Columnist J.M. Sorrell: A state of emergency

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a town hall campaign stop, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. AP PHOTO/Matt York

Published: 9/4/2019 9:20:01 AM

I watched most of the Star Trek series through Voyager, and many times the ship’s crews were on yellow alert because of a potential threat. A dangerous, imminent threat would necessitate red alert. The status of democracy in the United States has an orange to red hue in the current moment. We are in a state of emergency. 

Fear can be immobilizing. It is useful to propel one to run away from danger, but it is an unproductive state for the long haul. Several examples come to mind. 

First, there is this conventional mindset that Joe Biden is the safe choice to defeat Trump in 2020. I believe he would lose soundly to Trump. When a faux Republican (a middle of the road Democrat) runs against an actual Republican, history has shown us that the real Republican wins. To win, a Democrat has to show a distinction between her/himself and s/he has to lay out the reasons why voting for her/him is in one’s best interests. All Biden has is his good ole boy privileged, presumptive status. His record is dismal. And he has been lying a lot lately.  Do we want another liar in the White House?

A second example is the issue of guns. Fear has people buying more guns rather than seeing the ludicrous logic of doing this. Other countries reduce guns after mass shootings. If we were brave and not fearful, the red alert status would propel us into sound action. As long as we weigh the so-called rights of people to own and carry guns with the same importance of reducing violence, things will get worse.  Patriarchal power is deep, and most of those shooters have abused women or threatened to rape or kill them. 

Pointing the finger at mental illness is a deflection. Background checks will not take into account misogynistic and racist belief systems. Nothing on the table for gun control puts a dent in the root of violence and the need to teach boys to be peacemakers.

The future of our democracy is fragile and uncertain. Evil is wearing a flag and cloaked in religion as we are on red alert. I was at a conference in 2006 where Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson said, “We are at the end of the patriarchal era of religion, and they are not going down without a fight.” This holds true for the sociopolitical white male dynasty as well. How do we convince people absorbed in greed and bigotry that everyone wins when equity is at play? That equality serves the greater good? That there is room on the playground for an increasingly diverse tapestry of people?

Let’s be insistent rather than fearful or hesitant. And let’s be clear. When leaders take a stand for kindness and justice, we need to ensure they do not stand alone. A sociopath, the anti-Christ if you will, is occupying the White House. He is taking us down with him if we allow it. When AOC or anyone of her ilk speak the truth, we need to listen and support her. We cannot meet the MAGA people in the fictitious middle.

We need to function in the midst of our collective trauma, we need to fight for our democracy, and there is no middle ground in extreme bias, injustice or inequality. As we model ethically coherent positions, we are not the haters or the intolerant ones. I believe that things are getting better on a deeper level as we are addressing racism, xenophobia and misogyny in unprecedented ways. It is ugly because the norms of centuries of bias are revealed. Now things can truly change.

James Baldwin wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.” Fear is not the answer; action is. We have an opportunity each day to be part of the solution. When I am less than kind or my neurodiverse self feels wounded and misunderstood by others, I have to carry on. The Holodeck helps. Dog walks. A good book. Then return to action. Small kind deeds, larger gestures — it all counts.

Elizabeth Warren is the best presidential candidate we have. She will defeat Trump and  she will serve the country well. Castro as her running mate? Dream team. Direction? Out of the state of emergency. Leadership that invites participation rather than preying upon fear. Vote!

J.M. Sorrell is a social justice activist, a trainer and a health care advocate. She persists as a nasty woman because she believes in personal responsibility for future generations.




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