Trouble is an interesting word. It derives from a thirteenth-century
French verb meaning “to stir up,” “to make cloudy,” “to disturb.” We—all
of us on Terra—live in disturbing times, mixed-up times, troubling and
turbid times. The task is to become capable, with each other in all of
our bumptious kinds, of response. Mixed-up times are overflowing with
both pain and joy—with vastly unjust patterns of pain and joy, with
unnecessary killing of ongoingness but also with necessary resurgence.
The task is to make kin in lines of inventive connection as a practice of
learning to live and die well with each other in a thick present. Our task
is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events,
as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places. In urgent
times, many of us are tempted to address trouble in terms of making
an imagined future safe, of stopping something from happening that
looms in the future, of clearing away the present and the past in order
to make futures for coming generations. Staying with the trouble does
not require such a relationship to times called the future. In fact, staying
with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing
pivot between awful or edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures,
but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of
places, times, matters, meanings.1
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