Being American Now:
Action Opportunities

Conversations at a time of darkness
about engaging and supporting
the emergence of light.

In the spirit of supporting the emergence of light at this time of darkness, here’s where we as a community are sharing what we’re learning about opportunities to make a difference.

Please check out what others have been discovering, and comment if you wish. And please share with the rest of us what you’ve been discovering.

Here’s one inspiring example:

Karim Sulayman – I trust you from Meredith Kaufman Younger on Vimeo.

24 thoughts on “Being American Now:
Action Opportunities

  1. Following up from our conversation, here are two action items we mentioned.
    For people moving into elderhood or retirement, check out and join the Conscious Elders Network at
    Rather than retiring, it’s all about re-firing and living life to the fullest.

    Coming up on January 29, 2017 is Crossing Lines in San Mateo
    An afternoon of sharing stories, creating community. For details and rsvp go to

  2. From our local Nextdoor listings:
    Roberta Gelt, The Coastside
    For those of you who want to DO something to help, please join a group started by Andy Lyshorn in Montara
    which she titled “love and Kindness Movement”. We have met twice now and the third meeting is scheduled for Jan.22nd. For more information you can go to the NextDoor thread called “Love and Kindness”.
    We are starting to gather thoughts and ideas about what we can do beyond symbolic gestures. We have representatives of each group that feels targeted post-election: Latinos, women, LGBT, Muslims. Join us!
    Original post by Emily Glines from The Coastside (78 replies):
    Documented or not racial profiling can make our neighbors feel fearful. How can I let them know I’m with you. One suggestion I heard today was to wear a “safety pin”. I plan to wear a large one….
    Nov 13 in General to 16 neighborhoods This represents the healing of the earth

  3. JOIN US IN FRONT OF A.C.T. JAN 19th at 5:30PM

    On January 19th, 2017 at 5:30PM in each time zone across the country, inspired by the tradition of leaving a “ghost light” on in a darkened theater, artists and communities – and all of us at PF – will gather outside theaters to creae a “light ” for dark times ahead, and to make or renew a pladge to stand and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Please join us!

    In San Francisco, we’ll gather outside A.C.T.’s Geary Theater at 5:15pm for a 5:30pm start on the eve of the Presidential Inauguration.


    January 19th is a moment of gathering within a larger resistance to intolerance at all levels. We aim to create brave spaces that will serve as lights in the coming years. We aim to activate a network of people across the country working to support vulnerable communities.

    Tell us who you are and what you fight for!


    Share your sign on social media using
    #ghostlightproject #allarewelcome and #bealight

    Ana here’s the Facebook event to share:

    Playwrights Foundation uses Vendini for ticketing, marketing, and box office management.

    Playwrights Foundation – 1616 16th st, Ste 350, San Francisco, CA, 94103, (415) 626-2176
    Vendini, Inc. – 660 Market Street, San Francisco, CA, 94104, 1 (800) 901-7173


    View as a web page.

  4. Social Action Education as Spiritual Practice – Lessons from Standing Rock, by Rabbi Rain Zohav

    Every time we take action, we are also educating. If we are lobbying, we are educating our legislators. If we are protesting, we are educating the public and the “powers that be”. And we are educating ourselves in how to be effective and live our values.

    In this moment, the Water Protectors at Standing Rock are a strong example of the intertwining of education, action, and spiritual practice. I was privileged to be able to answer the call of Chief Looking Horse for clergy to come to Standing Rock to pray and be in solidarity with the water protectors on Sunday, Dec. 4. This is perhaps the first lesson for allies to any cause: Listen and wait to be invited if you are supporting groups whose oppression you do not share. In the Jewish tradition, our central prayer, the Sh’ma, is all about listening. Listening to the Divine who is One: transcendent, immanent and reflected in the face of every human being.

    Before leaving, I read the Seven Lakota Values of the Oceti Sakown camp: Prayer. Respect. Compassion. Honesty. Generosity. Humility. Wisdom. See full explanations of these here.

    While at the camp, I tried to keep the principle of being “in a constant state of Prayer and Ceremony” in mind at all times. This is one way to actualize social action as spiritual practice: by bringing a prayerful spirit to your action, creating and participating in ceremony as you go. I experienced this at Oceti Sakowin Camp almost continuously. The sacred fire was kept burning, which reminded me of the ner tamid – the eternal light – that was kept burning in our Temple and is lit above the ark that holds the Torah scrolls in our synagogues.

    Living up to communal values is another way to practice social action as a spiritual practice, and the water protectors are embodying their values constantly. Respect, especially for elders, was like nothing I have ever experienced. From the moment I got out of my car, white hair quite visible, people ran to help. They helped us carry the food and water we had brought, they helped me navigate the flowing mud that had melted the ice on the dirt road, they helped me on the snow that was full of sinkholes where we walked, and they helped us back out when it was time to leave. By my second day at the camp, I had learned that I could simply put out my hand and someone would take it on the mud or ice.

    This kind of respect, that embodies generosity and compassion, was also evident throughout the camp. There were eight communal kitchens operating; full of food donated by people near and far and kept open for warm(er) communal sleeping places at night. Folks wandered through the camps offering food: apples, protein bars, Latin American sweets all the way from Cleveland. No one took if they didn’t need and those of us who were only there for a short time were asked to give more than we took.

    I believe that all of our spiritual traditions, including the secular traditions that motivate so many in social justice movements, emphasize sharing of resources. At Standing Rock, this value was lived.

    Humility was also thankfully evident in the interfaith service I took part in while there. All of the allies spoke briefly, giving the Native Americans the vast majority of “air time”. It became apparent that part of our work there was once again to listen, to witness, and to hold the sacred space. This is spiritual social action in practice.

    The wisdom of the Native American elders was also evident when they asked us not to march to the bridge, but rather to continue praying and to encircle the camp with our bodies in prayer. And the clergy attempted to do this, although the camp was huge. For several hours we held the space. And then we heard a great shout go up from the area of the sacred fire and went to see what had happened. And we heard the good news that the Army Corp of Engineers had denied the easement.

    And we let ourselves rejoice. Another important part of spiritual social action education: celebrating victories, even if only of a momentary win, not the entire agenda. I can’t ever remember in my long history of social action, being at a protest and hearing right then of a win. This is a moment that will stay with me forever in deepest gratitude. The closest feeling might be hearing of a candidate that I supported winning and being at the celebration. Even though we knew that the oil company would not simply give up and go away, we allowed ourselves a moment of joy, tears and prayer.

  5. I really like this piece by David Abram:

    “Dear friends and allies,
    Abundant blessings to you all from the holy dark of the year. I am always reluctant to invite back the sun too hastily, since I love to linger in the luscious darkness, in the silence and solitude of the spacious night. So many quiet beings begin to be felt only when the blare and blaze of day slackens for a while, and night extends the soft shadow of its wings over more and more of our waking hours. So… Linger deep, my allies, and enjoy the vast and sheltering expanse of the fruitful darkness! Soon enough, the big work will call us back to our daylit efforts to safeguard civility and compassion as our world slides ever more rapidly toward fearfulness, scapegoating and greed.
    For all the dismal signs regarding the year now slowly opening in front of us, there are some beautiful ones as well. Who knows: perhaps the growing untrustworthiness (and blatant dishonesty) of digital media, as well as its susceptibility to hacking and manipulation by malicious operators, along with the overt ugliness of so much of our public discourse as conducted over the airwaves and the digital ether these last several months — will prompt some of us to accord much more effort, attention, and value, to the space of our direct face-to-face and face-to-place engagements with other persons and creatures in the forgotten world of our flesh and blood lives.
    To be sure, the collective strife and the shattering losses of the era now upon us has already prompted many persons of good heart to withdraw from the vulnerability of direct, bodily experience — to abandon their creaturely senses and to spend more and more time in electronically mediated and virtual spaces. Yet I’m convinced that it’s only by honing our rapport with the ground underfoot that we can replenish and strengthen our humanity. Only by expanding our felt solidarity with the other bodies that surround — with other humans in their anguish (and sometimes their joy), but also with the other animals striving to go about their lives in a suddenly warming world, with the dwindling forests and the surging rivers and the breathing earth itself — only thus can we really ease and transform, in a lasting way, the intensifying social fractures and the fear-driven meanness of this time. For it seems to me that we are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.”

  6. One thing to do: write! Express yourself!
    Here’s a poem by Michael Mauldin:

    Dr Seuss hangover

    On election day we flew coast to coast
    enjoying the view we offered a toast
    that all the rancor and fuss would soon be done
    little did we know what had just begun.

    We went early to bed with hardly a care
    and woke up in the morn with such a scare.
    It seemed unreal it made no sense
    a tRump was in charge with a guy named Pence.

    We must be dreaming I heard a loud moan
    is this what they call “the twilight zone?”
    We shouted we cried ‘stop this action’,
    but it was no use there was no satisfaction.

    It was in the late fall of that terrible year
    when people and beasts shed many a tear.
    Trees and the plants seemed to stop growing
    and all thru the land one heard much groaning.

    The birds and the bees where driven to their knees
    saying could something be done could there be a reprieve?
    Each day went by the bad dream would not end
    we realized the world had gone around the bend.

    Some hid in their homes cursing their bad luck
    while others pissed and muttered “what the fuck.”
    Life isn’t fair and sometimes quite mean
    now life seemed worth less than a pinto bean.

    Time marched on, that cruel master of fate
    as all the kingdom wondered what changes to await.
    So tRump gave tweets this way and that
    which made no sense no matter where you sat.

    Yet his words and deeds filled the air with perplex
    and the majority wondered what would come next?
    From the tower tRump formed his motley court
    and told all to “not worry” and words of that sort.

    The warmth had left the land all seemed so dire
    as pollution got thicker and walls got higher.
    All creatures began to wonder with deep chagrin
    if the world itself would ever be great again.
    Some wait and pray and hope for a new day
    while others work hard to change the way,
    for there was no joy in just sulking around
    to make change happen you need boots on the ground.

    Boots on the ground and speak truth to power
    there’s no other choice from hour to hour.
    There’s more at stake than our one land
    the whole world is watching and can’t understand.

    To wait for change is not the best plan.
    To make change happen will take the whole clan
    to push and pull with all our might
    to move this ship of state away from the right.

    The middle path is surely the way
    but it will take great focus day after day.
    Take heart and be certain, be not afraid
    most people around will join the crusade.

    The time for action is upon us now,
    we are going to wake up we must somehow.
    The future is near don’t make the mistake
    of putting off today what steps to take.
    But don’t fall for that axiom “us versus them,”
    for we all are in this together, the only way to win.

    mgmauldin 11/2016

  7. A friend just sent me a holiday card where her To Do List was marked up with changes such as: Buy Presents changed to Be Present
    Wrap gifts becomes Wrap friends in a hug
    Send Gifts — send peace
    Shop for food — donate food
    See the lights — be the light
    Mostly, I think using this season as an opportunity to donate in the name of friends and family is a great NEW tradition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *