Last weekend my mom and Lucy and I went to the Capitol. There was a demonstration going on, the message of said demonstration seeming to be “get engaged”, civically-speaking. It was kind of hard to tell. But there were snacks, and a jug band and face-painting and old hippies dancing so it was all good. And at least they were out there, saying something.
I’ve been to the Capitol to protest plenty of times now. I’ve taken both of my kids with me, so that they see it’s not difficult or intimidating to get involved with a cause and just head down to the state house.
I was raised to participate in the processes that affect my life and that it was a duty and an honor to exercise that right. But I guess not everyone feels that way.
I like a program that broadcasts on my local NPR station, KUT. It’s called Think. Every day there’s a different topic about which to Think, and an expert guest or two. Friday, they were broadcasting from UT, and had on a couple of journalists and a political scientist from the university. They were talking about integrity in journalism, and then kind of segued into “how did we get here?” Meaning, to this place with this president and the mess this country is in currently. So the political scientist basically says that we’re here because of a lack of civic education and a contingent of people who cast protest votes. People were angry and voted for Trump essentially “hocking a loogie” at a process with which they were frustrated. Which is a terrible and ignorant way to use a vote. Then there was the contingent of people who just didn’t show up at all. Which is even more shameful.
He went on to tell a story about a small school district (in Pennsylvania, maybe? Click on the link above and go to Sep. 22 episode to listen.) where there was a school board election and pretty much no one turned out to vote. Consequently, the entire board ended up being creationist. Well, naturally they changed the curriculum to a creationist curriculum which pissed a lot of people off and so they sued. But then they lost, and had to pay damages to the tune of about 6.4 million dollars. And they were stuck with bad science and religion in the classroom. All because everyone thought it was someone else’s job to vote.
So this did get me thinking. About what we believe in, and what we stand for. Ask anyone what they believe in, and they’ll tell you something. Could be climate change. Could be campaign reform or racial equality or kindness to all living things or a woman’s right to govern her body as she sees fit. Could be things on the opposite end of the spectrum, too, but this is my blog and I don’t want to represent that end of the spectrum. Anyway, everyone believes in something. But believing in something isn’t enough.
If you want a place at the table, you must stand for something. And I mean that literally. You must stand in a voting booth and vote on your beliefs. You must stand in solidarity with others doing active work to make change for the things they believe. You must speak, march, and even kneel…kneeling is definitely standing, too.
It is not enough to believe something. If you don’t do the work, your beliefs just don’t matter. It’s as if there is no belief at all. So what do YOU stand for? I’m asking myself this question although I know many of the answers. But it’s good to check in with yourself and define it, and then ask yourself if you are taking a stand and using your vote, your voice, your body and your resources. Because if you’re not, you might as well be excused from the table, and go sit in the science lab trying to turn water into wine.