I Belong to the Home Fires Resistance – Guest Post by Corbett Joan OToole

White text on Red background reads "I belong to the home fires resistance' guest post by Corbett Joan OToole image of a woman with short dark hair, smiling, lower part of image is yellow background with a retro looking family depicted and text reading, "Service on the Home Front"
when service on the home front is what makes the most sense for a given person

I don’t know about you but I’m tired. Bone-weary tired. And I don’t see any end in sight.

And I’m frightened. More frightened than I’ve ever been in my adult life. I’m frightened by how quickly things are changing. I’m frightened by the people in my life who don’t see that some of us have been pushed to the edge of a cliff and some of us will go over and die.

All this tiredness and all this fear has got me thinking about how we’re going to survive for the next while. I’m purposely not putting a time limit on it because I really don’t have any idea when it’s going to end or if it’s going to end.

But I know that some of us are going to survive this. And I’ve been thinking about how to help more of us survive.

I’m based in disability communities. We’ve been talking a lot about ways that people can do activism without having to go on the streets. Because for some of us it’s really not possible to be out in those crowded, loud, often cold spaces. And that’s true for lots of nondisabled people as well.

One of the grand old dames of disability rights activism is Yoshiko Dart. She’s mentored people for decades and one of them told me this story. Yoshiko said we’re all like members of one big orchestra. Some of us are loud and disruptive. Some of us are easy to listen to. Some of us are good at the reacting quickly. Some of us create smooth  transitions. Each of us by ourselves can only accomplish so much. But when we understand that we’re part of an orchestra of change, then powerful and magical things can happen.

I’m a writer so I think a lot about the power of words. I realized that those of us who are working off the streets are not easily recognized as activists. Nor is our work seen as valuable by many people.

We are the Home Fires Resistance. I’m borrowing an old phrase that captures the role of the people who stayed at home in war. They were said to be “tending the home fires”. It didn’t mean just keeping a place for the warriors to return to but it also meant figuring out how to support the warriors from home.

We see it in the people who are making phone calls and writing postcards to politicians. But many of us don’t notice those who are making phone calls and writing postcards to the street activists or to those who were slammed with fear and exhaustion.

There is power in being part of the Home Fires Resistance. I think of this as the power we’ve learned or that we’ve seen in people who stay at home and take care of others, by people who are disabled, older, and those who just prefer a home-based life.

I see these people making meals, writing notes of support, reaching out to someone who’s struggling whether they know them or not. This work often gets demeaned as “women’s work” or “not the real activist work”.

So in this orchestra, we need to remember the singers, the writers, the cooks, the folks making phone calls, they writing text messages. They provide support from home. We need to understand that Home Fires activism is just as real and just as important is street activism.

If we don’t acknowledge  people working in the Home Fires Resistance then we need to ask ourselves what are our criteria for knowing that people are activists? And why do we think that only street activism is it valid?

I may not know when or if this period of living every day with fear and exhaustion is going to end. But I absolutely know that in order to get through this, we need to be fed, listened to, and supported in many different ways.

I live my life and fight my fight as part of the Home Fires Resistance.

What are some of the ways that you participate in Home Fires Resistance?

About the Author:

Corbett Joan OToole is a disability historian, fiber artist, and author of Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History, a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Awards.

Her current work focuses on documenting disability history, particularly around violence, and offering networks between diverse disability communities.

You can reach her via email or on Facebook.

Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
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@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
SCARY. Please help by calling in: https://t.co/ClKAAMcyF3 - 17 hours ago
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2 Comments

  • Thank you for this. I’ve been reading all this horrible hateful stuff that basically said, “If you aren’t out there on the front lines doing everything, well, you don’t care enough, and it’s all your fault if things go bad.” Saying there’s a place for people like me to do what I can to help means a lot.

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