This blog, from the beginning, has been a journal about change. I started writing here in the year 2000 (though some of the older Homestead archives have since been eaten, believe me, they went alllll the way back, and yes, there was an Internet then) and from the beginning, it’s been a chronicle of ∆x/∆y. Medical school. Marriage. Residency. A different residency. Parenthood. Moving to the South. Every year was something big and something new and oh hell, how are we going to do this now and the constant, underlying theme through it all was change.
At the time I kind of petered out on the blog (and know that I never really intended to step away entirely, but the slow fade just kind of…happened) part of it was that the rate of change had slowed. Things were calming down, and we were settling into our lives in a way we’d never had a chance to before. Joe and I were both attendings and in stable jobs. Our kids were getting older. We bought a home and lived in it for a while. There were days with patients and nights on call and parent teacher conferences and summer camps and carpool lanes. And while things continued to be busy, they also became shockingly normal. Calm. Maybe even a little bit boring, though I mean that in the best possible way. It just felt, though, that in this journal about change, there wasn’t much left to write about.
I don’t think I feel that way anymore. There are a lot of ways to view this post-Trump ascension world we live in now, but I don’t think I can say anymore that life ceases to change. But neither can I continue to insist that it is boring, so...there's that. I think a lot of people—regular people, normal people, people like me—have a lot of energy and a renewed sense of civic responsibility in the face of this new administration, but often if feels difficult to know where to channel all that energy, you know? What do we do now? Where do I put all this? How can I help? How do you do stuff?
Look, I’m just a dumb doctor. I do what I know how to do. I work with patients. I help people individually in sometimes big but usually small, concrete ways. I speak the language of medicine and science and research and data. My campaigns are waged at the bedside, or in the operating room. I’m not a politician. I’m not a legislator. I’m not a lobbyist. I’m not a judge. I don’t know how that world works, or the avenues into it. But I want to change that. I want to learn. Then I want to do it. And I don’t want to do it alone.
I’ve done a few things since Election Day. These are just very small things, things I know how to do, in order to chip in, help shore things up, fix things, and teach my kids how to do the same. But it’s not enough. These things are important, but they are also too small. I know it takes thousands of little drops to fill a bucket, and I want to keep on adding those drops, but I’m ready to start doing more, and I just need to figure out how. So now we’re going to start, and we’re going to do it together.
Here’s a small list of some of the things my family and I have done since November 9th. It’s not a complete list (there are probably some things I don’t quite remember, I didn’t write them down or anything), but I also didn’t talk about it much on social media either, because my instinct was always that anonymous good works are the best kinds of good works. However, now I think the need for collective action and coalition building supersedes those instincts, and also, more than ever, we deserve to know that we’re not alone on this. So, an incomplete list.
- Donated money to Planned Parenthood.
- Donated money to National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Station.
- Donated money to the National Parks Service.
- Volunteered at Hands on Atlanta making holiday gifts for veterans at the VA. (The kids helped with that one.)
- Sponsored a needy family for the holidays through Families First Atlanta—a mom, kid, and grandparents. The dad had been deported earlier in the year.
- Signed up with the Clinician Action Network.
- Signed this petition to fight the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
- Donated to the DNC.
But these are tiny actions, and not nearly enough. Lately it has been suggested to me that one means of political action is, quite simply, talking out loud. I mean, after a fashion. Via the Internet, on social media, ways in which ideas can be shared widely and communities built broadly. I know this is not a new idea at all—it's pretty much Twitter's entire modus operandi, at this point—but I never felt that it was as satisfying talking about doing stuff as actually just shutting your mouth and doing the stuff. But I think what I'm learning now is this. Sharing ideas is activism. Talking to people is activism. Starting the conversations and keeping them going is activism. And then we'll get to what comes next.
Anyway, this blog. I'm still just a doctor. This has always been a small platform focused on the minutiae of daily life, and will continue to be for as long as I can remember my Blogger password. (Hey, shut up, it's hard sometimes.) But the world is bigger than any one of us, and it's also up to us to take responsibility for all of it.
Now, to what you've all actually been interested in.
Cal is eleven now, and in the seventh grade. I know many of the people who have been following this blog since time immemorial remember when Cal was just born, and it's impossible for you to believe that he's in middle school. Don't worry, I feel exactly the same way.
Mack just turned eight a few weeks ago, and is in the second grade. He only recently stopped making a weird face every time I tried to take a picture of him. This photo was taken before that particular skill was mastered.
Nina, she will insist on telling you and everyone in earshot, is A Big Girl. She also insists on dressing herself sometimes, as you can clearly see, but has luckily tried to cut her own hair only once. She is four and a half years old, and in Pre-K.
Anyway, this is just a brief mic check, and a post it note on the wall to say...I'm here. I hope you are too. So let's start talking. Let's get to work. Let's do this thing.
Discuss: What social or political actions you and your family taken, if any, since the election, and why? I understand that we don't all have the same political leanings, and I respect those differences. I live in the South, after all, I am accustomed at this point to having smart people disagree with my political views and having it descend into a slap fight only 50% of the time. (60% tops.) But the goal is the conversation, after all. In the end, the campaign of change has to be one of hearts and minds. So let's start here.