world, and as long as you are doing everything you possibly can, then you’ve got to find peace… finding that peace actually helps your organizing. And it does mean organizing becomes some sort of mundane as with anything else.
And that’s OK. I think that’s growing up. I think that’s maturing.
Being an adult is somewhat super boring.
But I think that’s what adulthood is: you find a few things that you can do in day-in, day-out, year after year after year after year, and you’re able to get through it all because whatever it is for you, it somehow gets to you way deep.
Well, that… and also because — there’s no escape in this world — you’re a worker.
That… or we organize… 😉