Archive | January 2017

Calling all people of good conscience

image“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

It’s unclear who first said this famous quote or a variation of it. But its truth is very clear — self-evident in the same sense that Thomas Jefferson used the word when he penned the Declaration of Independence. And in my opinion, the recent actions by Donald Trump and his cronies make that quote a call to action right now for all people of good conscience.

The call to action applies to all the people who voted for someone other than Donald Trump in the last presidential election. It applies to those people who didn’t bother to vote. It applies to those people who were unable to cast a ballot as a result of voter suppression efforts that had a disproportionate impact upon people of color and those who are poor.

And that call to action applies most of all to people who voted for Trump but keep insisting that they are not racist, bigoted, sexist or against basic constitutional freedoms.

I am not willing to accept the platitudes of people who said I shouldn’t worry because the president would have good advisors. Nor am I willing to give a pass to anyone who claimed that they were not supporting all the vile things Trump espoused during the campaign, but only voted for him or went with a third-party candidate (thus giving Trump a majority in a state) because they wanted to shake things up in Washington and see a return of economic prosperity.

By doing nothing now, those people are backing all the awful things the new regime is doing. That regime is working to get rid of protections for people who need health insurance in order to stay alive. It is blatantly violating the civil rights of people who have a lawful right to be in the United States. It is imposing its views of religion upon third parties (both inside and outside the United States), while cutting off basic health services. It is shutting the borders to refugees and fomenting hate.

That government is allowing conflicts of interest to persist while Trump and others keep their tax returns secret. That government is disparaging a free press. It is shortcutting science-based decision-making and cutting off public access to information. That government’s orders are denying due process. And statements and actions from its leaders are laying the groundwork for further erosion of first amendment freedoms and other constitutional rights.

If any people who claim they voted for Trump really have any decency, they will speak out publicly and denounce those actions.

They will go on social media and post a picture of themselves at a march or other demonstration in support of human rights or post a picture of their sizable donation check to the ACLU or another organization fighting against the new regime’s efforts to bolster hate and suppress basic freedoms. And they will paste on their profile pages a copy of their emails or call logs to the government, objecting to these wrongs.

Those people must also show me that they are taking affirmative steps to support efforts to have a return to transparency in the government’s dealings, to preserve core provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and to protect the American people from the evils of conflicts of interest by Trump and his cronies.

Otherwise, don’t expect me to believe that you are really good people. Frankly, in my view, people whose actions helped get this regime into power and who now stay silent share in culpability and are in a sense collaborators.

The Constitution starts with the words, “We the People.” Well, we the people need to stand up for the rule of law and everything that the Constitution stands for. We need to speak out and take lawful action in whatever areas of influence we have. And we ALL need to do it now, particularly those people who claim they really are good people, regardless of whom they voted for.

As the quotation says, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

Happy New Year?

Saying “Happy New Year” seems kind of odd when I’m anything but happy. But hey, I want other people to be happy right? And it would be nasty and rude to snap at other people when they give me a similar greeting.

Last year started out a lot happier. My husband was with me, and we went for a lovely hike after arriving back home after a great trip out of town with our kids. And although one of our daughters had been very ill in 2015, last year dawned with hope. She had finished a very strenuous medical regimen, and all indications were that she would get better and put aside the disease that had plagued her the whole year before.

Image (c) K.M. Kowalski.

Image (c) K.M. Kowalski.

As the year continued, our hope grew. Our daughter’s tests came back with good news in January, and she was stronger when I saw her in February.

That same month, my husband drove six hours while I was away at a conference so we could be together on Valentine’s Day. The following month, we were again with our daughters for Easter. And in April our daughters came to join us for Opening Day—although due to a game postponement we wound up going out for great Lebanese food instead.

Meanwhile, things were looking up for my husband and me. We were both more in love than ever. On Mother’s Day last year we went for a challenging hike, lunched at a winery, rested a bit at home and then had a romantic dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We had planned a trip to Europe for late spring. And when I was out of town visiting my daughters in mid-May, the last words my husband said to me in a phone call were: “I love you. I’m looking forward to Europe.”

They were the last words I would ever hear from him. Just after my plane landed on my return trip, I learned that he had died while I was away.

And then, as if that weren’t enough, our daughter learned later in the summer that her disease had returned. More surgery and additional medical treatments would be needed. And now she, I and our whole family are praying that she’ll be okay.

So, no, I’m not in an especially gleeful mood. I’m not feeling particularly happy.

But I appreciated people who told me “Merry Christmas.” Christmas was indeed rough without the love of my life, and I was feeling anxious about lots of things. Yet there also were moments that were merry: my grandson asking “Again? Again?” when he wanted me to give the dreidel another spin or set the balls into continuous motion on his Pound and Roll Tower; having him curl up next to me as we read and hearing him say “more good book” at the end; wandering through a Christmas lights display at an arboretum; sharing fun with my daughters’ friends; going to church together; hiking through the woods; and more.

Christmas was different, but under the circumstances, it was as lovely as it could be.

This new year will be different too. And, under the circumstances, I hope it will be as happy as possible.

So, yes, I want people to wish me a happy new year. And I want their prayers for me and my family.

Happy new year, everyone!