Sunday, October 7, 2018

What Future Do We Want?

Sometimes someone tells a story about themselves or an event and everyone around them reacts as if they've been judged.  "Our team is doing great work!"  Well, so is my team.  "People are being mean to me!" Wait, I'm not being mean to you.  "White people are racist", wait a second, I'm not a racist.  "Black Lives Matter!" Wait, don't all lives matter?  And so on and so on.

These past few weeks I've heard folks screaming about due process and worrying that their sons will be falsely accused of sexual assault, that past infractions could come out of the blue to take their sons down.  All of these responses obfuscate what is actually happening - they derail us with their perceived, potential victimhood from talking about real issues that in most instances are life altering, and even life threatening.  That the main issue we are arguing this week, and almost every week, is about progress.

That's right, progress.  Do we halt progress in its tracks, or do we push it forward and closer to the ideals embodied in our Constitution that we claim we are trying to live by?  At the end of the day, isn't that what American exceptionalism is all about?  Not that we've achieved everything already, but that we believe in the ideals embodied in the US Constitution, despite the fact that even as they were written down that the men doing the writing were not living up to the standard they espoused?   

I am disappointed but not surprised by the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.  His appointment, like Gorsuch's before him, sets us back decades on the road of progress.  As did the election of the man who appointed both of them.  Progress is scary to a lot of people, and so they went with not just what they knew, but what they feel serves them best.  Fear of progress is what has lead America to dismantle the New Deal, weaken environmental regulations, undercut unions and the voting rights act, prevent women from enjoying full autonomy of their persons - and not just in reproduction, but apparently daily life as well, and to embrace corporations as people with money acting as their version of free speech and silencing the rest of us.  

I am hopeful that next month's elections will bring some turnaround to all this, but I would suggest that we can no longer just vote and hope for the best.  I'm excited by the number of people participating in peaceful protests, starting with the anti-Muslim ban and showing up at airports around the country, to teachers showing up in state capitols and demanding higher pay and better resources, to the women protesting at the Senate hearings for Judge Kavanaugh.  We can no longer take for granted what we've achieved, every day we need to tend to the care and feeding of that progress to keep ourselves moving forward.  Voting is our number one duty, but following our elected representatives as they vote on important issues, writing and calling them to let them know where we stand and how we wish them to act, is also critically important.  

Remember this, no election is unimportant and every vote your elected representatives take once in office is just as important as yours on election day.  Prepare yourself for what you can do - read, listen, write, call, attend town halls, join a political club, donate to the candidates who most closely represent what you want, and vote.  Get to the polls to vote or fill out an absentee ballot.  Get your friends to do the same.  Put up yard signs, get a bumper sticker, volunteer to phone bank or write postcards for your candidate.  Get out and knock on a few doors.  Whatever you do, don't sit by yourself and lose hope.  The future is ours, we just need to demand it back.

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