"Power is never absolute. There is always resistance."
The Power Manual, How to Master Complex Power Dynamics, Cyndi Suarez, 2018
Many of us are feeling overwhelmed by compounding crises.
The recent mass shootings are deeply disturbing. Not only because of the loss of life, but also because they break an unspoken social contract. Children should be safe going to school; people should be safe going to the grocery store. As these shootings occur with increasing frequency, we have become numb. We may assuage our outrage or suppress our fear because the victims are usually those people: of color, ethnic, or religious minorities. The July 4th parade shooting may have shattered the numbness; it was an assault on people expressing their patriotism. Ultimately, it was an assault on our collective patriotism.
The recent Supreme Court rulings feel like a slap in the face. Supposedly, the main justifications for these rulings was a reliance on the Constitution. If a law, policy, or practice wasn’t included in the document written in the late 1700s by white men—many of them slave owners—then it shouldn’t be allowed to stand. By that logic, only ball and musket guns should be allowed, women shouldn’t be allowed to vote or own property, and African Americans shouldn’t have any rights.
The founding fathers were entitled white men and they never imagined a time when they would have to share power or control. Understanding the fear of losing power and control is behind the recent rulings and the mass shootings helps us build context.
For example, the elimination of federal protections for reproductive rights is an attempt to slow demographic change and maintain a permanent underclass. We must keep in mind, the wealth of the United States was a direct result of stolen lands and stolen bodies. Slavery was an economic proposition with no regard for the humanity of millions of individuals who were dehumanized and commoditized. Jim Crow laws were an attempt to maintain this economic advantage post civil war by allowing states to maintain slavery, by calling it something else. Even without the Jim Crow laws, the economic disparity has persisted through limited opportunities for advancement or building wealth.
Covid upended the status quo. Essential workers were most often those at the bottom end of the pay scale. With work disruption, many people chose not to, or could not return. Salaries rose in an attempt to compete for workers. Good for people, but bad for business’ bottom line. To increase the supply of cheap labor, more people who are willing to work for less than a living wage are needed. Something is preferable to nothing when you are desperate.
Eliminating reproductive choice is another way to control bodies. Forcing individuals to carry pregnancies to term will increase economic hardship for many families. This situation perpetuates an underclass and is the unspoken point to the recent ruling. While some will be forced by circumstance (and the recent ruling) to become the underclass, it will allow others to maintain power and control–and economic advantage.
The only guidance we are given is to vote in November. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the actions being taken to skew the elections so that a minority continues to maintain power and control.
The odds seem stacked against us, but take heart. We have many things in our favor here in New Mexico. We have access to reproductive care, we have safe and secure elections and we have an innovative and compassionate nonprofit sector… for now.
We are the beacons of hope and our organizations work against the odds every day!
Don’t deny your feelings, but don’t be paralyzed by them. If you need inspiration, search for stories of resistance. The most radical act we can do at this moment is to recognize and honor humanity in others. Be compassionate, be kind, and be a badass.