When You See Something, Say Something

“Let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution.” Words as relevant, as impactful, as critically important in today’s civil vortex as they were when John Lewis spoke them during the Civil Rights Movement.

Mr. Lewis’ life was dedicated to holding this nation up to its ideals of equality and justice for every person. Through his loving presence, a presence of forgiveness of those who beat and repressed him, a presence of insistence and strength, he posited the rights spelled out in the Constitution as the foundation for civil action.

The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

On 6-Dec-2019 the U. S. House passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act restoring protections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.  The Supreme Court had previously struck down federal oversight of elections in states with a history of discriminating against minority communities in the Shelby v. Holder 2013 decision. The House intended to restore that oversight. The House bill sits, stalled, on the Senate Majority Leader’s desk.

The right to vote is sacred, a fundamental piece of a free society. John Lewis: “We must go out and vote like we’ve never voted before.” In addition to vigorously supporting the right of every person to vote, John Lewis’ voice – now, my voice – demanded continuing and unyielding action to fulfill the promise of the Constitution.

Our words really do live in others. If I can see or feel myself in other human beings and acknowledge that my words matter, would I not hope, and even expect, of myself a voice that speaks fairly and fully for everyone.

We all are beneficiaries of Mr. Lewis’ courage, voice and soul force.

We live in each other. Whose voice do you want to represent?

 

Oprah Made Me Laugh Today

It’s been awhile.

Oprah slides into a folksy, communal speak when she wants to emphasize something we already know to be true… an open secret… and it almost always engenders laughter.

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Aside from it feeling really, really good, laughter reminded me that the ferocious energy of concern I have for the health, well-being and future of this country has recently over-taken the, frankly, tender set of sensibilities that are my foundation and the sustenance of a healthy personal, professional and spiritual life.

Nonetheless, Oprah’s recent public appearance in Georgia caused me to clarify what single attribute in a candidate for public office I believe to be non-negotiable.

Here’s how I answer my own question. If I consider the issue of self-empowerment solely through one’s own hard work, a historical tenet of the moderate Republican platform (and no such moderate platform remotely exists in today’s conservative discourse), I can understand the merit of the idea. What’s missing in its viability and in conservative gun, immigration and health care philosophies is what Republican candidates never speak of: an intentional statement of support for the well-being of others.

Language such as, “standing for the values that matter to all others”; “collaboration is the first responsibility”; and “the change we need has to come from valuing and respecting every voter” is evidence of a person, a soul, infused with mutual, universal respect. These are Stacey Abrams’ words. Stacey hopes to make history on Tue as the first black female governor in the U.S.

This is language I insist upon in any candidate who has my vote. A candidate who cannot or will not acknowledge our shared humanity as being integral to how this country thrives and how we live in this world has not yet learned the simplest lesson of love. The lesson is simply to recognize and accept what is spiritually true about myself and all others.

Stacey Abrams’ speech is honest speech. She confesses having to, “manage the limits I’ve put on myself”; to include romance novel writing as a key piece of a balanced and expressive life: “writing is cathartic to me.. it’s one of the ways I can soothe my soul”; to managing debt (three college loans): “If you’re rich, debt is considered a mark of greatness. If you’re poor, it’s considered a mark of inadequacy.”

So, again I say: We need a bigger tent. The Democratic party needs a tent so large that its members’ commitments to honoring racial, religious and economic diversity, affordable education, local and national consensus-building and vast environmental protections literally vaporize the small, small voices of hate and separation.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to move this country in a whole, meaningful and progressive direction. The election of Stacey Abrams and innumerable other bright, energetic, fearless candidates this Tue is the United States of America righting itself,  turning a corner with the sun on our shoulders and supporting every citizen to live her or his greatness.

“I come as one, but I stand as 10,000.” Maya Angelou.

VOTE.