Finding a vision to sustain us as activists may be found in poetry.
Welcome everyone to the DFW Chapter’s website. Just a month ago, we celebrated our third birthday as a chapter; and as one of the founding members of the chapter, I found myself filled with memories about our early days. Launching this website comes as we have grown to 100 trained Climate Leaders in the chapter and is one more indication of our maturation. Over the three years that I have served as chapter chair, I have had my share of disappointment, discouragement, and dismay as members have come and then gone; great ideas have been presented but then never acted on; or I have listened to someone’s sense of futility or hopelessness in the face of the Trump administration’s relentless rollback of fundamental environmental protections. As a clinical psychologist, I have had to remind myself over and over of the need for self-care for everyone doing this work.
One of the most important teachers in my life was the Archetypal psychologist, James Hillman. James once wrote that he thinks that we live in a “poetically underdeveloped nation” where people have lost touch with the power of poems to enliven and fortify the imagination. James wrote that the result is, “a lack of spirit, of vision. The loss in the heart appears as a loss of heart to take up the great cultural challenges that are part of (everyone’s) citizenship.” He added that he thinks of working with poetry as “a therapy of the culture at its psychic roots.” Over the 35 years of my academic career, almost all of my graduate classes began with poetry. Years, even decades later I get messages from former students about how much that has mattered to them in life.
To launch this Blog section of our website, I have come with a poem. The author is Margaret Atwood. Many of you know her as the author of The Handmaid’s Tale but may not know her as a fierce defender of life on the planet. She is also a wonderful poet. This one she titled “The Moment.”
The moment when, after many years of hard work and a long voyage you stand in the centre of your room, house, half-acre, square mile, island, country, knowing at last how you got there, and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose their soft arms from around you, the birds take back their language, the cliffs fissure and collapse, the air moves back from you like a wave and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing. You were a visitor, time after time climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. We never belonged to you. You never found us. It was always the other way round.