You are a cherished member of N2N’s community. In times like these, it’s important to be in community, even if virtually. This, then, is the purpose of this love letter to you.
First and foremost: How are you? How are your loved ones? How are you making meaning of the COVID-19 crisis? I truly mean to know! (See P.S. below).
Second: I want to reassure you that at N2N we have taken all the precautions that we are being urged to take, including “social distancing”, which instead, we are choosing to call physical distancing. I think the distinction is crucial in these times. And Invite you to join us in making this distinction.
At N2N, where we thrive on the streets, at the doors, face-to-face, and where we feel our collective power in community gatherings, assemblies and in protest, we are using our core value of Imagination to retool our organizing tactics. We are realizing that this situation is actually good for us in order to change, evolve and expand our organizing tool kit!
Third: I wanted to share with you the silver linings, the hope and the possibility of a brand new world emerging from our current crisis.
These days when I have to stay put in my little abode, my Imagination takes flight and alights in the near future, when the pandemic is contained, whenever that will be. And I ask:
“To what kind of world will we return? How will it have changed? Who will we be? How will we have changed, individually and collectively?“
Because you are a member of the N2N community, I know that I don’t need to tell you about how our current crisis is showing how profoundly interconnected we are, yet how delicate and vulnerable these connections are. I know you see this.
I also know that I don’t need to tell you that for all the reports of a “booming” economy, the economy, really, has been working only for the very, very few. You have known this and what you have known is being shown clearly as we both see the disproportionate impacts on contingent, part-time workers with no job security, much less health care. Finally, I know that I don’t need to tell you how decades of steady cuts and slashes to our safety net have left way too many among us unprotected and vulnerable.
Yet, don’t you think, as I do, that once the pandemic is contained there will be no kind of “normal” to which we return? Our economy will surely be in shambles. Who will be bailed out? Who will be left out?
COVID-19 is but a harbinger of other threats and crises to come, especially in the face of climate change. What will be the public policies that our government at the local, state and federal level as well as governments throughout the world will impose as a result?
What the near future and beyond looks like is in our hands to shape. And it starts now.
I see it happening, right now. And it’s up to us to build on the Solidarity seeds being planted through mutual aid networks cropping up everywhere. It’s up to us to build on the Power now happening that clamors for immediate protection for working families through expanded paid sick leave and moratoriums on evictions.
What will it take to build on these efforts happening now going forward?
I am not talking about the love that comes in pink hearts and courtesy of Cupid.
I am talking about the love that reaches out towards the light; the kind that spears through fear, inertia, paralysis, indifference, and impotence. I am talking about the kind of love that is willing to let go of that which no longer serves us in order to grow and evolve.
The time is now to love in this way and as hard as we are able to muster.
For me, who normally hates to use the phone to connect with people, I have broken through my own social isolation by reaching out to friends and family on the phone. I took the cue from my own neighbor who texted me saying he had my back. Since then, we have built a mutually trusting and supportive relationship I did not think possible, though we’ve been neighbors for over four years. The rewards have been tremendous.
In these times of staying home, we have a golden opportunity to look deep within and take a critical look at our world, and ready ourselves to let go of all that no longer serves us and the world:
-Let go of an extractive, exploitative economy that feeds on gross inequity and environmental degradation, all in service of the bottom line
-Let go of an economy that drives frenzied consumerism that never succeeds in filling the void in our hearts and souls, yet litters and pollutes our oceans, water sources, and the very air we breathe.
The time is now to re-Imagine our economy, one fundamentally and solidly founded in Solidarity, where we understand, as we do at N2N, that “we are well if you are well.”
See it with me and,
-Center people of color, immigrants, trans and queer folks, the poor and working-class, because to lift all boats, we start with those at the margins, not with those at the top
-Embrace and love our Planet, knowing that we are of the Earth and to the Earth, we eventually return
Such an economy would:
-Have a tax code where we all pitch in according to our means; all paying our fair share and using the revenue in service of the common good: health care, education, infrastructure, public transit, libraries, and yes, science, research, and the arts, and so many more things to take care of ourselves and each other and ennoble our human spirit
-Move production and consumption of goods and services to the local level through worker-owned cooperatives that share power, decision-making, and profits
-Democratize and “green” our energy system through micro-grids that run on community-owned solar energy
-Deepen democracy from the ground up and in every single space we occupy
And so much more that I can’t even see. Which is why I need you.
All of us at N2N and the communities we organize need you, now more than ever. Even in times of “social distancing”, we can certainly be connected in Love, Imagination, Solidarity, Abundance, and Power.
The new world you and I have claimed IS possible and within our grasp. Right Now.
And it will not happen without Love. We are at a crossroads. It is up to us to choose the right path. And to choose wisely it will take all of the Love we can muster to grow, evolve, and be better than we have ever been before.
With Love and Gratitude,
Maria Elena Letona
P.S. As you know, at N2N we have reaffirmed time and again, community as the antidote to fear, alienation, exclusion, and isolation. We have reaffirmed that community is the ultimate form of resistance against an economic system intent on enshrining individualism and profits over people and the planet. We have reaffirmed community as the only way to transform systems of oppression that keep us divided and isolated from each other. Please email me or call me! I would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org; 617-997-7503.