A Crossroads in Politics
All politics is local, and even wedding planning has its connections to politics. As do nonprofit galas, certainly, and corporate events. While it may be seen as "unprofessional" or "off-brand" by some to discuss politics in an event designer's blog, I am unapologetically me! I am and have been friends with many people whose views don't match mine, and what held us together was mutual respect. I trust, then, that this is possible here. If not, well, I suppose we're just not each other's cup of tea and that's okay.
As background to this post, I read something on Facebook that I felt needed editing to be more kind and understanding. Perhaps it is a popular thread people have forwarded, so you might recognize the foundation of the text that I changed.
I never dreamed that I would consider leaving my home, in the United States of America, out of a desire to flee what it has become. This doesn't feel like the country I have known all my life. I have seen the world, visited and lived in other places, but always returned home to the States. It's not a perfect country, but I accept its flaws and worked to improve what I could, especially knowing that there are other places in the world where citizens cannot speak out or act out.
But today I woke up and, as I had my morning coffee, I realized that everything is about to change. We are on the precipice of what could truly alter American history. Our country has been rocked by divisive politics, class warfare, racism, and a horribly tragic pandemic without a leader to guide us all towards health and unity. We are at this pivotal point where we can continue down the chaotic lane hacked open reactively by officials who want to restrict who is allowed to join them (at least towards any modicum of prosperity, reserved for the few). Or, we can turn away from where we've been for the last few years, and make our way up the hill along the path cut into the granite. The way looks hard, steep, and it is at times covered by fallen stones the size of peas all the way up to cart-sized boulders. But we have ropes, and we can guide each other to climb the mountain safely and swiftly. We can wait for the slower folks, those who have never looked down from such heights, or who worry about wind knocking them down, and we can sit with the tired until they're ready to walk up a bit more. This path that is so steep but will be most rewarding is that mountaintop of courage, compassion, and equity. Getting to the top doesn't depend upon a single vote, but all our votes. The summit isn't found by following a single candidate, but by voting for those who want us all to succeed AND by taking action ourselves, to help each other. If we rely on politicians alone, we are just following a single point of light instead of a string of guide points.
Yes, it is critical to vote. That is our privilege as Americans. It's our civic *duty* and our responsibility to protect everyone's right to vote, even if we know they'd follow a different path. Even if they don't look like us and don't live the way we do. We don't know for sure that the trek up the mountain is going to be faster or safer or better than that other path, through the woods. We know, though, that we are proud when we can help others get to the summit with us. There's a candidate for President who will take people on the rough path through the woods if they dislike and distrust the same people he hates. Or there's a candidate who might not even be the one you preferred, but who'll have a plan to get everyone to the top safely. He'll use mountaineers and geologists who know the terrain, to inform his decisions, and there'll be doctors, nurses, scientists, and helpers scattered along the way. We can trust in their expertise and experience, just as we can share our own knowledge about whatever we have studied.
Yes, I, too, have been confused by the hostility of family and friends. I look at people I have known all my life so filled with hate that they will agree with opinions that, if they were in their right minds, they would never express as their own. These people who are otherwise kind, can be seen sharing images of Black people denigrated, or poor people laughed off as "lazy" and unworthy. I'm shocked to not really know these "friends" at all; I can't recognize their hatred. It feels so foreign, like they've been given some kind of pill to release all sorts of meanness, vile racism, sexist ideas, and homophobic slurs. Where did my fellow Americans go? It's absolutely unbelievable. I think that I may well have entered the Twilight Zone...It began to be seen back in 2016, sure, but I guess it was there much earlier, being stoked by the Breitbarts before, by a distrust of science, and through bullying of intelligence. Those conspiracy theories wormed their ways into so many heads who'd rather believe that a deadly virus is a political hoax than to hey, try out wearing a mask and staying far away from others for a few weeks so 156,000+ people didn't have to perish. Who are we, when we care so little about losing so many people? About some of us losing so much? There are millions without a job, without enough food, and who might be evicted soon. Who are Americans if not people who help others? Aren't we the kind of people who fight for the underdog and won't stop until everyone passes the finish line?
Then I saw this and I think that it's pretty close to describing how I feel. It's incumbent upon each of us to speak out against injustice, and to use our voices to ensure others have the freedoms we enjoy. To do otherwise would be to act against the very democracy we claim to love. If we see others not given their freedoms of speech, of protest, of due process, are we free, too, if we do not lend them our voices, hands, and minds? Are we Americans, then?
You're welcome to be male, female, or non-binary, or other. None of that makes my gender change, and I can respect your pronouns.
The US Census is very important. It is a tool to be used for everyone's better understanding of who is in the country and how we allocate resources. It shouldn't be treated as a weapon to deter some people from responding. Most importantly, though, we all should fight for fair district drawings, so that the voters choose their representatives, not the other way around. Gerrymandering is often used to suppress the Black and BIPOC vote.
Russians influencing our elections are committing acts of war, and those in our own government who aid and abet them should be tried for High Treason, punished by death.
Protecting free and fair elections is a paramount obligation of our government officials, regardless of party. We should trust that our votes will be counted, and that we can vote without risking our health to do so.
Modern election procedures and vote by mail should be standard and funded in every county.
We need broad work to be done to reinstate trust in science and in legitimate studies. This way, our citizens will eventually understand that, for example, voter fraud is incredibly rare. Also, that masks are safe, that vaccines don't cause Autism, that climate change is real and man-made, and that everyone needs to wear a mask when in public! These simple truths should not be accessible only to those on one path up that Mountain, but by everyone.
Education is valuable. Learning about the scientific method, evolution, and reproduction are not inherently controversial topics. Our Puritanical background puts Americans at a unique place in being wary of these subjects, but we no longer have to follow the religious norms of people who settled here hundreds of years ago. Science is. You don't have to believe in it, but it helps to study it.
It is unconstitutional and therefore illegal to accept or request the aid of a foreign government or official in an election. Full stop.
Personal responsibility means we should educate ourselves about candidates and about proposed measures and local policies.
Learning about the complex and awful history of what Westerners did to African slaves -- and our despicable legal and institutional oppression of former slaves and their descendants, will shine a bright light on how the decisions made long ago have persisted into today. It's complex, and reparations aren't necessarily cash payments.
Respect for other people can carry through to policies and laws, just as it can be shown in small actions like listening to others.
College should be available to all.
Healthcare is a human right and should be available to all.
Thank goodness for vaccines!
Welcoming others is a hallmark of American culture.
If our higher education system were stronger, perhaps we could develop more of our own STEM experts.
Our definitions of gender can change and don't threaten those who disagree. It also doesn't mean that male and female disappear for those who identify as such...so wanting a female President isn't in conflict with that at all.
Crime is a complex problem and requires a complex solution.
Read "White Fragility" or " Me & White Supremacy" to educate yourself on ways we are all trained to be racist, and can become anti-racist through diligent action.
Yes, saying "All Lives Matter" is hurtful, and saying the current coronavirus disease is a Chinese virus (or some of the worse iterations) was a way to distract folks from preparing for and fighting against the disease. It has also led to violence against Asian and Asian Pacific Islanders. Using a more scientific term takes the emotion out of the term and puts the energy where it belongs: actually preventing and slowing the spread.
If you don't know something, you can always educate yourself, just be careful about trusting in pseudo science, or certain sites that don't follow stands of ethics in journalism. Skeptical reflection is healthy. Conspiracy theories are unhealthy.
It can be a struggle to make sense out of the chaos, and to remember that people are decent, generally. Giving in to rhetoric that separates people without attempting to educate them, that pits one against the other in black and white terms, and that foments hate, is not rhetoric designed to create a better country or world. It's the language of those who hope for distrust among civilians so that they can change districts, remove protections for everyday people, and give to their own sycophants without anyone noticing. While we bicker, they take. The people who want you to walk into the woods beckon with false promises of candy or a future as a millionaire. In truth, though, they prosper more from an ill, poor, and illiterate society, wherein we everyday folks do not have the voice or the willingness to stand up to fight for everyone's rights. We'd rather mimic the movie "Idiocracy" and watch wrestling while guzzling energy drinks instead of reading, listening to people more educated than us in a topic, or marching for greater rights.
"...Indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all." That sounds like a great America to fight for and to truly believe in: one that works for the justice and freedoms of everyone in her borders. A pursuit of everyone's happiness. This year's election will not be the end of the journey, but we can choose to take the High Road, to help each other along the way, to give each of us equal footing along the rocky path, and to look ahead to that Promised Land.
As always, friends, be kind out there, wear a mask, and wash your hands.