Will you meet me on The Respect, Compassion and Action Bridge in 2018?
“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist…but when the law undertakes to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions… exclusive privileges to make the rich richer and the more potent more powerful, the humble members of society have a right to complain of the injustices of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evil exists only in its abuses.’ ~ President Andrew Jackson
We greet you with raw and ready hearts. 2017 challenged us.
For me, not like 2016 when my beloved died. That year almost broke me.
Still, I limped through most of 2017. Is it true for the collective? Are we all in this together?
What’s worse than being knocked down or crawling through the struggle is starting to believe stagnation, or even backsliding is normal.
When we get smacked down with too many triggers or linger too long in a season that’s meant to be temporary, grief becomes us.
Bombarded with too much danger, too much rhetoric, too much power wielded illegitimately and selfishly at the expense of people’s souls, too much fake patriotism, fake Christianity, and fake politicians leading us, we crave a break from what’s happening in our country and the world.
Sh*t! We almost want to watch fake reality shows!
This is us. This is our country, The United States of America. Acting divided.
Our 2017 experience included Mother Nature sweeping with her hurricane broom. She’s cleaning up. And we came together in times like that. Thank God.
Chaos. Catastrophe. Disaster. Scandal. Death. Lies. Corruption. Collusion.
All this made my personal grief feel minor next to the collective mourning over our country’s pandemonium.
But, hello 2018! Welcome to the shift.
Listen, we’re Americans. We’re stubborn. We’re independent. We don’t like to be told to come to the table; we like to be invited. And, we expect there to be food for all when we arrive.
See, we like things running smoothly. We want to believe in our justice and electoral systems. We prefer our Presidents act Presidential.
We want people to be treated with respect, dignity, fair pay, and opportunity to compete for the American dream—so we can focus on our own lives.
Yeah, we’re a little self-centered. We’re used to being entertained.
Things are changing. The 11th hour is upon us. We might be a little out of shape, but we won’t stay out of the big game. Not when it counts.
In 2018, we do not like greedy men manipulating our democracy.
We’re not British, but we Americans have a certain decorum.
It does not include crass and violent actions against women or crazy boys with bad hair banging drums for nuclear war.
In our hang-loose American society, we still care about the least among us.
Education, health care, environment are the seeds we sow for our children and our children’s children. These are the safety nets of civilized society.
Hey, we might be slow to the table, but don’t think just because you didn’t invite us, we won’t show up.
We go when we feel called. Truthfully, we didn’t think our voice was required. We thought we had systems in place. Geez, gosh! We never thought it would get this bad.
But, now you arrive and enliven us, 2018. Now, we hear the call.
To save our democracy, decency, decorum, respect and kindness. To restore the dignified character of our country.
Truth and advocacy.
We’re opening our eyes, thinking for ourselves, researching facts, and reaching a boiling point in our individual minds and hearts.
Collectively, we move toward the good. We consider our neighbors. We’re Americans, in the best sense of the word that some have tried to pervert.
There’s a shift, like when you’ve been dating the wrong guy and you’re trying to see the positive, but he keeps doing stupid things and so you’re in the in-between… until he crosses some nonnegotiable line you may not have even known you had.
Suddenly, it’s game on.
You stand up and speak truth. You remember who you are. This isn’t it.
Like when you’re searching for a new job before you’ve told anyone, and one day your lips tell your boss you quit. Scary. This is a time for reckoning.
Like when you start packing before you even know where you’re moving.
Taking in the ridiculous scenarios of 2017 packed our bags and mentally readied us to move. Forward. With the heavy baggage.
Or, for some of us, 2018 may slap us awake like the day I witnessed a teenage girl beating the crap out of another at the park across the street while other kids laughed, cheered, and videoed the fight on their phones.
“Hey, what the hell are you doing? I called the police,” I said, even though my leg shook like Elvis and in my panic I forgot to hit send after 911.
Our democracy is the girl being beaten. What’s going on is wrong. People are applauding. Others hide in our houses and pretend what we clearly see is not as bad as it is.
In 2018, we speak. We question. We consider. We make noise. We show compassion. We listen to what’s behind the rhetoric. We research.
We bring back a little thing called FACTS.
We avoid violence and name calling. We focus on shared values and ideals.
We find common ground on which to restore and strengthen our communities, society and country.
We’re not fools; we know there’s a lot of faking going on.
Let’s be real. We can create the kind of country that offers fulfillment for all.
Not prideful. Not egotistical. Not my-hands-are-bigger-than-your-hands charades.
What about a Respect Movement? Respect yourself. Respect your neighbors and fellow citizens. Fellow humans. You know, God’s children.
Kind of like Jesus did in the Bible, if you believe he was a good example. When the times called for it, like when religion was perverted and money was worshipped, that dude got mad!
Blind belief after the truth has frayed is ignorance waiting to be revealed.
We’re not blind. Now, we speak from our hearts and minds.
Profit isn’t the only bottom line. There’s a cost to pretense.
This moment in history can be the blip or this can be the blow-up. We’ve got to show up.
Let’s peak behind the curtain and see what’s behind the political reality show because we might just marry one of these fellows.
Do we respect these folks? Do we believe their words? Very few. Regardless, we, the people still regard the United States of America and our ideals.
Here’s a few words from THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE:
That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed, that when any form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.
Those framers gave us the manual: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—not Power, Greed and Inequality.
This isn’t the beginning of our country and this isn’t Selma, but these growing pains call for courage.
I haven’t been as brave and actionable as I liked to believe I would’ve been if old enough during the intense 1960s.
See, my generation has enjoyed the good fortune of not having to be involved. We’ve been riding on the work of generations before us.
This isn’t about politics. It’s about civics. Doing our civic duties. Yep, all of us. We’re a family and we all have chores.
Let’s not let our American house and family go down in shambles.
Let’s not be the naïve child who believes her parents will never divorce, although she’s witnessed her family’s splintering all along.
We insist our children get an education. It’s not just to get a good paying job, is it? What have we learned? What were the lessons?
Civil rights. Vietnam. Suffragettes. Authoritarianism. Journalism. Voting Rights. Environmental Protections. Dictators. Authoritarian regimes. Rhetoric.
Gosh, what about the bomb on Nagasaki that was a baby compared to the ones we’ve created now?
Oh, please. The time is late, but it’s ours. It seems big, overwhelming. I know.
Let’s start small.
Let’s start with respect, the kind of self-respect that calls us to step up.
Respect is a bridge we can walk toward tomorrow.
Let’s do this.