I’m going to honest- yesterday was tough. I am typically not a political person, but I have been shaken to my core and feel called to do something to stand up for what I believe in. I can’t sit on the sidelines this time around- there is too much at stake for so many. It goes far beyond a Republican/ Democratic issue; I have lived under Republican presidents many years during my lifetime- I have no problem with that. I may not have agreed with their policies, but never before have I felt such dread in my heart- nor have I seen this country that I love so bitterly divided with no relief in sight. Instead of the words of unity and peace that we desperately needed, yesterday brought yet more arrogant words of exclusion and division. There have already been promises to completely cut the National Endowments of the Arts and Humanities, and within minutes of his taking office, Climate Change, Disabilities and LGBT Rights in the Workplace were removed from the White House website. Many other sweeping changes have been promised that will rock the lives of countless Americans in ways we can’t yet comprehend. I am a very positive person, but right now I find myself feeling the beginnings of hopelessness. However, I am going to do my absolute best to hold onto the lifeline of hope that is hard wired into my heart and soul.
I have thought a lot about what I can do to stand up for those marginalized by society, for the environment, for core beliefs of equality and compassion. I am not a wealthy woman- in the monetary sense at least. I still can give, though; I can give my time to causes. I can give love and compassion to my students and make sure they know that they are safe with me no matter who they are, who they love, or how they worship. I can reach out to my neighbors, listen to differing ideas and work to understand viewpoints contrary to my own. I can educate myself on the issues and vote my conscience, become involved at the local and state levels of government. And today I will attend the Women’s March here in Birmingham to stand in solidarity with millions of other women across the country.
It has come time for even the most quiet and meek among us to stand up for what we believe in- peacefully, courageously, and with no apology. We stand on the shoulders of countless fellow Americans who gave their blood, sweat, tears, and sometimes their lives to effect change for the betterment of society. Society is all of us- not just a chosen few. It is people who look like us and those that do not. People who think like us and those who are diametrically opposed. People who live, love, and worship in countless differing ways. That diversity is what makes us strong and resilient; losing it is unimaginable to me.
Democracy is a rocky road filled with bumpy spots and detours, but it is always worth fighting for. I want to be a part of helping us – all of us- to move forward. I hope and pray that our new President learns and grows, looking out for and finding compassion for every American. Instead of taking away rights, I hope he will defend those inalienable rights for each and every one of us. Instead of preaching hatred and division, I hope that he will do the difficult and messy work of bringing us together. We may be a wonderful patchwork quilt of humanity, but ultimately we are all Americans wanting what what is best for our country.
On this day, my heart is heavy but hopeful. I choose hope, but I will also stand up for the rights that have been hard-won by those who came before me. I will stand up for my family and friends, my students and colleagues, for my fellow citizens and for the environment. I can’t just sit back and hope that things will be okay- that’s not how a healthy democracy works. Mom always said that things worth having were worth fighting for; my voice may be quiet, but joined with others the song of hope and freedom can never be silenced.