by the lake, through the sand, and surrounded by trees

We need intuition to take us higher and intellect to articulate that intuition.

I’ve been in the mountains of Colorado for almost two weeks now, staying in a cabin with only the views of an alpine forest. Staring up at rows of pines, each shooting straight towards a sunny sky, I feel a sense of permanence – not of myself, or even of the the trees. I feel a permanence of truth, that even as we live in chaos, that truth has always and will always exist. It’s for the intuition to experience this truth, and the duty of the intellect to put it into understanding.

I live in Chicago. In the city, there’s not much uninterrupted nature – it’s more of an afterthought to human activity. For various reasons, the city is where intellect thrives – a never ending conversation between ideas and culture. The city is momentum, putting into words, and concrete action (and concrete in general). And yet, I’m beginning to think, in times that call us to a higher realm, our taking action within the same plane that delivered us is not going to meet the demand we face.

We must rise. I’m not sure it requires a cabin in the woods or likewise (it really might), but intellectualism alone is not going to save us. We can’t argue the finer points to a dark energy that’s formed a fog over our people. Rationalism is not end-all-be-all, rationalism doesn’t win elections alone. We need a new Age of Enlightenment that embraces the importance of the spirit – because, as humans, our hearts are not entirely made of reason, equations, and if-then statements. We have to speak to being human, instead of yelling our facts and figures. To not address the spirit is to ignore the human and address a machine (input, output) that does not and has never existed within us. We have more tools than words to speak with – music, art, and mostly importantly, we can speak with the energy we emit as individuals. Cultivating our own energy and intuition is half the battle, because it’s the foundation for whatever comes from us: activism, organizing, or simply our presence alone and how we represent the progressive movement. This is where the cabin in the woods comes in to play – where a walk on the beach might be required. Intuition will raise us, and from my experience, intuition is honed by the lake, through the sand, and surrounded by trees. We must cultivate a deeper intuition in order to reach above and give the intellect something higher to work with.

“go high,” not complacent

“When they go low, we go high,” said Michelle Obama to the 2016 Democratic Convention. It was a rallying cry then, but what does this really mean for us now?

What does it really mean to “go high?” It feels like a rush of spirit to hear, but we’re left hanging – there’s no guidelines or pamphlet for what “going high” really entails. An indiscriminate giving of patience, understanding, and compassionate education has not moved the boat. For the millions of dinner table representatives of a progressive America, there’s no playbook what to focus on, what to give energy to, and mostly, how to communicate in a way that fully captures “going high” without “going complacent.”

Democrats will win in 2020 if there’s a plan we can take to our dinner tables, Facebook feeds, etc. We need to define what is not in scope to focus on as much as what is in scope. Educating a historically racist Aunt Jane at Thanksgiving when she’s never shown a single ounce of interest in seeking truth, should be out of scope – or otherwise, not worth finite emotional energy. Crafting a narrowed scope definition is not complacency – it’s strategy.

Why is a communications strategy important for every day progressives and not just those running for office? Because our every day interactions with people we know mean more than anything they watch on TV from a Democratic candidate. How we frame these conversations and the spirit we bring to them (a spirit we must consciously preserve) – over time, creates a ripple effect.

There’s just enough people hovering right on the edge of stepping onto the dance floor. How do we communicate safety, trust, and the emotional embodiment of “going high?” The answer is not to backtrack on progressive policy, but instead to understand people vote on feelings, energy, and spirit, and not policy alone. We need to rise to this understanding and, for the people on the edge, who sincerely want to live as good and just, answer for them “how does a progressive vision make me feel not only secure, but more alive, more human, and more connected to my community and the country?” We need an actionable strategy for what it means to “go high” in this political climate, in our every day lives, and our every day interactions. We need a “go high” communications pamphlet in every progressive’s back pocket.