When I was a child, I used to dream about being the next Martin Luther King, Jr. The next Rosa Parks. The next Victoria Woodhull.
I was going to be a world-shaker, one of the people who refused to accept the horrors of the world and forced the world to change rather than changing to live within the world.
Over time, as I learned more about myself, and about the world, I accepted that this was one dream that couldn’t be. I don’t people well enough to be in the forefront of any movement, my anxiety and autism mean just taking part in a march, never mind leading one, would be impossible. And God knows I will never be respectable enough to be anyone’s flash point in this mad world.
So I turned my eyes to smaller versions of the same goal.
I would be a thought-leader in the polyamory communities. A writer whose fiction grabbed minds and changed hearts. An online educator who helped people see and understand experiences and life-paths they had previously dismissed or denigrated. A homemaker who created a safe place for at least some of the people who have been chewed up and spit out by this world. A foster parent.
So many dreams. Some of them, I made progress towards, perhaps achieved in some small way. Many others are still on my to-do list.
But in all my dreamings, my hopes, my plans, my goals, there was one thing I never imagined I might be:
I have never written directly about politics on my blog or website. Indirectly, yes. The personal, after all, is political. I can’t write about being polyamorous, or bisexual, or non binary, or having trans partners, or disability, or mental illness, or poverty, or, oh, any number of other things I have written on, without there being politics lurking beneath the surface.
But as the ancient book says,
To everything there is a season.
I pride myself on my words, but words fail me.
How can I encapsulate the journey that brought me to this point? Where do I start? What do I say?
Because the truth is, that if you are in the US, and you follow politics at all, you know what this is about. Whatever your reaction, your thoughts, your beliefs, you can’t have even the most peripheral knowledge of what is going on in the US right now and not know. You’ve heard of it, seen the reports, had your own thoughts about concentration camp vs internment camp and who to believe in the ongoing political PR battles.
But, in the end it comes down to just four words:
Never again is now.
I have been tortured for weeks by one thought:
What will I tell my children?
Years from now, when they ask me what happened, when the ask me why, when they ask me what I did — what answer will I give them?
I cannot march. I cannot stand in blockades. I can’t even give much in the way of money.
But every time I find myself agonizing over this question, I find something else I can do.
Today, I am asking you:
What will you tell your children?
Years from now, when this is all over, what will you say?
If you disagree with me, and yet have continued this far, thank you. I know it is a hard thing for many people. You have your reasons for feeling, for believing as you do. I’m not going to dismiss that. Or tell you that believing I’m over-reacting or exaggerating makes you a bad person. Politics have gotten so angry, so many people have been crying wolf, and it’s so hard to know who and what to believe.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this isn’t the next step on the road to genocide.* But I ask you to seriously consider something:
If I am wrong, what is the harm in taking steps to ensure that detained children have medical care, decent food, and decent shelter? Even if the effort is wasted, is the cost so very high?
If you are wrong, what is the harm in not taking those steps? Is the cost of being wrong one you are willing to pay?
History always has the best quotes, so I’ll borrow this one, said on the eve of a long ago civil war:
I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
*Did you know that at first the Nazis only rounded up foreign Jews? Invaders, job stealers, disease carriers… do you know enough of the history to understand why the words used about (illegal) immigrants and asylum seekers are physically painful to those of us who do know it?
If you want to do something, but don’t know what you can do, here are a few things:
Call your congress critters and urge them to increase funding for immigration services.
Election year is coming up. If your congress critters or representatives are running, let them know that concentration camps and fear mongering are not acceptable in the US.
Donate to Raices and other groups that provide free and low cost legal services to asylum seekers.
Learn about the immigration process and share what you learn with friends, family, and on social media. (Did you know that an asylum seeker not only can but *must* enter the US before they can apply for asylum? “To obtain asylum through the affirmative asylum process you must be physically present in the United States. You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status.” — USCIS website)
Learn about the concentration camps and share what you learn with friends, family and on social media.
Contact your local government reps. Some states, counties, and cities have contracts with ICE. Urge your local government to cut any such contracts.
Get with the leaders of your church, school, company, etc, and see what your community can do to fight back.
Get out there and take part in those blockades, marches, and other in-the-wilds activism. Take an extra sign for those of us who physically or mentally can’t get there with you, but are there in spirit.
I refuse to be futile. I can make a difference.
So can you.