Where am I Safe?

If I extrapolate the events of 6-Jan – the violent insurrection of the democratic institutions of the United States of America – I am left wondering where am I safe.

If I’m employed in a state Capitol where guillotines designed to execute elected officials are installed on grounds near the state house, am I safe? What about a hangman’s noose erected on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol if I’m a page or an intern?

If I support minorities  – as people I know myself to be – in peaceful protest, and armed militias with no legal authority patrol the streets, am I safe?

If I have a dissenting opinion with someone online who is entrenched in conspiracy theories, am I safe?

If I dare to defend a light rail passenger who is being threatened by a racist, am I safe?

If I am a black citizen walking to the corner grocery or fixing a flat tire, am I safe?

If I am Latinx and am grocery shopping or attending a food festival, am I safe?

If I am gay or trans-sexual and I am protecting the person I love or I am holding public office or I am serving in the military, am I safe?

If I and others – Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist – are gathered in a place of worship and we welcome a stranger, are we safe?

In all of these scenarios and countless others, I’m on my own – and so are you – and it’s a dangerous place to be in this moment. If, in a democratic republic there is no accountability for crimes against people, legislative institutions or the Constitution, we are nowhere and nothing – nothing more than people wishing for… or asleep to… protections that we have been unwilling to defend.

We have many of the wrong people in elected office. What they are engaged in is not service to this country or to us. Elected officials are permitted to represent us only because we choose them. Our choices then create our daily reality. Congressional members who poison our Constitutional values with hate should be expelled.

Until and unless we are willing to confront the cancerous truth about this country’s history of separation, dehumanization and hate, the escalating threat to each of us – the clear and present danger – will tear and finally destroy the fabric of that which we say we hold dear – our own freedom.

Freedom is not trapping myself in someone else’s lie by repeating it. It’s self-oppression. I oppress myself by feeding on others’ – and my own – hate. I degrade myself as I degrade others.

Voices of hate such as that of the current president have no place in a society, the tenets of which proclaim the value of all humanity. He must be removed and must be prohibited from holding any future public office.

The values canonized in the Constitution are not static. They require each of us to enliven them through tolerance and acceptance, actively recognizing ourselves in each other and defending the safety of others as vigorously as we hope others will defend us.

We are the ones who must purge hateful rhetoric from public conversation.

Our words matter. Our calls for accountability matter. It’s the only way we get to live as the people we say we are.

How will you use your voice?



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?