It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. ~Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)
Have you ever seen a redwood tree?
They’re majestic and towering – scraping the sky while standing shoulder to shoulder with fellow redwoods in what feels like impossibly close quarters.
In fact, they can get so tall that their circulatory system can’t pump water to the whole tree, so their upper needles have adapted to drink fog right out of the sky.
You’d think that anything that can grow that tall would have roots penetrating deep into the earth, wouldn’t you? Something so tall, so heavy, so vulnerable to the wind and the weather must counterbalance its height with roots at long as it is tall, right?
And that’s where the secret of their stability lies.
Each tree’s roots interconnect with the roots of neighboring redwoods; those trees hold hands with their neighbors, and so on and so on, such that each tree is connected, one with the other throughout the forest.
In our Darwinist dogwood-eat-dogwood worldview, we look at a forest and assume the trees are trying to one-up each other; each is vying for light and air and water, after all – which are valuable resources that diminish with each new member. It stands to reason that the trees would block each other, ensuring they get the most and the best of what nature has to offer.
But rather than competing, they’re connecting.
No one tree ever truly stands alone.
So when the forest floor floods, the mat of roots they have created secures both the strongest and the weakest and keeps all of them solid. And when the gusts of wind come that would otherwise rip a tree from its bed, its neighbors steady its base and keep it grounded.
Standing alone they are powerful, majestic, strong. But together? Well. Together they’re invincible.
One might even say they’re indivisible.
So much the same for us, friends. There will be days when the winds are so fierce and so violent that any one of us would be toppled. There will be days when the flood is so deep and the water so murky that any one of us would be drowned. And there will be days when we think we just can’t keep standing.
It’s on those days when our greatest strength, our unity, will carry us on.
Let’s hold hands.
*Note, this pep talk was originally published in April 2017; I don’t often to “re-runs,” but its message of unity and cohesion really resonated with me this week, and I hope it did with you, too!!
Actions for the Week of June 11, 2019
Tuesday: Don’t Ban Equality
By now you’ve heard about the struggles that Missourians have had with the state banning abortion and making abortion access all but impossible for pregnant people in Missouri.
But recently, creative people have been finding ways to show that they value reproductive freedom. After Georgia’s ban was passed, for example, movie production companies started backtracking on projects, saying their actors and staff didn’t want to work there.
Past behavior has shown that corporate pressure can really impact legislators. After the discriminatory trans bathroom bill passed in North Carolina, businesses pulled plans to bring thousands of jobs to the state and major sporting events walked away from North Carolina. Wouldn’t you know… NC backtracked (a bit) and companies came rolling back.
In other words… when companies speak, legislators listen.
So I was super pleased to see the Don’t Ban Equality campaign. (www.dontbanequality.com). It’s a voluntary coalition of over 180 CEOs of companies that believe that reproductive freedom is important – because it’s the right thing to do and it’s also good for business.
From their website:
Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers. Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business. It impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
So what can you do? Ask companies to join! Send an e-mail to your employer if you’re working for a company right now. (Draft e-mail below.) Ask your grocer, Tweet your jeans label, talk to your coffee shop owner, sign up yourself if you have a company – whatever! The more the merrier.
Check here to see if companies that touch your life are already part of the campaign. www.don’tbanequality.com
And if they’re not, here’s a sample tweet: Hey @____, reproductive freedom is really important to me. I’m disappointed that you’re not on the #dontbanequality list. People’s economic security, access to opportunities and overall health is on the line. The majority of Americans (and customers) understand this.
Go to https://dontbanequality.com/join/ for a sample letter to send to your employer.
Wednesday: Don’t Let Them Redefine Poverty
The Trump administration is trying to combat poverty by redefining it. I’m serious.
A seemingly technical change to the “OPM” (official poverty measure) would change the definition from using the Consumer Price Index for Urban areas to a “chained” CPI that rises slower than the CPI-U. TalkPoverty explains the difference well:
The chained CPI differs from the CPI-U in that it allows for substitution across similar kinds of items. For example, the chained CPI takes into account the idea that if the price of chicken is high, perhaps you switch to pork, whereas the CPI-U only accounts for substitutions within categories, such as picking a Granny Smith apple over a Red Delicious. By allowing for these additional substitutions, chained CPI shows a slower rate of inflation, but for many families who are already choosing between paying the rent and buying food, they are already living as frugally as possible.
If the new definition takes hold, the Official Poverty Measure – which is used by HHS to set a bunch of programs from free school lunches to housing assistance – will be impacted. And, of course, fewer families will be considered “poor” – which juices Trump’s numbers artificially.
Time to head over to the Federal Register and provide a formal comment opposing this change. I can’t give you a script here (they can batch comments and if they are the same or substantially similar can lump them together) but please note that the OPM is too low as it is and this change would make it harder for already-stretched families to make ends meet.
CLICK HERE for the link to the explanation of the regulation.
CLICK HERE for the link to the comments page.
Thursday: Tell Congress: Pass the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA)
If you have young children – school aged or not – you know how expensive and stressful child care is. Child care costs for pre- school children are astronomical; summer care for school-aged kids is under-discussed, anxiety-riddled and also incredibly costly. When both parents work outside the home, summers are back-to-back-to-back summer camps, full time nannies, or other programs that parents scramble to find (and that are often expensive).
There’s a plan for that!
The Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA) limits child care payments to 7 percent of a family’s income and gives parents options of year-round, high-quality child care. (Can you believe it??) The bill guarantees early child educators a living wage (!!) and would make 3 out of 4 kids eligible for assistance in paying for child care. It was introduced in both the House and Senate in February, and would be literally life changing to so many people.
33 Democratic Senators (and Independent Bernie Sanders) co-sponsored the bill in the Senate. Check here to see if your Senator is among them.
HR1364 is the House Bill, and 145 Democratic Congresspeople have co-sponsored. Check here to see if your Congresscritter is one of them. Note for Missouri people: Congressman Cleaver is a co-sponsor – but Lacy Clay is not. I brought that to their attention this morning, so do me a solid and call them this week to let them know you’re paying attention.
Let’s show some support for this, okay? Here’s a great article to share: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/reports/2019/06/11/470845/parents-cant-find-summer-child-care-work-suffers/
And get out your phones!
Script: Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent at ___. I’m calling to ask the Congress(wo)man/Senator to support the Child Care for Working Families Act. It gives early childhood educators a living wage and provides good quality child care options for people year-round. I know those are things the ______ believes in – but I don’t see his/her name on the co-sponsors list. That’s so disappointing! Why doesn’t the _____ believe in co-sponsoring this bill?
Friday: Do the Week Two Actions of the Voter Empowerment Project!
Hat tip back to Jen Hoffman and her amazing crew at Americans With Conscience Checklist for creating amazing, actionable and thoughtful actions focused on voting! Jen is asking people to click on the actions they’ve taken so she and her team can track their progress.
And GUESS WHAT!!??!! Because of people like you she’s had to DOUBLE her goals for actions for the month! *High Five*
But, you know what? I think we can blow that goal out of the water. Join me and let’s make it happen!
Head over to https://americansofconscience.com/empower-more-people-vote/ and scroll down to Week Two. Let’s do this!