Tuesday, November 06, 2018

This is who we are

Again, and again I hear friends declare, "This is not who we are."

You know what? This is who we are. All of it.

If it is happening, it is because we as a society have decided, "This is ok." We the people hold the power to change society for the better. We better start acting like it.

So sure, when a gunman opens fire on a crowd of concertgoers or churchgoers.... that is not who you are, but it is the policies of the representatives that a majority of Americans support which allowed it to happen. Liberal gun laws. Removing protections limiting the mentally ill from possessing firearms. The shattering of the safety nets of society that support the most vulnerable. These are the policies embraced by a majority of our representatives in Congress. This is who we are.

And when xenophobia works, this too is who we are. We aren't shutting down the streets while concentration camps are made in our name. Sure, we shirk away from our racist uncle when he says something embarrassing at the kitchen table, but we don't call him out. And it isn't just the rants from the bully pulpit. He's just saying the quiet part out loud. These are the policies that a majority of Americans have embraced for some time. This is who we are. I've watched NIMBY-ism in my own backyard. So-called progressive neighbors worried about who might move into the apartment complex proposed on the vacant lot next door. And rather than seeing what could be, they fall back on fearmongering and obstructionism. This is who we are.

There is little we can do to change the national stage. But we each have tremendous sway in the neighborhoods and communities we call home.

The apartment complex did get built, but thanks to the leadership of the City Council and a few vocal citizens, we have more than apartments and a strip mall. Yes, we have apartments, but at their core is a small main street of shops. It is a place where people can gather... get a bite to eat, have a drink, talk among friends. Is it perfect? No, far from it. It is no Hyde Park. But it is as Hyde Park as you can get across the street from a Walmart. This is the promise of a representative democracy. You elect people who will represent all of us, think of the impact of their actions on others and will work for the common good. To make things a bit better for the future. Sometimes despite us.

If what is everyday is not who you are, be the change. Call it out. Don't let your friend make that sexist joke in front of your friends. Call him out. Check your own behavior.

Today when you walk into that ballot box, think of the most vulnerable people in your lives. Those who live at the margins.

Your vote will decide if your neighbor can afford that dialysis.

Your vote will decide who is protected under the law and who is not.

Your vote will determine how our nation responds to climate change.

And your vote decides what values guide the development of your community.

If the now is not who you are, be the change. Bend the world into the future you imagine, make a we that you can embrace.