March 04, 2017

Truth, Consequences and ART

Welcome! It's a long game and the resistance needs all of you.

Fantastic resources abound that highlight and simplify our most important daily actions. This email is to help you stay motivated and sane because we're in it for the duration.
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R3 for week 6 ending March 3, 2017

Revel (something celebratory from the past week :: to maintain a sense of accomplishment and gratitude)

Besides reveling in the fact that the “Russia situation” is no longer on the sidelines, enjoy these:

The Arizona House of Representatives killed an evil anti-protest law that would have allowed broadly sketched prosecution and punishment of protest organizers. In killing the proposed law, the House Speaker cited public outcry. Resist!

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer proposed new rules to promote ethnic diversity among Democratic Senate staff. One rule requires that at least one minority applicant must be interviewed for each opening. Included also are provisions for data collection and the publication of hiring statistics. About time. Only 7% of Senate staffers are people of color.

This is just about perfect, from Denmark but so very relevant here. “Maybe there’s more that brings us together than we think.” Yes, and maybe we just have to keep asking questions to figure it out.

Reflect (something big picture to ponder :: to keep our eyes on the prize and remember why we resist)

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech." --Benjamin Franklin

More and more evidence is surfacing of Russian interference in the election, with help from the Republican campaign. This week we learned that President Obama’s staff left a trail of intelligence breadcrumbs throughout the agencies, fearing information would otherwise be promptly buried. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the person until now leading investigations into campaign interference, met with the Russian ambassador at least twice while a campaign surrogate, something he denied during his confirmation process.

​Sessions tries to justify his deception with some truth-convoluting semantics. It doesn’t really matter; not indicating that meetings occurred was a lie of omission. The intent to mislead is very relevant. Recall that Flynn denied this too.  

It isn’t only Sessions. Several cabinet members gave false or misleading testimony during their hearings. And 45 himself lies nearly every day. The GOP has been quite hypocritically unfazed. Republicans are even still refusing investigation by a special prosecutor or select committee. What review is underway is being hampered: the House Intelligence Committee says FBI Director Comey is withholding information. Fortunately, this story has captivated the people and is not likely to be brushed aside again.

In his speech to Congress, 45 read off a few insincere platitudes against the rising tide of hate crimes across our country. He claimed the US will have “the cleanest” water and air, immediately following his order to eliminate air and water protections. He cited made-up statistics to scare people about an imaginary crime wave. He lamented murders by immigrants while ignoring the overwhelming number committed by American white supremacists. He wants the Council of Economic Advisors to nearly double its forecast for economic growth to a random figure he likes, and then to backfill remaining data to make that figure seem plausible.

We need to unmask these various forms of lies as they happen. It’s crucial to scrutinize the Administration’s actions, and not only listen to words that may someday begin to sound reasonable. Accepting 45’s lies is what brought us to this point.

“America is pivoting towards Trump, and it is only through vigilance and compassion that we can pivot back.” --Sarah Kendzior, writer

Journalism, the “fourth estate”, the outside check on our system of supposedly self-balancing government traditionally leads the effort to bring truth to light. In this climate we-the-people must also adopt a truth-keeping role, holding our representatives to a standard. Because the media is under attack.

The Administration’s
strategy has been to discredit anyone who reveals its lies: characterizing the media as “the enemy of the people”, saying it should “keep its mouth shut”, excluding reporters from press briefings, spreading false news stories and deliberately misleading reporters. This all serves to erode the public trust in the media in hopes that people will turn only to the White House for information.
These are attacks on democracy itself.

In the face of relentless repetition - in tweets, speeches, interviews, press briefings - the Administration’s lies are somehow transmuted into “disputed facts” which become “controversy” which become “claims” in a game of alternative fact Telephone. Some people are left believing the original lie.

45 and crew care neither about truth nor about things unknown. Confronted with the fallacy of his stated electoral college vote total 45 abdicated responsibility, “I was given that information.” He thinks there is nothing he doesn’t know, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” Being willfully ignorant of information and dealing in lies hinders rational and intelligent decision making, and leads to disastrous rulings such as the unconstitutional Muslim Ban.

Information coming out of the White House has been rendered unreliable. This Administration is untrustworthy and the antithesis of transparent. We can only hope this will contribute to its downfall; indeed we must work toward that end. We must resist the lies and keep holding up the truth to challenge all things this Administration says and does.


Recharge (a technique to help you energize and focus for the week ahead :: "self care" and creative resistance

“To create is to resist. To resist is to create.” --Stephane Hessel, writer

There’s a lot of interest these days in creativity, creative thinking and innovation, especially as drivers of economic prosperity. Progressive educators know that teaching with art fosters these “21st Century skills” along with many others. Arts in education also leads to improved academic performance, increased motivation and higher graduation rates.

Art therapy in healthcare and the military has expanded as patients receive the many physical and mental health benefits of art making. In particular, stress relief, reduced pain, shorter recovery times and lower medication use.

We will undoubtedly hear passionate defense of the arts as 45 seeks to eliminate national arts funding and programs and cut public school  funding. Please defend continued support for the arts and humanities. They help define our nation.

The creative process itself reduces stress-related hormones, regardless of artistic experience or ability. Making art requires mindful presence, to concentrate on details and observe progress. A focused artistic activity often leads into a state of “flow” or peaceful connection with the act of creating. Similar to meditation, slowing down to make art is a way to train attention and focus, and grow patience and persistence.

Other benefits of making art:
- It can be both soothing and gratifying. As we create things we are constantly problem solving, and that independent decision making enforces our sense of control. We get satisfaction from transforming materials into expressions of our imaginations. 
- It enhances self-awareness, a core component of emotional intelligence. We interpret what we think and feel in creating. This allows us to experience and develop curiosity, exploration and risk.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” --Thomas Merton, writer

- Working toward mastery generates confidence. Trying something new is challenging, and lets us experience humility and empathy for others.
“Whatever you do, do something else.” Claire Fontaine, artist
- It engages both sides of the brain, allowing us to notice patterns and synthesize information and knowledge across disciplines. That’s the definition of creative thinking.
- Creating is a form of play that links our imagination and the real world. Art brings us joy.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” --Albert Einstein

- It can be a form of protest, as in movement posters and graphics. Collective artistic expression can unite diverse communities and inspire social change.

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” --Bertold Brecht

Include time for creativity to manage Resistance stress. Experiment to find a medium that excites you and taps into your imagination. If you don’t know where to begin, think about what you enjoyed as a child and consider something derived from that.

“An artist is not a special sort of person; every person is a special sort of artist.” --Ken Robinson

For a quick burst of stress-relieving art making, try spending 10 - 20 minutes with one of these activities. All you need is paper, pencil and/or pen.

1. Doodle spirals. Start with a dot. Draw a very tight spiral outward from the dot. Focus on bringing each ring as close as possible to the one before. Start a new spiral if you touch the previous ring. Try spinning the next spiral in the other direction. Fill up a page.

2. Create a mandala, a circular design of patterns and symbols said to represent the universe. Or color a ready-made mandala.

- Draw a circle or trace around a plate or bowl.

- Lightly draw lines through the center of the circle to create 8 or 12 wedges.

- Draw 2-3 more circles of different sizes within your outer circle.

- Make a few photocopies so you can skip these steps next time.

- Switch to pen or fine marker and begin drawing repetitive designs around in concentric rings, working from the center outward. Use the circles and segment lines as dividers.

- Simple design elements: flower petal and leaf shapes; circles, dots and tiny bubbles; diamonds, hearts and other symbols; shapes - squares, triangles, ovals.

- Erase the pencil lines that defined the wedges.

3. Hand lettering. Choose a phrase or sentence and thoughtfully draw the letters of each word thinking of its meaning and the way it would be spoken. Write in flowy letters, or block letters, or script. Doodle around the letters. Repeat the words to form a pattern. Draw a freeform border design around the words. Fill in some areas to highlight the lettering.

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