I’ll keep this short because as the title gives away, it’s a simple, and direct call-to-action.
This magical time between the holidays is an ideal time to reflect on what we did and how we want to show up in the future. This is usually reserved for personal and business goals, but nowadays we have new homework: political engagement. It’s not extra credit, it’s required.
In case you need some time to answer the question, I’d like to share my tiny but mighty and loaded with significance Christmas tree from 2020 with you:
Rosemary: for remembrance. Remembering what transpired. Who we met. Who we lost. What happened.
I used to live next door to a woman who was a Quaker activist named Peg Morton. At 70-something, she crossed the line protesting the goings-on at Fort Benning Georgia, also known as the School of the Americas, a U.S. military training facility responsible for training soldiers in counterinsurgency and political repression in Latin America. For crossing a federal line, she served a multiple month federal prison sentence. Her friends planted a rosemary bush in her yard to remind her neighbors why she was gone and for my neighbor to remember the bravery of what she did when she returned. I’ve been obsessed with rosemary ever since she shared her story with me.
Re-membering means connecting again and reminding ourselves that we are more alike than we are separate. Also, delicious aromatics to bake with. And no tree to discard!
Circles: to remind ourselves that precious little in this world, including progress, is linear, but rather an interwoven network of connective threads, networks, color spectrums, etc. And speaking of color…
Rainbows: to honor the LGBTQIA community and the different shades of light that reside in all of us.
Lace: this was a handmade gift I received years ago from a conservative relative – we’re talking about someone who used to enter family members’ houses in my grandparents’ generation and declare loudly: “The devil is in this home!” It serves as a beautiful foundation for more inclusive, less binary, and harmful spiritual beliefs to emerge and be expressed in future generations. It’s also a reminder that it’s possible to honor and respect people for their beliefs they have and the art they create even if they cannot reciprocate the favor.
The lace also reminds me of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the tireless and fierce work she did in the name of gender equality throughout her life and during her time serving in the highest court of the United States. Rest in peace and power, RGB.
R & R: these are my and my partner’s first initials and these ornaments serve as a shiny reminder for us to “rest and relax”.
Fresh flowers: gorgeous and celebratory, especially in the winter months.
Stacey Abrams ornament: she is the angel at the top of my tree this year and a tireless leader I throw my support behind for her efforts to address voter suppression. She serves as a reminder of the power of Black women and how the voices and contributions of women of color must be amplified as we move towards a racially equitable society.
Blue wave bookends: a secret Santa gift I received from one of the ladies I work with to get democratic leaders elected (not pictured, but trust me they are gorgeous and very fitting for 2020!)
It was a simple Christmas tree, but it was filled with meaning this year and it brings me joy to share it with you.
Okay. You ready?
Have you had some time to think about how you’ll stay politically engaged in 2021 and beyond?
I’ll go first. Here’s my plan:
- Make phone calls to Democratic voters in Georgia urging them to vote in the run-off election on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021.
- Vote in every election. Every. Damn. Year.
- Have real conversations about issues and candidates that matter to me with friends and acquaintances.
- Find out if there’s an organization formed to advocate for nationwide vote-by-mail and volunteer or donate money to them. I’m still searching for a group like this, so if you know one, please share it with me in the comments below.
The last four-years were hard and a more sane presidential leader was elected by a thread. This is unacceptable. Even if you don’t consider yourself political as I once did, those days are over. No more hiding. You must take action. The world cannot afford the ill-effects of the political disengagement of women. When women show up to vote and advocate for human rights, the world is a better, safer, and more progressive place to live.
I’m not saying you need to become the next AOC (although if you feel so inspired, please for the love of goddess, run for office). I am saying selective ignorance is no longer an option. Do your best to consume news, even if just for five minutes a day. Remember to talk, but also listen and learn from those who have different opinions than yours. This doesn’t mean accepting verbal abuse and rude behavior, but it does mean having conversations that may make your brain scream: “THIS IS UNCOMFORTABLE!” All new skills are. It will get easier, I promise.
Ask yourself every day: what am I doing to stay politically engaged? And when you have your answer, take action. No amount of volunteering, donations, or even simple conversations are too small to matter. It all counts. Do not disengage in the face of overwhelm; keep your actions small and regular, big and exaggerated, and or somewhere in the middle depending on the time, energy, and money you can afford at the moment.
My 2020 takeaway wish for you is to make this question yours. Spread it around. May positive political engagement be more contagious than Covid-19 in 2021 and the years to come.