“The entire universe converged to create you.”
Each time I transitioned from sleep through the pre-awake stages this morning, this message rolled through my consciousness. Over and over, “The entire universe converged to create you.” It engendered first, a sort of existential felt sense of what that meant – that I am, as are we all, stardust, that reassembly of energy and matter. Then, pragmatically, why was it roiling through my consciousness?
Without devoting an entire post to a question that has no answer, its meaning lies squarely in the elevated use of my own voice.
We live in a time and in circumstances that are very, very dangerous for our democratic republic. The rise of authoritarianism and the near-total disintegration of the Republican party into neo-Fascism now pose the greatest threat to the continuity of freedoms enshrined by the founders since the Civil War. The urgency, the need for a collective call-to-action, cannot be overstated. The need is not to promote one party over another, or one ideology, or one set of preferences. The need is to defend democracy.
Steve Schmidt, a communications and public affairs strategist, reminded us recently that in the construct of a democracy, “people are on top of the power of the State.” Do we grasp the significance of that statement? Imagine our place as citizens in a democratically constructed society as residing on the pinnacle of a pyramid. Local school board elections underlie us; city and county elections, including judges, underlie them; state-held offices like election commissioners, attorneys general, state senates and houses of representatives and supreme courts, secretaries of state, governors underlie them; and the federal government – all three branches – are the base of the pyramid. They are literally in service to us. We are the ones with the power.
What we are facing right now is a battle for the structure of our own government. A battle for the rights of free speech, an open press, free and fair elections, personal and digital privacy, peaceful assembly and fair trial by jury. At our own peril, we may assume these rights are as they were designed – inalienable – yet, the moment truly presents a clear and present danger of losing them. To violence, to intimidation, to oppression, to Fascism.
Societies such as ours are very delicate, indeed. We need to support and protect the culture of who are in this society. This not a political battle, but one that culturally recognizes and defends against the imminent danger of authoritarianism. The battle will be protracted. We need to amass victories for democracy in many, many small battles, locally, statewide, nationally, over at least the next decade to forestall otherwise certain catastrophe.
What are the most critical and beneficial ways for each of us to support our democracy?
- Work to increase voter registration. Donate to grass roots organizations working on the ground to register people. Everyone – EVERY CITIZEN – deserves the right to vote. Vote = voice = power.
- Vote in every election. Every election, small or large. Self-educate on the candidates. What do they stand for? Are they tearing institutions down?
- Learn to differentiate between candidates who talk of policy, planning, services and solutions, and those who just cast anger, resentment and hate.
- Contribute to organizations who you feel extend your own voice.
- Pay attention to current politicians’ rhetoric. If their rhetoric is abusive, destructive, hateful, use your voice to call them out, and encourage others not to support them.
- Support Black women and their grass-root leadership. The strength of Black women and their coalitions is at the heart of a strong, multi-cultural and powerful partnership.
- Support the efforts of people who in Norm Eisen’s words: “form a “grand coalition around the idea of democracy itself “, but not at the expense of weak or limited measures to again enshrine democracy. Coalitions can only be formed with people absolutely committed to saving democracy.
Eisen: “The untold story of the  election is the thousands of people of both parties who accomplished the triumph of American democracy at its very foundation.”
Ian Bassin, co-founder of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan rule-of-law advocacy group: “But it’s massively important for the country to understand that it didn’t happen accidentally. The system didn’t work magically. Democracy is not self-executing.”
Please accept that the voice that lives in me, lives in you, as well. “The entire universe converged to create you.” It’s time for all of us to be and do everything we can in support of our way of being in the world.
There’s not a moment to lose.
Use your voice.