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Savory Sonoma by Stephanie Hiller - March 2017


Savory Sonoma by Stephanie Hiller - March 2017

Our prosperous valley town that has been promoting itself all over the world as an oasis for relaxation, wine and good food for travellers from a more hectic arena has suddenly exploded into political activity.

“I was living in a fool’s paradise,” said one woman to a group of thirty others gathered in a “Huddle” at a local home to discuss how to move forward in the wake of the inspirational Women’s March that took place in more than 600 towns and cities across the globe. Others in the room echoed her sentiment, saying they had never been politically active but now felt absolutely compelled to do something to protest the ascension of this Administration. The group named itself Sonoma Indivisible and may collaborate with another group similarly titled, Sonoma County Indivisible. Meanwhile a MoveOn chapter has been started in nearby Petaluma. Everyone was planning to attend Town Halls held by Senator Mike Thompson on February 25th. A Women’s Strike planned for International Woman’s Day March 8 may sprout similar action here.

Donald Trump has invaded our lives. He is everywhere, radiating from the television set and the computer screen, the smart phone and the I-pad, broadcasting through all media, the ultimate real life Big Brother of 1984. Life has been irrevocably altered; it is no longer possible to think of the future without a shudder, to plan one’s own day without including time for phone calls, petitions, meetings, Town Halls, and time to debrief from the stress of witnessing an Administration committed to abolishing the departments which they have been appointed to direct. 

Nowhere does the Donald get more attention than in the progressive press. A scroll through online news sources reveals headline after headline screaming of the destruction already befalling us due to executive orders announcing the policies of this new repressive regime that defies the rule of law that has held our democratic society together. Almost always, his photo is plastered above the story as if he were a hero, like Mao in days of yore. 

Resistance is necessary, but is it all we can do?

In our community, the threat of deportations is foremost.

“It Won’t Happen Here,” a statement of conscience and refusal to comply with any federal policy that tramples the human rights of minorities and women, has received widespread support in Sonoma County, and now school boards, city councils and county commissions are creating resolutions based on it. Our school district is considering a resolution to provide “safe haven” for students. Becoming a sanctuary city, a different but related proposal, is also being considered by the city council.

We’re proud of the many restaurants that closed their doors on the Day Without Mexicans. We’d like to know what vineyards are doing to protect workers.

George Lakoff spoke here January 29th at Vintage House, hosted by PraxisPeace; the daylong event was attended by 300 people. It received ample coverage in the Sonoma Index-Tribune, which has poked its head out of its conservative corner to join the voices speaking up for the people’s rights. 

Lakoff, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Science and linguistics at UC Berkeley, has written many books about language and the brain, most famously Don’t Think of an Elephant in which he argues that telling people what not to think only makes them think about it more. In an essay titled “A Minority President,” he writes, “By fighting against Trump, many protesters are just showcasing Trump, keeping him in the limelight rather than highlighting the majority’s positive moral view and viewing the problem with Trump from within the majority’s positive worldview. To effectively fight for what is right, you have to first say what is right and why.” (my italics)

Two worldviews are colliding here, writes Lakoff. Progressives want a more caring, nurturing society, while Trump and his supporters are for a “strict father” society in which “father knows best,” punishment is the appropriate price of sin, and old fashioned, allegedly Christian moral values favor white males, heterosexuals and the rich. Feminists have a word for that: it’s called patriarchy.

How do we build an effective resistance to the ominous ascension of the old patriarchal order without showcasing Trump? In a song that I love, “Brother Warrior,” Kate Wolf sang, “We are crying for a vision/ That all living things can share/ And those who care/ Are with us/ Everywhere.”

I believe we have that vision. It’s not socialism and it’s not dependent on government “handouts.” The “new age” we embraced in the 60s is still attainable. We need to articulate it for the 21st century and make it manifest, while the storm rages outside our door.