Susan Ellenberg's On the Playground - by Melissa Allison

From the June 6th issue of Inside Indivisible Newsletter

I wish I were smarter.

As I sit here looking at a blank cover letter, I wish I could draw from my vast knowledge of American politics, my tons of experience in analyzing world socioeconomic and political transformations and, while I’m dreaming, I’ll throw in my deep well of wisdom grounded in the truths of the Old Testament, the gospels and other spiritual traditions.

I wish I had all of that to help us feel better after our loss in Georgia; help us understand what a daunting task we took on there and how the end results do show progress of a profound kind. I’d help us remember what we said after The Women’s March – that while the majority of Americans voted like we did, we knew had a lot of work ahead of us.

But my being smarter would not change the truth that we lost last night and that we feel demoralized again.

This morning those of us that have been caring and taking action may be questioning the effort we’re putting in, the sacrifice of our time and of our peace of mind. Should we just hang our heads, pick up our toys and go home or should we stay on this playground, minds alert and hearts open to the goodness that could arrive at any moment?

Honestly, I might be more tempted to pick up my toys had I not met Susan Ellenberg last night. Susan who? Susan Ellenberg. She’s a woman and a newcomer to the race for Santa Clara County Supervisor facing four politically established male opponents - Trust me... her playground will not be an easy one either.

Susan was our guest speaker for Indivisible last night. What I fully expected from a political candidate was to talk about themselves, about the issues they were going to fight for and maybe have a little engagement with these “oh so new” resistance people to hear what issues were important to us.

What she did instead was introduce us to the concept of Compassionate Engagement, an idea that represents six distinct ways that people can make a difference in their world. She then took us through a terrific and thorough exercise to help us define what local issues were most important to us and at what level did we really want to engage with them? All this was done with the goal of conserving our energy so we don’t burn out and leave.

In other words... she helped us instead of helping herself. So while my heart hurts, my brain does not understand the loss in Georgia and my soul is starting to wonder when will it ever see some fricking light, with Susan Ellenberg on the playground I’m just too interested in watching what could happen next to pick up my toys and go.

 -- Melissa Allison