Dividing to Conquer

My morning routine changed dramatically after the 20th of January. Before inauguration, I would check on snow and weather reports before rolling out of bed, plotting out fishing and skiing objectives. Now, I take a deep breath and hope I can get my eyes quickly past the accrued news alerts of the latest insults to rise out of the swamp, and direct attention to my hope in things like powder and trout streams. It is hard not to fixate on the cascading threats to science, to public land, to equality, and to so many things. It was becoming too much, but I may have found a way forward—superheroes do exist.

We are four women tossed together by answers given to roommate pairing questionnaires in 1990. On Manitou Hill in Northfield, Minnesota we established an alliance of trust, companionship, and balance. We had different personalities, passions, and pursuits but we came together in a way that made us feel invincible as a foursome. We went separate directions but find our way back to one couch, one conversation (that usually spins in many directions), and sharing one hope that we all continue to thrive.

The couch this past weekend found us huddled with smart phones. There was wincing and groaning as news alerts popped up. We, unabashedly, live up to our liberal arts roots. We came to our couch with executive order fatigue and true fears sparked by Tweet storms. Between catching up on kids, careers, dreams, and the perils of growing older, we eventually always circled back to the clouds lurking over things we hold dear. As educators, artists, scientists, nature enthusiasts, and lovers of the complexity of humanity, we felt threatened by walls, crumbling regulations, undoing of order, and trampling on rights.

Trying to fight everything at once is too daunting, but curling up in a ball and ignoring the madness is not acceptable. As the conversations rolled, we realized something. The same divide and conquer spirit we possessed in college was the route we needed to go again. Instead of a child rearing plan that involved each of us taking a set of years raising our collective children (I was to get all the babies), we could establish a fight roster. By splitting up our challenges to match strengths we can focus efforts where passions are strongest. We trust that the team has other areas covered, and any of us can push a panic button and call for help. One of us even took Russian in college, that might be handy.

My assigned cape covers public lands and the environment. I’m the outdoor enthusiast and scientist. My ski goggle tan and nickname for the weekend of “Ice Pick” led to consensus that I’m the one to be the superhero standing guard to make sure our kids and grandkids get to experience fishing, hunting, climbing, hiking, birding, archeology, and clean air outdoor days in the same ways and places that we always have. I happily take on that challenge. I would anyway, but now it is even more mine. My fellow heroines will cover education, arts, LBGTQ, equality for all, and immigration.

It is not true that we can ignore the broader picture or grow complacent.  The challenges require staying engaged, but we can let others handle pieces of the resistance. Trying to absorb all the issues and react is already wearing us down after less than three weeks. We are being beaten into submission by the onslaught. With too much to lose and far more to endure we need to be strategic.

I suggest you set up your superhero teams. Mine totally rocks, and has since 1990.

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My superhero team ready to take the world by storm in 1994.

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Still fighting for each other and what is right.

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