Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights.

So that happened.

And it sucks on so many levels. The uptick in racist/misogynistic/xenophobic attacks made in the president-elect's name. The appointment of an anti-semitic, misogynistic, wife-beating white supremacist to a leading White House policy position. The threats to women's rights, particularly in the area of reproductive health.

For the past week, every night I have woken up at 3:30 in the morning with flushes of panic and anxiety coursing through me.

But I am not, by nature, a gnasher of teeth and render of garments. I cannot wallow endlessly. If I'm miserable about something, I've learned to let the misery wash over and through me, and then I move on. My approach to unpleasantness is to either suck it up if I have to, or do something about it.

I am taking steps to get more politically active. I am becoming involved in women's groups, determined to support causes that are important, either by giving money or volunteering. I am in contact with my government representatives at both the state and national levels. I am signing up to do training to help immigrants who are resettling in Colorado so that I can work with families and help them apply for jobs, or find apartments, or get their kids enrolled in school.

I am fortunate to come from a family that shares my sensibilities. I've talked to and heard from so many people whose political views are diametrically opposed to those of their parents or siblings, and they feel under attack and alienated, and worried about what will happen at family gatherings at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I don't have that problem. I come from a long line of hard-core Democrats. As the descendants of Jews who came to this country in the early 20th century to escape the Russian pogroms, we are hard-wired to oppose discrimination in all forms. Over 20 years ago, and well before homosexuality became far less stigmatized or normalized than it is now, my dad participated in a march on Washington for gay rights because, as he told me, "I can't stand bigotry or discrimination."

So my Thanksgiving will be a good one. i will see my brothers and my nieces and my DC-based friends. We will watch hockey and go for a hike at Great Falls or Scott's Run. We'll do the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Copious amounts of cranberry jello mold will be consumed. We will feel the love.

That's what I can always do - let my friends and family know that I love them and will always be there for them. I can stand up to bigotry and refuse to remain silent if I witness bullying or harassment. I can work to advance equality. It's what we all need to do.

So get more active in your community. Volunteer. Run for office. Don't let hate and ignorance win.

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