Dr.Seuss Meets Donald Trump

How to help your child make sense of it all?…Have no fear! Horton is here!

When our kids watch the marches, the protests at airports, the unrelenting, ever growing, global outcry over Trump’s edicts,  do we know how they are taking all this in, and if so, what it means?

After an evening’s digest of watching massive crowds protesting Trump’s immigration and refugee “executive orders” it was time to put the kids to bed, which is never without a bedtime story. This night our 5-year-old’s request was, “Dad, read Horton Hears A Who!”

Half asleep myself, I opened the bright orange Dr. Seuss book with that unforgettable Horton the elephant on the cover and I began…Perhaps you know the story.

Upon discovering a whole Who village on a clover’s head, Horton bravely protects them from Who deniers, evil birds of prey, and monkeys who beat and caged him, but all the while he holds the delicate clover and the Whos’ lives wrapped by his faithful trunk.

Then, these words clicked…sure as a Dr. Seuss rhyme.

“But he (Horton) managed to call/To the (Who) Mayor: Don’t give up! I believe in you all!/ A person’s a person, no matter how small! And you very small persons will not have to die/If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!”
After all attempts to yell, scream, bang pots and more, still the Who people were not heard. Still they were in danger of extinction by the hard-hearted jungle creatures who harassed Horton.

But, then, the mayor finds one small Who boy who had not joined the ruckus.

“This,” cried the Mayor, “is your town’s darkest hour!/ The time for all Whos who have blood that is red/To come to the aid of their country!” he said./ We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!/So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”

The young Who’s “Yopp” was the decisive voice!

“That one small, extra Yopp put it over!/ Finally, at last! From that speck on that clover/Their voices were heard!..”

The Whos were saved. The menacing kangaroo, threatening their demise, finally listened and…once he heard, once he acknowledged the Whos’ existence, he had a change of heart.

“From now on, you know what I’m planning to do?/From now on, I’m going to protect them with you!/…From sun in the summer. From rain when it’s fall-ish, I’m going to protect them. No matter how small-ish!”

Someone send “Horton Hears A Who!” to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, D.C. Address it to “Donald Trump and Staff” and inscribe it with these words, “For every bedtime until you hear us, Mr. President.”

And, perhaps, this Horton story just might help you explain to your children or grandchildren just how important their voices are, no matter how small. Perhaps this book may help them better grasp why YOU are out there, in the marches, organizing local resistance groups, getting up, getting out, and NOT giving up!

Good reading and sleep well! I have a feeling you’re going to need your rest.

The Unlikely Student

 

 

 

 

Complacency = Complicity

 “I don’t think we can rely on governments, regardless of who is in power, to do the work that only mass movements can do. I think what is most important about the sustained demonstrations that are now happening is that they are having the effect of refusing to allow these issues to die.”  

Quote by Angela Davis, from, “We Have To Talk about Systemic Change”, ”  an interview published in her 2016 book,  “Freedom is a Constant Struggle.”

The context of this quote is the public demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by police.

This quote, however, is especially relevant today as our complicit officials and masses  crown Donald Trump our 45th President of the United States of America.

Yes,  I said it.”Complicit,” using the dictionary definition, “involvement as an accomplice in a questionable act or crime.”  This is a proper descriptor for those who directly or indirectly, willingly or unknowingly, through complacency,  had hand in promoting, practicing or passively allowing the Trump machine a place of such power knowing full-well his promise to demolish or gut strides made on behalf of equality and the environment.

Slate Magazine’s , wrote on January 16, this suggestion. “There is everywhere a new enthusiasm for grassroots political, labor, and community organizing. All of this is good. None of it is enough.” What is more effective, says Osita, is deciding to run for office, local, state or national.

Comparing this to Angela Davis’ quote that we cannot count on governments, but need to emphasize grassroots movements, is to me not contradictory to Nwanevu’s point for getting into politics.

What is needed is solidarity...knowing who will champion the causes of the oppressed and most vulnerable.

We need people inside and outside the so-called “beltway” and in the highways and byways and alleyways of our country, making themselves not only heard but a united force, which can strike at the heart of what all politicians fear most…recall…or being unseated in the next election cycle.

This is why I joined the local chapter of Equity PAC, whose purpose it is to support equity-minded candidates to run for office on any governmental level they can manage.

For those of us who do not, or cannot, heed the call to public service,  we must build on the courage and the examples of the Women’s March on Washington, going on as this is written, or the Occupy and Dakota pipeline  resistance  groups.

What we cannot do, not now or ever, is shrink into complacency, now that Trump has been “sworn in” as president of a divided country.

Let’s go back to the election and remember what put him in the While House.

What I contend is that, as usual in this country, people voted based on what they thought is “good” for themselves. We are an incredibly selfish people.

Think about it! Did we for one minute think, “I are not voting for myself or for my children. I am voting for the oppressed and those who will be hurt most by this or that candidate’s policies.”

All the candidates, throughout the entire pre-election circus, said they were champions for “the middle class.”

Will we ever, ever hear a candidate say, “I am running on behalf of those in poverty. I want to make life better for those who have been disenfranchised in this country. Those who are not, on an economic scale, even considered close to being “middle class.”

Until and unless a candidate is honestly willing to put their reputation on the line for those in poverty, we will never have a president for “all the people.”

 

Dr. Martin Luther King is often quoted as saying, “Sunday morning at 11 AM is the most segregated hour in America,” referring to the ethnocentric houses of worship we have here.

To me, the time in the voting booth is the “most selfish moment” in America. We only vote in candidates who we think will better our personal lives, and if our poorer neighbors get a lift, OK too.

Given this self-centered worldview, we must acknowledge we are blind to the true needs of “others” in our society, and, upon whose backs most of the real work is done here in America for the least wages and most exploitation.

Yes, we need to encourage people of good faith and intentions to get into public life. But we must then hold those we trusted with our votes to be accountable not to re-election, and not even those who put them into office. We need elected persons, and those appointed to non-elected offices, to put the poorest among us FIRST!

When we see that, we can see our way to an American that can be … better.

The struggle continues. Spurred on with new vigor because Trump is in the whitest of White Houses, and because we care for a nation of people he cannot see from his tower of power.

Centrists are calling for dialog, being willing to compromise, to “work across the aisle.”

What we need first,  before we “dialog” is to know where we stand. What we will never give away. What we are morally and ethically bound to uphold.

We need to own the struggle. It has many names. Many voices. Many faces. We must remember we ARE the struggle if we are anything, or anyone, at all.

The Unlikely Student

 

 

 


 

Solidarity Wins!

We have one thing to thank Donald Trump for and that is the reawakening of passionate people across the country who refuse to accept as a “new normal” the erosion of the progress made thus far on issues domestic and foreign.

Everywhere, organizations formal and informal, local and national, are emerging to stand up for the common good, for the disenfranchised, for equity and justice and Mother Earth.

Locally, I am a member of the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club to stand for land, resources and climate change issues.

I joined Equity PAC, organized to support candidates who champion equity platforms while keeping watch over non-elected, appointed officials who influence public policies, reminding them they too are accountable to the public.

Just a few miles from my home town, the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance is formalizing their multi-issue strategies for this year, bringing together people who are passionate about any one or more causes.

On a national scale, the rise of “Our Revolution” is a movement inclusive of a broad range of key equity and social justice issues born out of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Another organization, “Indivisible,” published an online guidebook written by experts familiar with the workings of the national government. The publication is a great step-by-step, start-up manual for grassroots organizers.

All this is happening…now…as people emerge from their valleys of post-election despair  and begin mobilizing their hands and feet, hearts and minds and finding like-minded folk to join the struggle.

Each new organization has its own agenda, but, let us not be so “my cause-focused” that we divert ourselves from the overall national agenda of advocacy pertaining to the welfare of all, including the planet itself.

Part of my activism is to champion “Solidarity” – creating awareness and links among and between as many groups as I can come to know, in the struggle, no matter which cause is on whose agenda.

In my next blog I will detail my personal action plan for boosting solidarity!

All issues are linked. All organizations, I urge, need to link in mutual support of each other’s mission if we are to make our voices heard and actions count.

For starters, solidarity begins like this…

  1. Be aware of other organizations’ existence.
  2. Get to know each other’s missions and purpose.
  3. Attend each other’s events and encourage your supports to attend as well.
  4. Invite other organizations’ leadership to meet occasionally to discuss strategies, progress, challenges and ways to join together on common causes.
  5. Create a cross-organizations’ “watch lists” of legislators, candidates, (local, state, national) whose agendas threaten your or others’ causes. Prepare effective strategies to influence outcomes.
  6. Be aware of “open seats” on local commissions and advisory councils which you can urge people, who demonstrate equity and justice action, to put their names up for filling these open, non-elected seats. (Note: This is where real public policy happens.)
  7. Know the nominees for government appointments from the President’s Cabinet on down through all departments. Contact the review committees’ members and legislators and let them know your views on these nominees.
  8. Create and share an up-to-date “contact” list of legislators who are in positions to support your causes.  Demonstrate your solidarity with them. Encourage them in their struggle.
  9.  Start a multi-organization “call-chain”  with each member of each group contacting a chain of five others alerting each of pending legislation that must be blocked and defeated.
  10. Jointly sponsor and host local “teach-ins” to inform residents of the issues and their importance to their lives and how to get involved by taking action.
  11. Jointly host guest speakers, film showings, concerts, pot-lucks and other events to draw attention to key issues which are bound to impact some, and therefore, all of us.
  12. Live out what solidarity means by uniting in spirit and action, with your children watching and joining in when possible, advocating with and for each other’s causes…making these your causes too.

One more suggestion,  host a book reading or a book club, using Angela Davis’, “Freedom is a Constant Struggle.”

You will find, throughout the speeches and writings which make up this book, the theme of the importance and impact of solidarity among unknown, but dedicated, women and men, who collectively won great victories in struggles past and present.

There IS profound freedom IN the struggle!

Let’s find that freedom together…in solidarity!

Yours,

The unlikely student

“When one of us suffers at the hands of the few, all the people do!” from the song, “We The People Do!” by Dale Alan.  Album: “Where Does The Justice Go?”