I’ve been having a hard time this week, and asking myself that again and again. At the end of my work day, at the start of each meeting, as I try to summon the motivation to get out of bed each morning. So what? Who cares?
I’ve mentioned before, and I truly believe, that I am paid to do good. I work within a large community foundation, working side by side with colleagues of every stripe to make Oregon a better, more equitable, and healthier place for all. I am shoulder to shoulder with others who share this vision and these values. Being paid to do good is a privilege and a responsibility, and one which I do not take lightly.
And still, as I watch the news roll in, hear of new discriminatory and destructive legislation, and watch with horror as our most vulnerable become targets… as I refresh my screen and watch America fall down around my ears and work to turn the volume down and get back to my projects at hand, I wonder: So what? Who cares?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can position my work, the work done by my department, organization and field to do the most good. How can we operate in a way which serves civic purposes, and keeps science, research, openness and learning alive? How we best serve those who need it most? Our work has gone from mostly theoretical, stretching as far as we can see and father, to triage. How do we change our work in response? How quickly can we do this?
As I watch the NEA, PBS, NSF fall apart, and as we all watch the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security fall in line to reinforce this administration’s illegal and un-American actions, I am filled with an overwhelming concern for our core institutions. Since November 8th, I have been thinking about how these four years will be a test of the strengths of our institutions, of our safety net and our values. I could never have anticipated that this would all happen so quickly.