Light in a time of darkness

painting of waterfall with haiku

“every cell awake” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. The original commissioned piece has sold, but a birthday card version is available. © Annette Makino 2016

For years, I’ve been content to live a quiet life in the woods with my family—writing, painting, soaking in the hot tub and going for long walks on the beach. In retrospect, because it seemed that the country was basically going in the right direction, I took our beautiful, messy, multicultural democracy for granted.

November’s election results were a shocking illustration that our democratic system is much more fragile than we realized. To many of us, the worst of it was not the denial of the popular vote. Not the lies, insults, and ugly revelations of the campaign. Not the Russian government’s hacking or their mysterious hold over Donald Trump. Not the FBI director’s last-minute election interference.

No, the worst was the discovery that so many of our fellow Americans—about a quarter of eligible voters—would voluntarily choose a racist, misogynistic, climate change-denying demagogue to represent us. I have to believe that Trump voters genuinely felt he was the best choice for president. But as a woman, a minority, and a child of immigrants, I struggle not to take this personally.

this deep blue state
of mind

While still grieving, I have been inspired to take action. As President Obama said in his farewell speech last week, “Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make.”

So since the election, along with hundreds of thousands of others, I have been phoning Members of Congress, writing letters, and donating to environmental and other groups.

Tomorrow, I will be walking and singing at a freedom march honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We can learn much from the civil rights movement about the power of nonviolent action over time.

And next Saturday, January 21, I will take part in the Women’s March in Eureka, CA, one of some 300 women’s marches held around the country and the world in tandem with the big one in Washington, DC.

painting of stack of books with poem

“new chapter” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a small print and is included in my 2017 calendar. © Annette Makino 2016

Political activism was not my priority for 2017—or ever. And I have hesitated to share this piece because I know not all my customers and store buyers share my politics. But the threats that our nation and our planet now face transcend all that. As Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

If there is a silver lining to the coming administration, it is that it could usher in a new era of political engagement by everyone who feels unrepresented and disrespected by our president-elect. And beyond politics, I hope the election will commit us, with “every cell awake,” to put love into action however and whenever we can.

Dr. King said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Let this time of darkness inspire us all to shine more brightly.

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Red Moon Anthology: I’m honored that the following haiku made it into dust devils: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2016, an annual collection of the best haiku of the year:

edge of the woods
some things I may not
want to know

(originally published in The Heron’s Nest, XVII:3, September 2016)

Still need a calendar? A few of my 2017 mini-calendars of art and haiku are available online ($11.99).

Art Prints: I have just listed several signed 11×14 art prints in the Makino Studios Etsy shop.

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  1. Joy Moore
    Posted January 15, 2017 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely wonderful, Annette! I feel the same as you in the aftermath of this election, and my greatest hope, like yours, is that people will participate in the grassroots movements for equality and planet-care to resist the terrible things that we already see happening in Washington DC and elsewhere. May we become a more inclusive and caring society!

    • Posted January 16, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Thanks so much, Joy! There was amazing turnout at the MLK march in Eureka today, people of all colors and ages, so I think this engagement is already starting to happen. Looking forward to the Women’s March on Saturday!

  2. Ginny Bear
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Well put. Thank you.

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