It’s a simple pledge that every school child recites. In fact, several years ago, I posted one of my granddaughters reciting it as a preschooler because she was so darned cute. I laughed when she substituted “invisible” for “indivisible.”
What I didn’t know then, of course, was that the 2016 election would serve to divide us and make many of us invisible. Watching Meryl Streep’s speech on the Golden Globes last night, I was struck by her focus on one of many insults our President-Elect hurled, not at his opponent, but at a private citizen with a disability. Having grandchildren with special needs, this one hit close to home. Streep said,
“But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.”
There is a simple plan for remaining a nation “indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” We must not become what little kids often say when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. We must not be invisible.
I’m planning to virtually turn my back on the inauguration by watching anything but news on January 20. I may choose Discovery or Animal Planet or Comedy Central. Anything other than watching the inauguration. If you join me, the ratings for the inauguration will drop, but this will only work if we keep our televisions on but tuned to other channels. On January 21, I will attend the rally in downtown Chicago in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. Then, I will do what I enjoy doing most. I will write. I will write to Congress. I may even write to the President. I know I will write to you.
While I have tried to post fewer political pieces in my blogs recently, I will be true to my purpose of still advocating for causes that are important to me. The fact that I might lose some readers or “friends” will not deter me. I just ask that if you don’t like what I say, please ignore me or feel free to unfriend me, stop following me, or unsubscribe to my blog and newsletter. But no arguments via comments, please. I have no desire to get into unproductive virtual online debates in which there is a different set of facts for each side.
One of my favorite quotes is, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Evelyn Beatrice Hall, an English author, wrote this in 1906 in her book The Friends of Voltaire. She was advocating for the freedom of speech, a right we all have thanks to the first amendment to our Constitution. Despite what @realdonaldtrump tweets, we all still have this right, and that includes him and Meryl Streep.
While I will not be invisible, I am still hoping that, as a country, we will be indivisible and come to see that our differences are to be appreciated. We have the right to be who we are, think what we think, vote for whomever we believe is the best candidate, and be respected regardless of our politics. We have the right to be valued as unique but integral members of the American fabric, regardless of our race, ethnicity, religion, ability, gender, and sexual orientation.
In America, we all have the right to be visible and to be heard. Remember the pledge you made as a child, putting you hand over your heart, to be part of an indivisible country, with liberty and justice for all.