From Sideline to Frontline
This website is owned and operated by a 33 year old, college educated, city-living, white male that has watched his country descend into divisive camps dictated by fear and mistrust. The key word for me in that previous sentence, demographic information aside, is "watched". There are many experiences in life I have had first-hand but many I have inspected through the looking glass of New Yorker pieces, Frontline documentaries, books on behavioral economics and scholarly articles on entrepreneurship and the state of the American economy. I have taken in a great deal of information but there is some I do not relate to or have difficulty understanding because I have not lived it.
The day-to-day comfort I enjoy in my life has allowed me to be highly informed but at best moderately engaged in the molding of my community and world. Comfort and hubris have bred complacency. I have allowed myself to believe I understood the issues faced by rural America after reading a 3,000 word essay on its current situation and what likely comes next. I've allowed myself to be fed self-reinforcing literature that helped me believe I knew I was in the right, understood the future and how my values would prevail.
This worldview of mine experienced an incredible shock on November 8, 2016. Our divided nation elected a man whose language I can only view as demeaning, draconian and dangerous. I see a worldview governed by looking backward and blaming rather than optimistic and engaged. I disagree with that worldview. But I have clearly missed something because tens of millions of people cast a vote that showed otherwise. I might chalk it up to and leave it at racism and lack of education but when I step back and try to dig deeper, I am forced to reckon with a discontented and disenfranchised population. One that is scared and remembers better days. To think that the past can be resurrected, is pure fantasy. But when you feel your environment changing and see your wages diminishing, a false hope is better than none. The American dream promised, hard work = the makings of a better life. Globalization changed that promise. This makes me think of an interview with Tony Robbins from earlier this year I have cited often. "the origin of suffering, a state we feel when we are not at peace or feel wronged comes from three things, loss, less, and never.” Donald Trump's message resonated with people that have seen the loss of their America, are experiencing less prosperity now and fear it will never return.
None of the above is meant to ignore or downplay what is faced in our urban core or minority communities have experienced from the beginning of our country. But this election has forced me to step back and attempt to reason, "what if anything, must be targeted done to aid those who have experienced suffering are scared and now animated to action?
I do not know where my path will head but I do know where it will begin. It starts with me becoming more active in local and state-level politics, seeking out more experiences and taking action rather than resorting to #hashtags, ambivalence and resentment. As someone who identifies as pro-choice, there is one thing I have taken a hard look at post-election when it comes to the battle for a woman's right to have control over her own body. My office in midtown St. Louis is near the local Planned Parenthood. And every day, individuals that seek to end abortion, show up to protest and convince people from entering the building. Where have I been all this time in that battle?
For those of us seeking to protect a woman's right to choose and advance other progressive issues, are we choosing to show up and get involved in the issues we care about? Will we take time from our busy lives to speak up for, lobby and support those things we find important? Will remain complacent on the sideline or will we move to the frontline to stand for what is important to us? "No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself." Seth Godin
Go Forth Boldly