Courtesy Leslie Ewing

USA - Birthday Greetings from Lesley Ewing, host of ASPN's Shorewords Podcast: It's Time to Act

Lesley Ewing's Shorewords Podcast covers coastal books, literature, and adventure. Like many of us, she has been thinking about the events of the day. Get behind the mic and meet Lesley as she shares how she sees current events and how she plans to respond.

You cannot solve every problem -- just don’t be part of the problem.

Tomorrow is my birthday and it will be a day to find new opportunities, challenges and commitments. Today is my day to dispense with some baggage to make some room for the new.

For many years now, my commitment has been to the ocean – clean water and beaches; sustainable and healthy seafoods; the diversity of species that can live at ease in a part of the world I can only visit; access for everyone to the coast for the restorative nature of the water, the waves, the beach, the sounds, and the salt spray; and the stunning beauty of light reflecting off the water.

Right now, I miss the ocean and not being able to go to the beach. Given the more dire conditions faced daily by so many, this is a small complaint. I’ve had a fairly comfortable time during the pandemic. I have a government job and am still getting a paycheck. I am able to work from home with a short walk/commute to the office. I can spend my lunch hour working in the garden in my back yard or reading on the porch. Being ‘elderly’, I can go to the grocery at the less crowded times. Being an older white lady, I have not been stopped while driving or walking; I am hoping to repaint my house soon and can take photographs of other people’s houses for paint ideas without being ‘suspicious’; I support the protests but I’ve never been comfortable in large groups and fear the spread of the virus that will happen with gatherings; I don’t know how to navigate this new world yet worry that those who offer paths forward are using maps that will not work for me or worse will divide us more.

My biggest baggage for this year is ignorance and the guilt of inaction. I’m reading how to be an antiracist, have similar books in the queue and am hoping I’ll be less complicit in the perpetuation of discrimination. Several years ago, I was with Hillary Clinton when she said that all lives matter. Only when someone explained to me that white lives have always matters and the importance of black lives was drowned out by removing black lives from the statement. By reading and listening, I am trying to be more aware and less ignorant.

My other baggage is not inaction, but the guilt about it and that guilt, for me, causes paralysis. I am of the age that ‘if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem’. Right now, there are too many problems to be part of every solution. The gift I plan to give myself tomorrow and which I want to give to everyone is a new axiom, ‘you cannot solve every problem -- just don’t be part of the problem’. Tomorrow, I’m starting my new year with some hard cider or a bloody Mary, and a list of the steps I will take toward the problems that I can help solve.

Thank you for reading this.

Originally released on Facebook. Republished with the permission of the author.

See Lesley Ewing Bio in Brown Alumni Magazine, Professional Worrier, By David Menconi / May/June 2012

See also Design Night: Deep dive, talk by Dr. Lesley Ewing