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Every day, it’s something new:

Banning books

Restricting access to medical procedures and medicines

Subjecting youth to invasive medical exams

Failing to restrict a dangerous tool killing thousands of children

Failing to protect our Asian, Black, Jewish, and Muslim neighbors (among others) from threats and violence

Maybe you can sense it coming. Every day, Americans are witnessing more examples of an extreme minority moving our nation toward a narrow, oppressive ideology. Imposing restrictive laws on an unwilling public and calling it “freedom” is anything but. It’s fascism.

A thriving democracy values every member. It empowers each person to succeed. It brings justice and opportunity by the people and for the people. A thriving democracy holds elected officials accountable for their actions. It ensures every person’s views are counted through voting on local and national issues. It is expansive and growing.

America is very much at a crossroads. Mistrust, concern, and disillusionment are at a fever pitch, but democracy (however imperfect) is the only effective tool for creating the change we want. There is no better alternative, and no one who is going to create it for us.

We are the heroes we’ve been waiting for.

We have choices. Right now, the first most important thing we can do is choose to not give up. Yes, these times are confusing and stressful, but democracy is how we get things get done. Be willing to look like a fool for hoping in the promise of democracy. Risk mockery for believing democracy can succeed.

Another choice you can make is to limit anything that pulls you into fear, hopelessness, or cynicism. Many on our team find news-watching quite stressful, preferring instead to read the news at their own pace. Consume less media. Consume it more thoughtfully. These practices are choices that can build resilience and focus, and allowing you to take necessary breaks.

If you’re new to civic engagement, another choice is to practice speaking up. Most of the actions in the Americans of Conscience Checklist include three-sentence scripts you can write, email, or recite to elected officials. Letting them know what you believe matters. Even if you think you’re a pest, it is literally their job to listen to you. And since they mostly listen to deep-pocketed donors, you absolutely deserve three minutes to have your views counted.

That said, if you’ve been civically engaged for some time, now might be moment to make a new choice. Consider requesting to meet in person with an elected official. Use this meeting to share stories about how a particular policy or agenda affects your life.

For example, I recently contacted my state representative to describe the symptoms of perimenopause and the reasons my doctor prescribed Estradiol. As an older man, he really might not know, “It’s not just used for birth control.”

Will he think twice before trying to restrict access to this medication by people of childbearing age or transgender people? I can’t say for sure, but now he understands that “birth control” has additional medical benefits that improve the lives of his constituents.

These conversations matter. In fact, sharing stories is at the heart of a thriving democracy. Knowing another person’s story doesn’t just change minds, it changes hearts. So screw up your courage and go meet with them. (Michigan State has a great how-to guide.)

No matter how bleak or dire current events may seem, remember that we always have choices. There is always at least one thing you and I can do to resist the tide of fascism and restore hope and the promise of true justice in our nation.

In the hardest moments, what keeps me going is this question: Where do I think our country will be twenty years if I do nothing?

I often don’t like what I imagine, and I recommit to being part of the solution. If you don’t like what you imagine 20 years from now, take action. Speak up. Make a call. Show up. Simplify. Join something.

The power of the People is still stronger than hate.

2 Comments

  1. 5-5-23
    If everyone did some of these suggestions we would have a happier more just society.
    Thanks

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