I am starting to develop a code of notes in the margins of my readings. They are things like:
< / 3 (my hand-drawn broken heart is more split open, with a jagged v inside) blerg. blech. ouch. Plus a thousand little scribblings about what's in the text - which is itself full of underlines and double underlines and circles and boxes around concepts. There are more broken hearts than whole hearts. There are a lot more sad faces than happy faces. My readings can be sort of rough on me. Some little sort of mantras have gotten stuck in my head as I try to absorb the history of social policy and the development of the theories used in social service work: we are moving in the right direction we have come so far, we have so far yet to go every battle all at once Some of the battles are really old. And we haven't laid many of them to rest. All of the same old ideologies and assumptions that have been oppressing people for thousands of years are still around. And some of the battles feel brand new. Some of them could not even be fought if we had not won major victories in to get where we are. And I feel like I could think those battles are less important, because of these old ones that we haven't won yet. But it's not true. We had to fight other battles to get here and if we don't fight these battles now, we won't get to whatever is coming next. And so on. They rattle around: We are moving in the right direction. We have come so far, we have so far yet to go. Every battle, all at once. Maybe I'll get them tattooed. Listen. I know that this is an extended military analogy and maybe a little light on substance. It's partly a reflection of how fired up I am about this (what? everything? hard to know); but it's partly also that I'm struggling to wrap my head around the specifics. In broad strokes I think I know what I think is true, and what I care about, but when I start to look at every individual instance and decision and story, I get overwhelmed. All these concepts (and lots more like them) will need to find a place in my head: abuse and neglect of transgender youth, intimate partner violence, tenement buildings, the rise of the klan, the Chinese Expulsion Act, kids with no family who get too old for the foster system, abuse and neglect of LGBT elders in nursing homes, oppressive heteronormativity in TANF, the failures of the settlement house movement, the racism of Teddy Roosevelt. I just don't even know where to start. So I spiral out to look at the biggest, broadest picture, Universal picture. And I am comforted. And I guess probably that's how I'll get through it (social work school? practice? living in this world? All of these, I bet).