I don’t know about the rest of you, but it seems like every day I wake up, read the news, and see a new headline that scares the shit out of me. International troubles aside, I am talking solely about domestic issues here. I’m 30 years old. I know that before my time, there have been very troubling times in our world, and that we have made it through. I’m sure to some who have been around a bit longer than me, what is happening right now may not be such a big deal. But, for someone of my generation, I think it is.
I have always been a pretty politically aware person. I keep up on what is happening in the world and generally have strong opinions about it. There have always been things that worried me, but never with such constancy as now. I am a self-described progressive liberal feminist. I have spent my adult career working (both paid and unpaid at times) to combat oppressions that are so damn pervasive in our country. I’ve always been concerned with the state of things and have seen huge opportunities for improvement in the way our government and our societal structures function. However, lately things have changed. Up until recently, I have generally felt that while changes need to happen, we were making progress (however small) with overcoming issues such as sexism, racism, classism, et cetera. I can’t say that any longer.
I am suddenly acutely aware of the violent, angry push back of conservative minded people looking to return to a status quo where oppression is not only accepted, but promoted, and falsely couched in the language of “family values” and “tradition”. Please hear me that I am not using the term conservative to blast everyone who identifies this way politically. I have, in my life, met many conservatives who may differ greatly in their views from me, but do so with respect for me as a person and without the vitriol that is loudly present in the voices of so many others. It is that vitriol, hatred, and ignorance that is, quite frankly, pissing me off these days – and terrifying me.
I will readily admit that I was naïve enough to believe that things couldn’t get this bad with a Democrat in The White House. Some part of me believed that if we could just have someone as a gatekeeper, so to speak, we could at least hold steady, if not gain ground. But, was I ever wrong. Daily, I am seeing and hearing massive setbacks. More and more people are getting on board with these so called ‘family values’ that seek to limit women’s abilities to make choices for themselves; prevent gays and lesbians from being able to live open, safe lives; and reinforce class structures that serve to keep millions without access to education, proper healthcare, and safe housing.
This is unacceptable to me. And, I honestly don’t understand why it isn’t unacceptable to everyone else. I feel that those promoting these beliefs, policies, and formal legislation are oblivious to the fact that they are, in fact, hurting themselves, too (no matter how clichéd that sounds). I’m sure most of you have heard the saying “No one is free when others are oppressed.” Now, I am not generally one to throw quotes around, but this has never felt more true to me than it does now. Complicating these matters further is that it seems as though people have completely stopped listening to one another. It’s been a VERY long time since I met someone of this opposing mindset who is willing to truly hear an alternative viewpoint; which has left me venting to those who are already understanding of my views and, thus, making no forward momentum in changing things. I don’t know what the solution is to these issues, but I do know that respect for all people and a willingness to see things from multiple perspectives is a key step. Though difficult at times, I will continue to strive to do this and invite others to join me. And, I will continue to take action where I can, financially if possible, but certainly through being an active constituent, an instigator of dialogue, and a distributer of information. Wish me luck?