At this moment in time there is little a single person in Miami OK can do to save this town from the flooding that will be coming. There is some desperation. But we have the law, we have right on our side and we have at this time a mayor who knows how to rally a town, and be the cheerleader with the simple mantra:
We have been flooded enough. We won't take it anymore.
What actually is a mantra? Think of it as our "motto" or a long slogan or nowadays we might call it our "tag" line. Over a thousand people did just that signing their name right here in Miami, OK right before the streets, our doors, our schools closed as we hunkered down to keep our heads down when COVID descended upon us. These same people still have had enough, just the thought of yet another flood brings back the fear, the defeat and the anger deeply held by a community threatened by high-water caused by nothing they had done wrong.
What if we used our own words to fight?
We've flooded enough.
We won't take it anymore.
LEAD Agency put out these signs with businesses that had been flooded, while some were carried about the community. We captured only the first thousand. No one turned us down. Because who in this town would WANT it to flood again? Who benefits? No one. We all lose. And some of us lost much more than others.
Would you like our 1000 people to come to your business? Could we sit our thousand people's signatures with you like they sat with us when we went to Riverview Park and when we sat on the park bench, the park bench now only small children can fit due to the massive amount of sediment the floods have laid in the park.
Our 1000 signatures started seeing daylight out on the front steps at the LEAD Agency. All lined up neatly with just enough space between them that our cat was able to wind both up way and down the other without jostling anyone of our friends who were still speaking out 2 years after they signed their names. Consider us on call. It is easy to fit us all on the empty front seat of my car. We can make this statement and repeat it. How else can we do it?
We could do it in a song. The song that is stuck in my head, and I hope you will forgive me for sharing it directly to yours, is Taylor Swift's Message in a Bottle. First, the chorus repeated in my head over and over again, in what has been coined as an: "earworm" or known as "stuck song syndrome."
Then only this morning, I listened to the whole song. Taylor Swifts' phrases STOOD OUT:
"I am reaching for you TERRIFIED and"
"You are the reason I can't sleep."
So in my mind I imagined the ceremony where we all stood on the banks of our precious waterways, the Neosho River and our Tar Creek and we launched our very own messages in bottles that float past us and head toward the lake and will rest up in mass along the edge of the dam, the messages all written in our own handwriting, or printed in some way on scraps of paper, allowing the people who manage the dam to know that we are frustrated, scared, angry and demanding to be cared for and respected as teammates and members of a shared watershed.
"Message in a bottle is all I can do"
"Standing here hoping it gets to you."
This symbolic action won't happen. We won't pollute our very own water with thousands of bottles, but we can imagine that moment and in seeing it, we are stronger, more confident, activists for the change we are demanding. Put yourself there. Imagine the power you feel and multiple that by the friends and neighbors and the people sitting in the vehicles passing by you. And you will become the change agents we need to get us through any disaster yet to come.
And while you are standing there, remember this Crystal Moment as your own and maybe you will be humming that tune that got stuck in your head, too.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim