I spend time each day to learn from others by reading their ideas linked to in tweets on Twitter. Before November 8th, this daily activity inspired me and my work; the twitter feed offered the opportunity to share, learn, grow, reciprocate, and remix to make the world a better place.
After November 8th, I took some time off. I found the world had shifted off the humane course of a world seeking peace– seeking liberty and justice for all. It careened of a cliff and away from but a call to:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
~Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson
I don’t know if you felt it, that tremble under your feet that knocks you off balance; a feeling of dread that the world beneath your feet is crumbling away. Before November 8th, our country opened up that joyous word: freedom — it acknowledged and upheld differences; it celebrated a world that includes everyone. Yes, places in the world were still horrific, and the world was trying to help that. Yes, sometimes the opportunities were not available as easily for some than others. Yet, we were as a country working on those. We were not perfect, but we were open; we had avenues to take to promote freedom and justice for all.
Then we elected oligarchs, white supremacists, anarchists, illiterates whose sole purpose is to disrupt and control.
I thought that the Republicans were American patriots — that they would see the evil in the actions and the power negating freedoms, but now they are complicit.
I am a fool; I thought our government of the people, by the people, and for the people through our elected representatives would govern for all the people.
I am a fool.
Today, I looked at the blogs of people I follow on Twitter. One post, My Un-Representative, by Alan Levine [@cogdog] really hit my heart- the ideas touched exactly how I’m feeling.
Look at the graphic at the top of the post — this is a Wikimedia Commons public domain image representing the House of Representatives, 2017.
There are, indeed, more Republicans [red] than Democrats and others [blue].
Yes, we elected them, but how did we elect them? In fact, the Republicans selected us, the voters by rigging the voting districts. It’s called gerrymandering, and this January, 2016 Washington Post article explains this concept and this fact [bold, mine]:
The GOP scored 33 more seats in the House this election even though Democrats earned a million more votes in House races. Professor Jeremy Mayer says gerrymandering distorts democracy. (The Fold/The Washington Post)
I knew gerrymandering existed, but did not think it was that bad, and in fact, I thought my state [Washington] was fair with a bi-partisan system. It turns out I’m wrong: Read the DailyKos article on why this doesn’t work either.
Some resources to correct the effects of gerrymandering:
The Fold/The Washington Post
Brennan Center for Justice
Still, despite knowing about gerrymandering, I’m still a fool. Because although there are more red than blue representatives and senators, I believed they represented ALL the people, not just their party.
Yes, I thought the people elected still had to be Americans and consider all Americans in their elected responsibility as my representative in the House or Senate.
Yes, I believe in our freedoms, our rights, and the freedom to live one’s life in one’s own way.
That means that our representatives need to consider all the people, to hold up those rights for all Americans. In the past, we have expected our rights to extend to anyone in our country. But that was then, now we have the inhumane, unAmerican travel ban.
Since we all live with others, freedom comes with responsibilities. One of those is to respect the freedoms and ideas of others, which I certainly expect my congresspersons to do.
Respect means listening to and accepting other ideas, tolerating that which is different, and acknowledging ways to allow those differing ideas a voice and a life in our complex and dynamic communities. I expect this of our elected officials in Congress.
In my classroom, it means we have a talking stick, a Native American way to hand off a time to share and give one’s voice [and everyone has a voice to solve an issue].
Another responsibility key to our democracy is compromise. We find common ground so that our country of diverse ideas and cultures can live together in peace and respect. I expect that elected officials work together to compromise so all people are represented, not just the elected person’s party.
And in my classroom, sometimes we compromise on how we spend our time– some students want more time with the teacher and others want to work in their own small groups. I shorten up my part, and then students set their goals and work in the areas and ways that best help them succeed in their projects.
In order to compromise, listening and understanding respectfully is a must and so is cooperation. I expect that when a law is created, that bi-partisan cooperation takes precedence over party political manipulation.
In my classroom, students and I cooperate– giving each other ideas and feedback on our writing or videos or blogposts. We help each other be successful.
Sometimes issues are so complicated, that we need to collaborate to get things done — the people we elect need to research and present different ideas to each other in order to analyze what would work best to solve the issue in cooperation and compromise.
In the classroom, sometimes students have different jobs [researcher, interviewer, composer] and sometimes they have parts of topics for which they are responsible for so when their team meets, everyone has part of the information needed to complete a project. That’s collaboration, which then requires cooperation and compromise respectfully to consider and solve the big picture issue.
I know these concepts: freedom, respect, compromise, cooperation, and collaboration work together — and I know that they work because that’s how things happen in the real world.
So I’m expecting the elected officials, Democrat, Republican, Independents, work together for all Americans, and not just for their party.
How about you?
Look for and support those officials who seek each other out and begin the listening process to uphold the Constitution and our American values which are now under siege by the current and very lost administration. Help them find the way back to the great America, the one that fought for and created laws — not for order — but for liberty and justice for all.
The answer is blowing’ in the wind — and we must listen in freedom for all to find the answers together.
Maybe just you can,
Maybe you say,
Maybe you shut me up,
Maybe you pray your way.
Maybe you slam the door
Maybe you build a border
Maybe you block me out
Maybe you hear my shouts.
Maybe I stand louder
Maybe you can’t ignore
Maybe in the crying
Maybe you’ll feel your heart.
Maybe you’ll open up,
Maybe you’ll listen,
Maybe you’ll see the person
Maybe you’ll step up.
Maybe you’ll open a window,
Maybe you’ll open a door,
Maybe you’ll take my hand,
Maybe together we stand.
Part of Slice of Life 2017 by The Two Writing Teachers
Part of DoodleaDay by Royan Lee— today: icons: metaphors for concepts
Doodling Song: Peter, Paul, and Mary Blowin’ in the Wind
House of Representatives 2017 Image: “United States House of Representatives 2017” is a Wikimedia Commons image place in the public domain.