Ben Brooks on Minimalism

Well, not exactly, but Ben’s commentary regarding getting rid of things smacks heavily of my consistent desire for minimalism in all the facets of my life. The key here is honesty and providing yourself with a consistent, undeniable metric, as described by Ben’s sister’s clothing thinning process:

She said that each year she hangs all the hanging clothes so that they are hooked from the wrong side. She had some like system for the folded clothes as well. And then at the end of the year she donates all the clothes that have not been touched in that year — easily indicated by hangers still turned the wrong way.

I immediately turned to Lexi and asked that we do this or something similar. As it is, I will be attempting to incorporate some physical representation of disuse to all of my things. When was the last time I use this appliance? This piece of untouched tape says six months. Why do I still have this old jacket? It’s been a year since I used it and I now have a replacement. Is this room full of furniture because it has to be or because I want it to be? Look at the layer of dust on this shelf. Kidding aside, it really is a good idea.

After reading his thoughts, it became abundantly clear why he created his new storefront site. His three pile system—Keep It, Toss It, Sell It—is close to my thought of Keep It, Toss It, Donate It. Even where technology is concerned, I simply don’t have the time, energy, or interest to sell things, although I once did have this trifecta in the form of a storefront on Ebay. Either way, Ben’s words had me nodding in agreement and thankful that he has embarked on his own version of NaNoWriMo because I assume that these thoughts would have otherwise gone unwritten.


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What Are WE Doing?

I wrote a post late last week about my discomfort with staying at home. My outlets are normally work, hiking, biking, and working with people. I am privileged enough to be working from home and still be able to bike and walk around my neighborhood in safety. So damn my discomfort.

I put the post up and immediately took it down, angry with myself for posting about me, when others deserve our attention, my voice. I am here now to rectify that wrong.

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, the day church goers celebrate the introduction of the Holy Spirit into the disciples. My family has been attending my father’s church in Chicago, IL virtually during the pandemic. If you are interested in the sermon, go here. Key highlight:

And nowhere do WE need this transformation more than in the Church. The Church in America that has been silent for too long because it has been infected too long. The Church has called itself pro-life, but it has regularly supported the politics of death. The Church has been satisfied with the status quo because the status quo has served its purposes and goals. The Church that has more concern for its structures than the structural inequities in the community. The Church maintains an outward appearance of godliness and holiness, but denies its power. The Church is so focused on life in the hereafter that it cannot bother itself with life here and now. The Church has chosen comfort over honest confession and safety over the least of these, our siblings.

I was struck by the moment of silence at the beginning of the service. Cultures use moments of silence to memorialize, to commemorate, to mourn and show respect, but I don’t feel like being silent. I feel like being loud and amplifying others who have been forced for too long to be silent.

I broke my silence on Twitter; it had been almost a year. I want to use that avenue to amplify the voices of those who shouldn’t need amplification by now. In 2020, WE shouldn’t need to be having this conversation because in 2020 WE should have fixed this problem. In 2020, WE should be talking about how to rewrite the history books to better exemplify the work of all the missing voices of the civil rights movement that most white people have never heard of, an act so mundane as rewriting history books is something you do when the work is done.

I hope people have been following Bernice King during this time because she is truly wonderful in every way. She and many others have called on white people to use their voice with other white people. Note these two great examples (and my apologies that I cannot give every person a voice after this colon): Bernice King and Ava DuVernay.

These things start at home; this change starts from within. It is our responsibility white people to talk to those that agree and those that disagree. Only WE white people have the platform that might actually MOVE those racist family members to deal with their own racism, only WE white people have the position to TURN UP THE VOLUME WITH THOSE who are ignored or silenced, only WE white people have the privilege (and therefore responsibility) to stand up when others are battered down and to STAND BETWEEN THOSE WHO ARE BEATEN DOWN AND THAT WHICH THREATENS THEM.

The following are some of the tools that WE white people have to work with that you should note not everyone has: time, money, voice, vote, safety, security, strength, freedom, power, platform, citizenship, support, energy, rest, access (to health care and food, for instance), inherent—yet almost always unearned—trust.

Parents, WE have one of the hardest and most important jobs in all of this: only WE have the ability to teach our children a better way.

My six year old has more context for injustice than my wife ever did growing up in suburban America and that is the problem. My daughter (and my two sons) will grow up knowing that these systems are broken; that they are strong enough to stand in solidarity with their siblings of color against the systems of oppression that work to marginalize and destroy; that they have a responsibility to fight due to their inherited privilege purchased with blood money on the backs of those same people they will fight with and for; that WE therefore owe our siblings of color everything WE can give.

Black Lives Matter. Black People Matter.

Let’s get to work.