Friday, January 20, 2017
The Faith of the Caterpillar
It’s Inauguration Day in the District of Columbia. Aside from this morning’s New York Times, I’ve declared myself under news blackout until tomorrow, when I’ll attend a solidarity rally in Toronto and look online for coverage of the Women’s March in Washington.
Both Malachy McCourt and Carrie Fisher are credited with saying that resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. How can we continue to engage without sacrificing our happiness to no good end or giving into despair? By weaving connection. By keeping hope alive, as Shepard Fairey, who designed Obama’s iconic 2008 poster, has done by creating a new series of images for the dark time that began today. By defending one another’s rights and one another’s dignity. By creating local strategies for progressive change, and for resistance.
And by recognizing that when we’ve chewed through everything in sight, till our skins are taut to bursting, we may need to reach a moment of acknowledgement that more of the same will lead to nothing other than exhaustion. We may need the faith of the caterpillar that inside the cocoon, something will happen beyond anything we can ask or imagine. The cocoon itself is the faith of the caterpillar.
This is not a cute image of easy change. If you get curious from the outside about what’s going on in the cocoon, you can only wreak destruction. Open it up, and you’ll find nothing but an organic soup: the caterpillar doesn’t gradually transform into a butterly. It dissolves in an act of self-digestion.
This is no time to retreat into our own private cocoons. We need now both to go into the cocoon together and to become the cocoon for one another. We need to embrace the notion that for life to go on, we have to surrender our attachment to the strategies that have failed us, or at least run their course, but say yes to one another, from day to day and week to week. We need the faith that was shown by the Occupy Movement. We need the faith of the Freedom Riders. We need the faith of Martin Luther King. We need the faith of the antinuclear movement of the 1980s and of the Stonewall Rebellion. We need the faith that a day will come when it’s time to emerge.