Patriotism (noun): devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country
Here we are, just days before the Fourth of July.
Flags. Fireworks. Parades with smiling politicians and candy-throwers.
But there are cracks beneath that cheerful veneer.
You’ve seen the stories, haven’t you? The treatment of asylum-seekers at the border, and at the “detention facilities” they’re sent to. Women told to drink out of a toilet bowl, like dogs. Children as young as two – babies – alone. Flu outbreaks, lice infestations, one shower for 758 people and cells so packed the men in them can’t lay down to sleep.
Their crime? Running from certain death by gangs. Or from systematic abuse. Or from religious persecution.
It hurts my heart. I know it hurts yours, too.
But, my God, it’s so hard to keep eyes open.
There’s this sick combination of overwhelm and bystander effect going on. A crisis fatigue that is so hard to overcome, coupled with the unwavering thought that if it was really that bad, surely someone would do something about it.
Or, more accurately, the thought goes something like: if something this bad were really happening, someone with more power, education, experience and money would do something about it. That’s not me, so it just can’t be that bad.
Friends, there is just no escaping the fact that it is, indeed, that bad.
And – like it or not – you’re on the front lines because you have the compassion and insight to recognize that what’s happening around you is not normal.
But here we are, at the Fourth of July. A day set aside for celebrating America and what we stand for.
How do you celebrate a day like that, when you see what America has stooped to?
You fight like hell for what you know our country can be.
You pick up your phone and call your members of Congress. Again, for the umpteenth millionth time because even if you talk to a flippant Republican intern, that kid needs to hear from someone with more seasoning that this is not who we are – not under your watch.
You speak up at the picnic table when Uncle Joe spouts off about “migrants” and “illegals.” You shut that talk down – not because you’re ever going to convince him he’s wrong (you won’t) but because you need to model for your young cousins what being a good human – and a good American – looks like.
You look around for candidates in your community that you can support – that are actually looking to lead, not win an election. There’s a difference.
You use your biggest power – your humanity, and your big, strong, open heart – to fly in the face of American cruelty.
You prove with who you are what we, as a nation, can be.
And, most of all.
You don’t give up.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of July 2, 2019
Tuesday: America doesn’t stand for this.
As we’ve already discussed, the conditions at the border are terrible. They’re completely unacceptable and un-American. The behavior of Customs and Border Control agents both on and off the job are deplorable. See THIS and THIS and THIS.
We must call this out.
So today, call your MOCs and ask point blank what they are going to do – as leaders. Let them know that you expect them to use the power that they have to fight for the least among us, and that if they don’t you’ll hold them accountable.
Wednesday: Volunteer for Immigration Justice Campaign
The Immigration Justice Campaign fights for due process for detained immigrants.
From their website: The primary goal of the Justice Campaign is to increase access to legal counsel for thousands of immigrants held in detention centers. To achieve this, the Campaign is building a broad network of pro bono allies to serve the many thousands of detained individuals who would otherwise go unrepresented and training private lawyers with new tactics and strategies to enable them to vigorously defend immigrants facing removal.
If you are an attorney, law student, paralegal, mental health professional, health care provider or Spanish speaker, please review the volunteer opportunities at Immigration Justice Campaign. https://www.immigrationjustice.us/volunteeropportunities/volunteer-public There are opportunities across the country- and some are entirely remote.
Can’t volunteer? You can still support their worthwhile mission by chipping in a few bucks to help them fund their operations here.
Thursday: Stand Up For Our Values
On this Fourth of July, please take a few moments to think about what values you expect our country to uphold. What do you want the world to see? What do you want our nation to be known for?
After taking those few moments, go back to the advice we got from Sarah Kendzior two and a half years ago: write it all down. Write down your lines in the sand. Think about what would have to happen – if it’s not babies in cages – for you to step further outside your comfort zone.
And then think about what you can do over the next two years to make sure we at least get Donald Trump out of the white house. Write down five things you want to prioritize over the next two years – whether it’s voting rights or serving humanitarian needs.
Now get out your phone if you use an electronic calendar or your planner if you’re old school like me. Write down on the first of each month: Priority Check.
Remind yourself why you do what you do.
And then remind yourself that you’re not alone; on the second of each month write: Thank You, from Michele.
Friday: Wayfair Showed Us Just What We Need
Wayfair employees walked out last week to protest Wayfair’s decision to supply a Baptist nonprofit that was hired to detain kids with $200,000 worth of furniture.
That’s the kind of collective action that gets attention! Let’s use our collective consumer power to protest.
Sludge.com has compiled a list and map of vendors across the country that are doing business with the Customs and Border Protection. Check it out HERE. If you’re doing business with them – stop, and let them know why. Put pressure on them directly with your own dollars, and then let others in your city and state know that they are supporting CBP.
4 thoughts on “How to be a patriot in 2019”
I’m torn on the Wayfairer action. On the one hand, it’s profiting from a horrible governmental policy; on the other hand, these people NEED beds, and those beds have to come from somewhere. Do we boycott businesses that sell toothbrushes and soap, too?
Hi Carole! I understand where you’re coming from – if nobody will sell beds to the facilities, then that makes the problem worse. But the point is to show these companies that we’re paying attention – and that we are going to hold anyone who is complicit in the human rights violations that are happening to account for it. By nature of their status as a government contractor, they have more power – and we’re encouraging them to use that power in the right way.
Maybe we could start be encouraging people to reference “refugees” rather than “immigrants.” There can be a world of difference in terminology.
I absolutely agree! The words that we use make a HUGE difference, and the word “refugee” is more accurate in the circumstances most of these people find themselves in.