Welcome to Long Game

Me as a baby activist

This blog exists thanks to my election 2020 desperation and a book on astrology. I’m an atheist and a secular Jew, but growing up among radicals, it was always obvious to me that social change is by nature a spiritual project. I grew up watching role models, adults from all different communities, who put their communities first when they could have focused on personal gain. They knew that there was something bigger than their individual selves that was worth fighting for. They felt a connection to human beings throughout the world; a connection that gave them energy and fulfillment when the everyday work of fighting for people’s rights was more challenging than rewarding.

As a child of radicals, shaped by four generations of movements in our family’s past, I got the message early on that our connection with people, and with this bigger spiritual fight, transcends time. I grew up learning stories of my ancestors and people like them who fought for change; people who nurtured hopes that something would one day come of those struggles, even when they themselves didn’t win. It was understood in my house that this work we’re in of changing the world takes centuries. We’re in a partnership with many generations who came before us, and we’re doing work whose real, long-term rewards we won’t live to see. It’s a long game. We have to settle in.

The grassroots activist culture I got to take part in in the ‘90s, as a teenager, had that same feeling. But in my twenties, as a lot of activism moved online, I started to see little changes in Left culture. Certain dysfunctional ways that people in Left communities were already mistreating each other in person, but which had previously been the exception, became more of the norm. I had a bad feeling that if the Left kept moving in the direction of our least functional tendencies, our odds of winning weren’t good.

Over the past few years I’ve gotten to have a lot of really good conversations with younger activists about all this, but there’s a limit to how many people I get to talk to one-on-one. It felt inadequate. Then Fall 2020 rolled around. I knew I wasn’t going to get through the stress of that election season without some kind of spiritual grounding. So, like good atheists everywhere, I settled for an astrology book.

Now, I’m not an atheist by choice. It would be really great to have a reliable, benevolent deity running things. Similarly, if the stars revealed some meaningful plan for my life, I’d find that very soothing. As it is, I’m a big believer that there is meaning in everything; I just think it’s up to us to make it. But the real problem with me suspending my disbelief for election season 2020, so I could take comfort in astrology, is: I’m a Scorpio. It just doesn’t add up. I’m a happy, warm, nice person. I like people. I’m not a grudge-holding jealous secretive Machiavellian Scorpio, if such a thing really exists. This astrologer that I was holding responsible for my emotional stability through roughly January 20, 2021 was going to have an uphill battle.

Anyway, to cut to the chase, this particular astrologer happened to have a different take on Scorpios. I’m all about being a Scorpio now whether astrology works or not. On one foot, Scorpio “is deeply committed to being strategic.” I’ll spare you all the other intimidating details about how tough Scorpios are, but let’s just say: Chani Nicholas was definitely talking about me when she said, “You may not win in the moment, but you are playing the longest game known to humankind.”

Finding the right words to express something always starts gears turning in my head. This time, it unleashed the secret blogging desires I didn’t know I had. So welcome to my blog. I’m here to share my thinking on our long game as 21st century radicals, and how we keep ourselves going. As is probably obvious, I’m not big on ego. We need to laugh to keep going, and leaders especially need to be able to laugh at themselves. But I do not joke about protecting our movements’ chances of winning. A lot of you know me for my work on Jewish liberation, and I’ll get into that here, too. As I’ll explain in future posts, I think ending antisemitism is probably going to be one of the longest games there is. And like all radical projects that don’t wrap up in our lifetimes, it’s worth it.

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