So, the gremlins ate one of my posts for the A-Z challenge, but the other one that’s not posted? Yeah, well I did warn you on the first day that I have the attention span of a gnat. In the past, I’ve used those failings as a reason to give up, rather than pick myself up and get back at it. That’s why, originally, today’s post was going to be about Determination. But it’s not, because today is primary day in Wisconsin, and I felt as though Democracy was a much more fitting word for D-day.
If you go to YouTube and type in “This is what democracy looks like,” many of the results will show Wisconsin’s rotunda five years ago. When our state was on the national radar due to policies put in place by the new governor. Now, I’m not going to go into the political aspect of that issue, because that’s not what this blog is about.
I still get chills when I watch the videos. Tears form in the corners of my eyes as I remember the pure emotion radiating out of our capitol. I was there. More than once. It was in one of those halls where I was knocked off balance when I found myself acting like a salmon swimming upstream. The stream being a throng of reporters, protesters, and others all gathered around someone I couldn’t see. When he came into view, I was standing less than two feet away from none other than Rev. Jesse Jackson. Love or hate the guy, that was a pretty cool moment in my life.
“This is what democracy looks like!” we chanted. Strangers became friends through those long hours, simply because we were all fighting for what we feel is right. But was that what democracy looks like?
Looking back on the time in history, and again what I see going on in states like North Carolina and Mississippi, I can’t help but wonder if we’re where we are as a nation because we’d forgotten what democracy looked like for far too long. People shrugged when asked why they didn’t vote, often saying that there’s no point because their voice doesn’t really matter.
The problem with that thinking is that when you think your voice doesn’t matter, it is silenced. And then, we find ourselves in situations like Wisconsin five years ago, like North Carolina last month, like Mississippi today, and we’re outraged. We’re reactionary. But by then, the damage may be unfixable.
What does this have to do with writing? (since this is supposed to be a writer’s journal of sorts)
Everything. At least to me.
When HB2 passed in North Carolina, my inbox exploded with messages from people telling me I should rethink my move. If I was a single woman moving for the hell of it, that might have been a possibility, but would it have been the right choice?
I don’t think so. I’ve been incredibly blessed. I am my own boss, and to some extent, I can choose my own hours. That means I have the opportunity to find ways to make my voice heard. I could sit on my couch in Wisconsin, outraged by the injustice, or I can do something. Change doesn’t come about because people sit on Facebook screaming about how upset they are. Change takes work. Work takes time. Time is something I can give.
That is what democracy looks like. There’s no way of knowing whether the candidates I choose to support will win in the general elections, but by getting out there and encouraging others to use their voices, I am a part of democracy. I am what democracy looks like.