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Post-Election Thoughts, WTF Do We Do Now?

Friends, I am grieving. And I need a little time. Please do not say that I am exaggerating or need to stop my liberal, poor-loser whining. I know what grieving feels like. I have survived the death of loved ones, 9/11, the loss of a business I was passionate about, and almost lost a marriage. I know what pain is. I have been to quite a bit of therapy. I am well aware of the stages of the grieving process.

Many of us are going through this. If you are too, I recommend this article on post-election grief over at the Huffington Post.

Please do not tell us to just get over it (we can’t), stop our complaining (we won’t), or hope for the best (we don’t). I for one, am pretty low on hope right now. I believe that some of us may get there eventually, but we need time. I’ve moved through shock and anger, and am on to depression. I’m making progress. Yay!

One of the most painful things to me as a mom, was watching the reaction of my kids. My daughter cried herself to sleep on election night while my son was completely shut down and silent. He didn’t need to say anything. I could see the despair in his eyes. I am doing everything I can to support them, give them perspective and hope, and ease their fears – while at the same time, downplaying my own feelings for their sake.

This is not about party or politics. This is about who we are as a country, what we stand for, and the leadership that we show the world. I read a New York Times article this morning, and this quote by its author, Charles M. Blow, sums up my feelings perfectly –

“It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.”

Right now, I feel lost, unsafe, and scared. And I’m a white woman in suburban Orange County. I can’t even imagine how African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, LGBTQs, immigrants and people with disabilities are feeling.

This article, entitled “Farewell America” says this better than I can –

“We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.”

This is real friends. Already, there are reports of Muslim and Latino students in California being harassed, an Asian-American woman attacked by a Trump supporter in Minnesota,and a swastika and a message of Make America White Again spray painted on a baseball field in New York. If you can stomach more, see this collection of Twitter posts, “Day 1 in Trump’s America“.

So as much as I want to curl up in the fetal position and drink Cabernet until the pain goes away, I can not. Not for me, not for my children, and not for all of those who are vulnerable and have been marginalized and demonized by the President-elect.

After we move through the stages of grief, exercise some self-care, bury our feelings in too many bowls of ice cream, and hug our families, we have got to take action. It’s time to step it up friends.

This election has changed me. Scarred me permanently. But it has also woken me up to how much work we still have to do in this country. I am now and will forever be an activist – not the previous activist that I thought I was – volunteer-for-some-causes, donate-money-to-some-charities, and try-to-influence-a-few-friends type of activist. Rather I am becoming a no-holds-barred, I-will-shout-from-the-rooftops, I-don’t-care-if-I-lose-friends activist. F*ck this shit! This. Must. Stop.

Here are some of the things I plan to do for now. I hope some of you will consider joining me:

  • Continue to foster a home environment that promotes tolerance, acceptance, understanding and love. I would rather that my children grow up to be kind, than get in to Harvard or make a bunch of money. In our home, we will talk more about our shared values, and how we can love and accept and reach out to those who are not like us. This is a good article to discuss at the post-election dinner table –  “What Do We Tell The Children“.
  • Volunteer in my local community to support causes that matter to me. Not volunteer just around the holidays or when it is convenient. I will find a cause and devote time to it – weekly.
  • Speak out whenever I see (either in person or online) racism, bigotry, misogyny, or hate against any individual or group of people. I believe that now, we must radiate goodness and kindness from the bottom up. I do not see that it will be modeled at the top anytime soon. We must be the change. Now more than ever.
  • Read and reread, and read again this article from Mother Jones, “Don’t Mourn, Fight Like Hell“. From this piece – “Trump appealed to America’s worst impulses. Now it’s on the rest of us to show, to prove, that this is not all that America is. This is a time when we’re called on to do things we may not have done before. To face down bigotry and hate, and to reach beyond our Facebook feeds in trying to do so.”
  • Seek to understand those who feel differently and think differently. I am trying, like really trying. It is hard. I’m not going to lie. But in the end, I strive to understand the pain, the hopelessness, the anger – that makes someone support this man. I will not shame them. I will seek to find common ground. Even if they don’t do the same in return. It’s the only way to get through and out of this mess. This piece was helpful for me, “Stop Shaming Trump Supporters“.
  • Join and donate to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They do good work to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Their work is more important than ever.
  • Join and donate to Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.
  • Check out this list of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry organizations.
  • Volunteer and donate to environmental causes. The earth (and all of those who live here) is going to need all the help she can get fighting a president who believes climate change is a “hoax”. I recommend the 350.org, the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club for a start.

Let this election enrage but also motivate us. That is the one and only silver lining I can find.

Let’s do more, fight harder, be louder, and be the change. Most importantly, let us spread love and light and tolerance to all people who we touch. We can be the change. Now more than ever, we must be the difference. It is the only chance we have. I hope you will join me.

So for now, we love, love, and love some more. Not a weak and passive love. A love that is strong – that can move mountains. A love that stands up for Americans – all Americans. In my heart, I truly believe … we are stronger together.

love

 

 

 

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Why Pope Francis and the Encyclical Matter

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If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I am beyond thrilled about Pope Francis’s papal encyclical, released today. As stated in this New York Times article, “The new papal encyclical on the environment is a ringing call to action, a critique of consumerism and a prophetic warning about the dangers of ignoring what Pope Francis calls “the ecological crisis.”’

Pope Francis Photo

The Pope’s message on this issue is important. Scientific studies and facts do not appear to be making a meaningful impact. I am hopeful that this is the game changer the movement needs. This quote from the New York Times article states it better than I can – “The hard lesson scientists have learned in recent years, Dr. Schellnhuber said, is that presenting the facts and data about global warming and other environmental problems has not been enough to move the public to action. The issues have become so serious that only a broad moral awakening can offer hope of solving them, he said.”

My enthusiasm at this news was quickly met by comments and messages from friends, criticizing the contents of the encyclical and my enthusiasm for this Pope. I have been called misguided and ill informed of the facts.

There are few things in life I feel more strongly about than my belief that the Pope, 95% of the scientific community, and the majority of Americans are on the right side of history on this one. The sooner we all get on board, the sooner we can become better stewards of our planet. How taking better care of our collective planet is up for argument is something I will never understand.

Some say the Pope has no business getting involved in this issue. I could not disagree more. I don’t see how the Pope’s role is not to look out for God’s creatures and God’s creation. Nothing threatens both more than the environmental degradation we are inflicting on our planet.

Even IF you do not agree with the facts about climate change, we are damaging our planet in many ways that go beyond climate change – pollution, pesticides, rainforest destruction, and the incredible damage that we are doing to our oceans has to scare you. These things are all real. This photo right here. This is a photo of a landfill in India. This is happening. This is happening right now.

Trashdumpindia

One last note on climate change. The science is settled on this. It is happening, and the result of human activity. Lots of smart people have spent their entire lives studying this problem, dissecting it from every angle, and offering solutions. The Pope is listening to them. We should too. Science is “bought and paid for” say the conspiracy theorists. Here’s the thing – of course scientific study is funded, but that is not the same as being bought and paid for. There is no “scientific conspiracy” on this issue. There’s a quote by Benjamin Franklin I like that says “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” The science is settled. There is no “cover up” or “conspiracy”. It’s time to listen to smart people who know much more than we do, as armchair critics and observers.

Thank you Pope Francis, for shining a bright light on this issue and bringing it to worldwide attention. Thank you for lighting a fire under me to get back to my blog and my message. You give me hope. Hope for the church, hope for change, hope for the future, and hope for our planet. God bless you on this journey. You have my full support and overwhelming gratitude.

Yes, Now is the Time

As I dropped my kids off at school today and watched them walk away, I unexpectedly teared up. I have shed many tears over the past few days, but my reaction today took me by surprise.

On the way home, the one thing that kept going through my mind was, “Yes, it is time.”

I will not listen to the people who say that I’m not honoring the victims of Friday’s tragedy in Newtown by bringing up the issue of sensible gun control. Because for me, I would not be honoring the victims if I did not fight for this issue. Right now, while everyone is dialed in and listening, is exactly the time.

To me, it’s not political. What is political about wanting to protect my own children and, in fact all children, from this happening again?

The issue of violence at this level is incomprehensible, and the solutions complicated. It’s no easy fix. But to ignore the possibility of better, to say “now is not the time” or “we don’t need gun control, we need more guns”, well, I just simply don’t understand it.

Why can’t we look at solutions? Why can’t we expect better? Why must we wait to do these things? I believe this incident leaves us without a choice. We simply must address these issues and do it now.

Nothing is off the table. Let’s look at mental health care. Let’s look at gun control. Let’s look at security in our school systems. Let’s look at educational opportunities. Let’s look at violent videos games.

Notice at no time in this post did I mention a BAN on guns. I just said better gun control, so please don’t start with the second amendment stuff. Yes, I know we have the right to bear arms. But, nowhere does our constitution say we have a right to bear semi-automatic assault weapons. I don’t understand the pro-gun hunting crowd’s stance on this either. I mean, the last time I looked, hunters weren’t using 30-round clips to kill a deer. I would think that most true sportsman would agree that these types of weapons are unnecessary.

We can also do a much better job in regulating who can purchase guns. It should be at least as hard to get a gun as it is to get a driver’s license. Why is this controversial? Who on earth wants guns in the hands of the mentally unstable or those with criminal records?

And stop with the criminals will still get guns thing too. The guns used in most of these recent mass shootings were all purchased legally, not from some underground black market.

Oh, and the, they would just use other weapons thing? Last time I looked, you couldn’t kill 26 people in under a minute with a knife.

Why can’t we just consider the possibility that it should be easier in this country to get mental health care and harder to purchase assault weapons? Why is that a controversial statement?

As mothers, we have to ban together to be the voice of reason. Let’s make our voices louder than those of the NRA. Now is the time and I fear if we don’t do it, no one will. Until the next tradgedy, when everyone argues about it on TV and in social media, and then a bunch of people tell us “it’s not the time”, and then everyone does absolutely NOTHING to fix the problem…until it happens again…then we hit repeat…

I want off this spin cycle. The status quo is not working. It’s time for change.

Instead of just talking about it, I am going to be more active. If you would like to be part of the change too, here are some things that we can do right now:

In addition to better gun control, we also need to look at the inadequate mental health care funding in our country and address the level of security in schools.

But for me, school security must stop way short of armed guards in every school, and teachers carrying concealed weapons, and teaching our children to live in fear. If the level of security at our schools needs to be armed guards to take out shooters wielding semi-automatic assault weapons aimed at our children, then I’m out. I will kick and scream and protest outside our schools before I sign up for that gig.

Most importantly, as moms we can love. Love our children. Love other people’s children. Love people who agree with you. Love people who disagree with you. Love other parents. Extend a hand to those who need help.

Change is in the air, I can feel it. I am hopeful, but beyond just being hopeful, I intend to do something this time. I can no longer stand idly by and let my voice be drowned out. This issue is too important.

I choose love. I choose change. Now.