Activism Is the Only Choice for Me

I was politically active in the 60s because I despised the war in Vietnam, and because my brother was drafted to fight in that miserable place. He’s lucky he came home alive. So I stood up to police in riot gear on my campus, sat down in streets to obstruct buses of new army recruits for the war, and showed up wherever possible to protest the war.

The present unrest in our country is a different kind of
challenge. Having been a bit too complacent the past few decades while raising a family and working full-time, I now feel the call to show up and speak up once again. I do not mean to alienate anyone in this writing community with this post but I do feel it’s important to speak up when you feel so strongly about something.

In a recent post I described a group of senior activists I’ve joined who call themselves Indivisible Huntington. Huntington is the town where I live. Indivisible is an umbrella name for a bunch of activist groups who have decided to work together under one banner to resist some of the disturbing changes that are beginning to happen in our government. Some of the people in my group are survivors of the Holocaust and they are very upset about the deportations and bans. Others are very concerned about possible Russian intervention in our elections.
All are worried about what will happen to their healthcare.

Today I, and a few other Indivisibles, attended a small rally in the nearby, historic town of Oyster Bay organized by a group that calls itself Long Island Activists. We were visiting Senator Carl Marcellino’s office (Repub.) to voice our dissatisfaction with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and to show our support for a single-payer health care system in New York.

I actually sat in the Senator’s office with another protester and discussed the issues of health care with the Senator’s Communications Director. I had my personal reasons for being dissatisfied with the new healthcare plan, and the man whom I sat next to was armed with plenty of facts about cost effectiveness and how a single-payer plan would, in the end, cost the nation less. I learned a lot from just listening to him, and from having to explain my own position to this woman.

Then we went outdoors, stood on a local street corner with a few signs and chanted “Health Care for All.” We were mostly ignored; some people rolled up their car windows, one driver beeped (a sign of agreement), and one young man taunted us with a Trump slogan.

This is not easy. It requires a huge amount of focus, dedication and faith that good change can happen. It means giving up hours each week and being present in places when I’d rather be home. But I feel I have no choice. I am not happy with what I see happening to our country, so I feel I no longer have the option to do nothing.

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17 thoughts on “Activism Is the Only Choice for Me”

  1. Yay, you and your Indivisibles for showing up for us. Thank you, thank you. The undercurrent of the times is deadly serious and I’m afraid those who sit by letting it happen will realize their mistake when it’s too late. Again, thank you for being in uncomfortable places and speaking out.

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    1. These are deadly serious times. It’s a wake up call for those who thought our system of checks and balances would work automatically. No one has ever confronted this kind of “coloring outside the lines” government before, and our system seems paralyzed by it.

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  2. Thank you! I, too, was an activist is the 60’s and 70’s and participated in sit-ins and marches. I have made my voice heard recently with phone calls, petitions, and emails – much more than I have done in the past 40 years, but perhaps it is time to do more. Voices like yours inspire me to want to do more.

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  3. Good for you and the group. If no one does anything or voices their opinions how will the powers that be know of people’s dissatisfaction? If we don’t stand up for what we believe in nothing changes.

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    1. That’s a lesson I’ve been teaching my daughter, and it’s working. She’s learning to stand up for herself in job situations. That’s something I was never taught and had to learn the hard way.

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  4. How inspiring! I have been devoting an hour each day to calling, speaking to other people in my community, tweeting, and protesting! I have vowed to do one act each day to work for change. I think my first actions were inspired by my 4th grade teacher when we wrote our opinions for the local paper about the Iranian hostage crisis. I haven’t stopped.

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    1. I applaud your daily efforts. That’s a big amount of your personal time devoted to change. I made a pact with myself to sign petitions, etc., but primarily to engage in one more significant action per week…attending a meeting, showing up for a rally, writing a letter. Tomorrow I will cooperate with the Without a Woman day by not purchasing anything, and laying low. Nice to hear from a kindred spirit.

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