Posted in activism, politics, Uncategorized

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

As you might (or might not) have noticed, it’s been a while since my last post. Like everyone else, I have been overwhelmed with the bombardment of breaking news and political explosions, exhausting everyone’s ability to deal with the current political climate with the numerous and egregious violations of the law, human decency, and common sense.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing what’s admittedly not often a priority for me—self-care; devoting time to coping with stress. I think activists and general “helpers” are consistently so busy assisting others that they neglect themselves—at least until they’re exhausted, have a breakdown or get sick. So I’ve gotten better at tapping into what my gut is telling me, and then listening to it. Continue reading “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Posted in activism, politics, Uncategorized, women

My pro-life post

If you really are pro-life, then I assume you support everyone’s life—including the lives of black people; the lives of gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people; the life of a Syrian refugee child; the life of a transwoman or transman.

If you truly are pro-life…that means you’re interested in ways to support people through some of the most difficult moments in their lives—whether it was an intended pregnancy with a precipitous medical condition; a non-consensual experience; or despite all efforts to use effective contraception, that little plus sign appeared. These are not moments that happen blithely, as folks in business suits discuss talking points across a conference table. Pregnancies—both intended and unintended—are in the unsanitized realm of life—the messy, sometimes bloody, ooey-gooey part of our existence. And in those moments, people need support and compassion more than ever. Continue reading “My pro-life post”

Posted in activism, history, politics, Uncategorized, women

Throughout her life, Stanton’s father would say, “I wish you were a boy.”

My family is full of strong, successful women. They are teachers, mothers, counselors, translators, researchers, wives, social workers, and change makers. They are brilliant, passionate, stubborn and protective. Growing up amidst their example and stewardship contributed to who I am today.

My maternal grandmother and aunt took my sisters (one younger, one older) and I on a multitude of excursions as children. These trips exposed us to the many possibilities and viewpoints outside of the small town we lived in. When I was around ten years old, we visited Seneca Falls for the first time. Continue reading “Throughout her life, Stanton’s father would say, “I wish you were a boy.””

Posted in activism, history, politics, Uncategorized

In the words of a man named Martin

A lot has been written, discussed, displayed and filmed about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., perhaps the most iconic Civil Rights leader in our history. Revered during his life and immortalized by his tragic death in 1968, Dr. King’s legend has a lot to do with the profoundly insightful things he said.

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of three people who have earned a federal holiday. Christopher Columbus got a holiday for “discovering the continent” (for Europeans); George Washington had an integral role in shaping the country as we’ve known it; and Dr. King called upon the nation to follow through with its “all men are created equal” notion. It wasn’t officially observed in all fifty states until 2000, but the effort to establish a “Martin Luther King Day” began shortly after his death, and was signed into law by President Reagan in 1986.

The almost-six-year-old monument to Dr. King in D.C. features a white granite representation of the leader, cut to create a gap in a half-circle of high stone, where visitors can view some of his quotations. The sixty-foot profile stares with his arms folded out at the Tidal Basin, toward the columned dome dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, founding father and former President. The side of the block featuring his statue reads “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

Continue reading “In the words of a man named Martin”

Posted in history, politics, Uncategorized

No president has ever been a perfect person.

And the White House, for all its revered history and significance, is just a building. A structure constructed by slaves, in fact—along with many of the other historic buildings in D.C., actuated from schematics by hired labor; sometimes to freed individuals, sometimes to slaveowners for use of their “equipment.” It was simply called the President’s house at the time, and wasn’t called the White House until Teddy Roosevelt claimed the title in the 1900s.

Continue reading “No president has ever been a perfect person.”

Posted in activism, history, politics, Uncategorized

What does it mean to lead?

What qualities make someone a leader?

When I was in college, and involved in many groups and the campus paper, we spent a lot of time talking about what is ideal for someone in a position to lead others. I realized then, and acutely so now, that people have vastly different opinions about what is a good for the person in charge.

Being in charge depends somewhat on the organization—a coalition designed to uplift and support black people should be led by a black person; an LGBTQ-action group ought to be led by an LGBTQ person; a group of moms ideally will be led by someone who is also a mother. I understand that sometimes this is impossible or exploitative—but sufficient effort must be made to have the leader ‘match up’ with the values promoted by the group.

When that group is all of us—Americans—it gets a little murkier. How can we select one individual who not only represents all of us, but can embody the ideals that we stand for—especially when those representations and ideals vary so greatly? What skills and strengths must that person have? Has anyone thought about what that list of values might look like?

To some people, sadly, those qualities include being a man; being white; being a Christian, straight, cisgender, upper-middle-class, able-bodied. FDR’s poll numbers would have been dismally lower had the general public known he used a wheelchair for the majority of his mobility needs, despite the fact that he was one of the most influential and celebrated presidents in our nation’s history. Still more would have jumped ship had they known he had been unfaithful to Eleanor—fidelity being a value that, apparently, is not as sacred in today’s society for a president.

To others, those qualities include the cutthroat, tough-as-nails exterior that can reaffirm America’s might (as if it needed that). Often this aligns with capitalistic trappings, shown by the consistent flock of supporters trailing behind those with wealth, which (for so many) is synonymous with powerful—regardless of how this person amassed such wealth, including the potential disregard of morals it took to get there. Although unabashed honesty is an important quality for a president, history teaches us that a successful business model usually involves a degree of deception. Americans desire a strong sense of trustworthiness in their leader, yet turncoats and frenemies are integral parts in thriving white-collar worlds. How do we as individuals, and a country, grapple with that paradox?

While it is necessary for a leader of a nation to be steeled and realistic toward potential displays of force, countless numbers place high regard for experience and ambition in military control. But I would argue this concoction of strength also includes objectivity, patience, decisiveness, and perception—and specifically discourages knee-jerk, emotional (irrational) reactions; operating on a bite-sized, superficial analysis; and premature self-serving aggrandizement.

Those who value the strong often gravitate toward decisive, relentless ambition. Still others uphold a more humble courage balanced with selflessness, compassion, kindness, and understanding. Few individuals are capable of even attempting the balancing act of trying to please all of us. But this discussion about values, and how we align the hierarchy of what we find important, can be a telling exercise indeed.

Perhaps the real reason for all of this is the distorted perception that so many have about what it means to be strong, successful, a leader, or even a ‘good’ person.