Words of wisdom during trying times of discouragement… It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the monumental changes occurring politically at this moment. It’s also common to feel a sense of helplessness and disempowerment. The philosophy of associative or sympathetic magick says that even small acts done with intention can have a big effect on our environment. Science tells us this also—for example, our individual consumption and use of fossil fuels impacts the entire Earth; a littered plastic bottle—made from fossil fuels—takes up a vast amount of landfill space when millions of other people contribute their own empty bottles; that plastic bottle leaches PCBs into the groundwater affecting clean drinking water and wreaking havoc on the health of individuals; that plastic bottle won’t completely decompose for millions of years… See what one little plastic bottle can do?
My point is not to point out the deliterious effects of plastics on our environment—although it seems like a prudent analogy when Trump’s administration has already imposed a freeze on all grants and contracts by the Environmental Protection Agency and placed a gag order on all employees and federal workers of the EPA, restricting them from public communication including news releases, tweets, and public policy pronouncements…
Rather, my point is sort of the opposite… be like the plastic bottle. One plastic bottle doesn’t seem like a lot relative to the overwhelming horrors were witnessing from the Trump administration. But tiny actions en masse can make a big difference. Be like the plastic bottle and slowly poison the Trump administration with a zillion molecular carcinogens of virtuous intent.
Don’t feel alone; there are a lot of us plastic bottles out here trying to do our part with our own molecular undergirding… Attending your local Women’s March on January 21st in solidarity against Donald Trump’s populist, plutocratic, and possibly authoritarian agenda was a fantastic beginning. Continuing to contact your elected representatives, continuing to speak out, supporting the most vulnerable groups and individuals,… knitting… nothing is too small to be effective.
If you still don’t feel effective, try learning a new skill that will empower you… Take a course in public speaking; join your local Democratic party board or committee; learn how to knit at your local yarn store…
Sister Simone Campbell, SSS has served as Executive Director of NETWORK—an advocacy organization for justice inspired by Catholic sisters in the progressive spirit of Vatican II—since 2004. She is a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare. Around the country, she is a noted speaker and educator on these public policy issues.
During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote the famous “nuns’ letter” supporting the reform bill and got 59 leaders of Catholic Sisters to sign on. This action was cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act. She was thanked by President Obama and invited to the ceremony celebrating its being signed into law.
In 2012, she was also instrumental in organizing the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose the “Ryan Budget” approved by the House of Representatives. This budget would have decimated programs meant to help people in need. “Nuns on the Bus” received an avalanche of attention across the nation from religious communities, elected officials and the media.
She has led five cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” trips, focused on economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, and voter turnout.
Simone has often been featured in the national and international media, including appearances on 60 Minutes, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
She has received numerous awards, including a “Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award” and the “Defender of Democracy Award” from the international Parliamentarians for Global Action. In addition, she has been the keynote or featured speaker at numerous large gatherings, including the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Prior to coming to NETWORK, Simone served as the Executive Director of JERICHO, the California interfaith public policy organization that works like NETWORK to protect the interests of people living in poverty. Simone also participated in a delegation of religious leaders to Iraq in December 2002, just prior to the war, and was later (while at NETWORK) part of a Catholic Relief Services delegation to Lebanon and Syria to study the Iraqi refugee situation there.
Before JERICHO, Simone served as the general director of her religious community, the Sisters of Social Service. She was the leader of her Sisters in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan and the Philippines.
In 1978, Simone founded and served for 18 years as the lead attorney for the Community Law Center in Oakland, California. She served the family law and probate needs of the working poor people of her county.
She is also the author of A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community, published in April 2014 by HarperCollins.