David Brooks in The Second Mountain talks about the four major commitments in life that lead to a good life. The fourth one is commitment to community. Lately my commitments to projects making Eau Claire more accessible to all have left me weary.

I’ve lived long enough to know that you don’t just ask a bureaucracy to change something and they jump to it. Meetings get set and put off. Committees are set up to see if change is really necessary. People get offended no matter how nicely you ask for change. I’m not being specific because I know this problem is universal. A friend came over this week to get tea and empathy about the same mountain, just a different face of it.

I reminded her about Martin Luther King’s arc bending toward justice and reminded myself “We Shall Overcome” said “someday”; it didn’t say today. Then I pulled up an old favorite, Saul Alinsky and read about his thirteen tactics for realistic radicals from Rules for Radicals.

Some of Alinsky’s points include:

Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have. Go outside the experience of the enemy. The threat is more powerful than the thing itself. Constant pressure sustains action. Have a realistic solution in mind. Keep clear about who’s the target of the action.

This personalizing a target makes sense, but makes me squirm. No leader is all bad and they didn’t create the problem themselves. Can I still win if I don’t fight all out?

Just in time to lift me up, funny about how that happens, I read two books that inspired me in their own ways. Becoming by Michelle Obama showed me a beautiful woman who struggles with some of the same issues I do but remains optimistic about the nation even in 2018. A Gentleman in Moscow by Towels although it’s a novel deals very thoughtfully with how to go deep when circumstances confine you.

Then I happened on NPR’s American anthems selection for inspiration, “This Little Light of Mine” and “The Times They Are A-changin’” call to me most, but you might have other soundtracks that keep you climbing. Jen Hoffmann’s weekly change advocacy newsletter also reminded me

“For it’s in community that we persevere, and together we create a better, brighter future.”

Let’s keep climbing!