Monday, February 12, 2018

The New Me :-)

I was complacent, I'll admit it. Sure, I sent checks to causes I believed in and expressed my outrage on Facebook with angry emojis, but I was a 'Slacktivist' and I knew it. It didn't bother me much and I didn't have any sleepless nights. I figured the country could run itself and I didn't have any particular expertise to offer anyway. Oh, I had twinges of guilt occasionally and an annoying case of noblesse oblige, but I shook it off. Even when a cause got under my skin, I did nothing. I mean, what could I do? I wasn't the kind of person to attend a protest or slap a bumper sticker on my car. I never made waves because, honestly, I was kind of a chicken. What if someone confronted me about my bumper sticker? Did I really want to argue with strangers? What if I got arrested? My comfort zone had strict borders and after fifty-five years of living there, I wasn't moving an inch. 

My, how times have changed! I can even pinpoint the date--November 8, 2016, my first sleepless night. As a Jewish woman who lost relatives in the Holocaust, a woman married to an immigrant, a woman with brown children, a disabled nephew, and a gay nephew, I was terrified about the election results. I even broke up with a friend who had chosen to be on the wrong side of history. When I angrily told her that Nazis would soon be marching in the street, she scoffed. Although I was exaggerating to make my point, my prediction came true, to my horror. This constant barrage of attacks on the democracy I love (Yes, I love it!), as well as everything I cherish, and the people I care deeply about (including all the ones I've never met), have woken me the hell up.   

The metamorphosis of me is ongoing and my outrage fuels my activism. Attending the Women's March in Miami (I hate crowds, taking buses filled with strangers, sitting through speeches) changed my life. I found my heart filled with love for these total strangers and inspired by the words of the marginalized and persecuted. I was as fiercely protective of them as if they were my own children. When one of the speakers that day proclaimed if you come for one of us, you come for all of us, I cried. And that became my mantra.

Now I drive a car covered with bumper stickers; I wear a bright red Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America t-shirt and engage in conversations with strangers every chance I get. We talk about what’s happening in our country, what it means to us, what we can do about it. I always walk away inspired and hopeful. I am gathering petitions to restore the vote to 1.7 million disenfranchised Floridians and I know I will never miss another opportunity to vote again even if I'm 100 years old and on oxygen. I write postcards to people in other states encouraging them to vote, I attend meetings (LOTS of meetings), I send donations to candidates, I stay informed on the issues and pending legislation, I call my legislators constantly, I register people to vote, and I write op-eds like my life depends on it. Which it does. I not only attend protests, I also organize them.

When I look in the mirror, I ask in amazement Who am I? My reflection smiles back and says You are the person you were always meant to be.

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