‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ (Inner calm in challenging times)

I took a deep breath and responded, “It’s okay. Everything is unfolding exactly as it will. Things are breaking and it’s hard, but things have to break to create something better. It’s uncomfortable, but the future is truly unknowable and full of possibility. More and more people are seeing that things aren’t working. And as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’” 

This very calm and genuine response, as my partner informs me about the leaked Supreme Court documents’ intention to overthrow Roe vs Wade is quite surprising to both of us.

My partner knows my emotional sensitivities. He knows my history with depression and anxiety, and knows that it’s helpful to ease me into heavy news because it can spiral me into pretty dark places.

“It’s just so frustrating. People don’t understand. This won’t stop abortion, it just makes them less safe. Women will die because of this. They don’t know what why are doing” My partner adds. He’s justifiably upset.

No. 33, Carly Swenson 2019

“That’s the point. They want women to be afraid and suffer. Wealthy people will never have to fear finding an abortion. It keeps people in place, and undermines the advancement of women–especially those of lower socioeconomic status and women of color.” I remind him. 

He hasn’t seen the hate I have. ‘Women, Get your coat hangers ready!’ A savage meme posted by a ‘good Christian’ man on Facebook reminding everyone ‘They deserve to die painfully if they want to kill their babies.’ Hate is easiest when you dehumanize your perceived enemy.

Yet, I’m not angry. I’m not sad. And I’m not spiraling. 

I would have expected me to be livid. Nearly yelling in frustration, not at my partner, but just at the world. Reiterating all the injustices women face. “This is the patriarchy trying to control women’s bodies! Pro-life people are actually just pro-birth. This is archaic antiquated misogyny and why the fuck are we not past this shit?! Why is everyone so terrified and distrustful of women? You don’t get it, honey! They are coming after us. Do you even realize how disproportionately dangerous pregnancy is for women of color? A raped 12 year is supposed to carry a child to term? If men could get pregnant I guarantee this would be here.”

No. 42, Carly Swenson 2019

But my heart rate doesn’t increase. I’m surprised by news of the leak, but not that surprised. The lingering fear that hate, misinformation, and self-righteousness would eventually sanctimonious strip away women’s healthcare rights has been confirmed. The increasing cultural division in our country, Trump’s popularity and blatant misogyny and history of sexual assault, Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court approval despite his questionable character along with the tragic passing of inspirational Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, feminists knew we were likely losing hard-fought reproductive progress. Demonized, misunderstood, and mistreated

My calm isn’t an indication that I don’t care. I’m annoyingly hardcore about women’s reproductive rights. Like, oof. When the topic comes up, I have to actively repress the temptation to go into some form of impassioned 10 min pro-choice rant, recounting the insults of the creepy old men who would hatefully yell at me when I used to escort at an abortion clinic.

So, this is not the calm, nearly optimistic response was something that neither of us would have predicted. It’s not shock. It’s just that I’m different now. 2020 broke me. And a better, more whole me grew out of that immense grief over humanity. Through my loss of faith in people, I found a deep love, faith, and acceptance of self (that is a longer, messier story for another post). Once you return to self, align with love, find your sense of purpose with authenticity, your personal awareness expands with the phenomenal infinite beauty of humanity’s amazing interconnectedness. I’m different now, and at peace with the realization that everything just is

No. 31, Carly Swenson 2019

The potential loss of Roe vs. Wade isn’t breaking me, because it already broke me. I’d accepted that I live in a world in which people in power fear women. When power structures feel threatened they act desperately. And they should feel threatened, because in so many ways love and acceptance is gaining ground. Oppression is a tool of fear. I don’t live in fear anymore, because I’d already accepted this as a possibility. Overturning Roe vs. Wade is an egregious affront against humans capable of conception, it’s a women’s health issue, and a human rights issue. But maybe this is part of a larger breaking. Maybe this is a breaking point for others to face the depth of their fears, and rise up, empowered, strong, and aligned with compassion.

If you are feeling angry, frustrated, sad, disheartened your feelings are valid. Your emotional response to these huge societal and cultural shifts are valid. Because we–as humanity continue to stumble forward through time, as we always have since we came into existence. 

And we’ve always feared ‘others’. Portions of humanity have always feared and demonized women. We are in the midst of a culture war fed by fear, political power grabs and late-stage capitalism. We are breaking apart. As a nation, as a society, as a civilization, as a planet, our seams are ripping, but these seams hold together outdated systems. 

No. 38, Carly Swenson 2019

We can’t go back. As individuals continue to grow into their personal authenticity and self-acceptance, they’ll continue to discover the freedom in living a life you love. Some people have committed wholeheartedly (even if to their own detriment) to a white cis-patriarchal l heteronormative narrative–and it’s losing power.

This fact is terrifying when you’ve bought-in so completely. Therefore, you cling to division. You restrict health options for women, you remove or avoid history that is incongruous with the narrative that best serves you, you limit vocabulary for medical professionals and educators to discuss race, gender, and sexuality. But that doesn’t make it go away. More and more people have a gay uncle, a sister who is trans, a college friend who had an abortion, a kind neighbor who is Muslim. Society is becoming more and more inclusive and accepting. We’re learning to embrace our own humanity as individuals and as a whole. Tension inevitably builds, conflicts arise. You can take our rights. But we will take them back. It might take a year or a decade, but I’m not angry, I’m motivated.

Because I know, eventually–love inevitably wins–because it can’t not win. To the core of my sense of self I know ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ So, I am doing my best to meet each day and each challenge as it comes. All we can ever really do is meet the present moment as it endlessly unfolds.

No. 43, Carly Swenson, 2019

4 responses to “‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ (Inner calm in challenging times)”

  1. I was speechless when I heard about this abortion law. Personally I am not a fan of abortion but every woman should have the choice. No one does it for fun ! I really hope it doesn’t go through !!


  2. Hi Carly , You may find this hard to believe but I’ve been awakening spiritually for some time now and not long ago I was walking my dog Tote and out of my mouth came your name .. I’m like where the hell did that come from !? Well …I went home and googled the name and there you and your art are !! I sat down and wrote a very long letter to you in which I never sent because it was lengthy in the details of my wife getting killed 3 years ago so I thought why would I bother a stranger with this . The basics of my wife’s death are she was diagnosed with a blood clot that went all the way from her ankle into her abdomen. She defied all odds and survived 5 life saving surgeries and after a month in I.C.U they deemed her healthy enough for rehabilitation and we transfered back to our home in Payson Az where she was admitted to a Care Center . Upon arrival she was due for her basic pain and anxiety medications but for some reason they wouldn’t give them to her . For 5 hours I went back and forth to the nurses station asking where my wife’s medications were while telling my wife their in their way .. I told my wife at 10 p.m that I’m going to leave but if you don’t have your medications by 10:30 call me and I’ll be back with the law. She told me not to leave her there and that she had a bad feeling about the place. I placed her phone closer to her and told her to quit worrying and to call me at 10:30 and I’ll be back with the law to figure things out. I went home and waited for a call but it never came so I assumed that everything was good and that she had gotten her medications The next morning I woke up and called to see how my wife was and I was informed that she had a terrible night and I asked them you mean you didn’t get the medication straightened out How did she make it through the night ? Without them answering I said never mind I’ll be there within the hour What she doing now ? He said sleeping. I said good don’t wake her up and tell her I’m on my way with breakfast and a shine the wheelchair up for that ride she’s been wanting. Because she was sleeping it was my cue to sleep a little bit too after 29 days and ICU I was wore out. About 45 minutes later I woke up to a phone call saying my wife was dead. I went straight to the police department and told them that my wife was either killed but she did die naturally with a long story short of it is from 10:00 p.m. and the time I left until 3:14 a.m. in the morning my wife begged and pleaded for somebody to help her for somebody to call 911 for somebody to call her husband. All documented in the care centers own words Three years later here I sit homeless All the facts of rolled in and the cause of death was mixed drug intoxication. Five times necessary doses of each drug were found in their system. One of the drugs wasn’t even prescribed to her They tell me that the combination of drugs was used shut her up. My attorneys seem to be on the take or something but I’m not big enough to know how to fight this. All three nurses deny giving my wife the drugs that killed her. There’s so many more details involved with the nurses lying to detectives and I’m not sure what is to come of this and I’m not even sure why I’m writing you. I just know that your name came out of my mouth and I’m not sure why other than I am an artist want to be and I love your art Carly. I hope for there to be an ending to this soon but somebody told me that they’re trying to wear me down so that I take nothing for compensation. Money is at least my worries when it comes to this matter. My wife and I were married 17 years 9 months and 21 days. She was taken in the most brutal fashion that anybody can think of especially living in the United States of America. Thank you for hearing my story Carly There’s much more to it but I seen that you could send out an email to all your followers and I decided what the heck I need to tell her name came out of mouth for no reason and I laughingly say that but I truly love your art .

    Have a blessed day


    Tony Dean and Tote


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