• Shawn Hosford

Three Vacation Days and One National Holiday

I start conversations everywhere whenever possible. I start them in grocery stores, on my trail walks, and more generally with random strangers in random places. I don't think people talk with one another enough — especially about big subjects and the possibilities for our future in this country. I hope many of my conversations inspire further conversations. 

Sometime in May, I was chatting with the clerk and baggers at one of my local grocery stores when another woman in line interjected information about a civil action taking place in Olympia for the next 40 days. The group she mentioned was one I had heard about when listening to Democracy Now. However, I had not heard about the current Poor People's Party National Moral Monday's Action. I could not make the first two actions, but I have been able to make it to the last four Mondays. They have been gifts of learning, loving, and fellowship. 

Each week the National Chapter has assigned a subject for all 41 states. And each week, the speakers involved are often experts in their fields. I always learn something new and am often motivated to action (or at least more conversing).

At the militarization Memorial Day Monday, we heard veterans, doctors, family members of veterans, and others speak out about the cost of war. One veteran spoke about the opportunity exchange for enlisting. This 32-year-old black man spoke about the difficulty of paying for a college education or buying a house as a person of color. He joined the military to enhance his opportunities. Once enlisted, he was indoctrinated about the enemy, the color of their skin, and who should be in his targeted kill zone. He worked in his post for eight years. As he grow older he began to understand what our military industrial complex had been asking of him. By age 32 he noted that he had sold pieces of his soul for opportunity. If he had understood what the cost would be he would have never bought in. He did things to people who looked like him that were extremely violent and irreversible. What our country asked of him, in exchange for education and opportunity, is unthinkable. 

Several weeks later I heard a brown man state, “I’m a racist.” He talked about the shadow side to privilege. He noted the creature comforts that have been manufactured by enslaved people. He connected the health of the US economy to the weighted loads on the backs of poverty-ridden counties. His honesty and words screamed out to me and the choices I have made over my lifetime. 

These are only two of the terrific speakers that have touched my life on this 4-week journey. The others supporting this action have touched my life in other ways. For example Mike, one of the participants, said something I needed to hear about my random conversations, “Shawn, it takes hearing something many times to get it to stick — you might just be the first of many.” 

I am so grateful for my three vacation days and the national holiday. 

What do you do with your vacation days? What have you learned from your civil action? Can you reconsider your racism and who you oppress? Where does privilege exist in your life and are you comfortable with that?