How is it that the last time I posted to this blog it was, ahem, seven months ago?! I phrase it with this alacrity that I just can't believe it, but that is a little misleading, because I know it has been a long time and the guilt is real (we're talking Catholic-Jewish-grandmother-level guilt). I feel bad because it isn't that I have forgotten or haven't wanted to or haven't had anything to say; it is just that I have been so truly busy that it had fallen to my "should do" list from my "must do." (Obligatory explanation: in the last few months, I recovered from a very fun but exhausting election, moved, got married, worked on some new professional projects, and traveled a lot so I promise I haven't been sitting at home, bingeing on Netflix and shielding sunlight from my perspective...I just haven't been blogging...)
That said, the beauty of being in education is that you feel like you get two new years each year--one that is the actual new year in January and the other that just feels like a new start when school begins again in the fall. We are approaching the latter (which always feels more "new" to me anyway) so it seems like a perfect time for me to acknowledge my shame and pledge to do a better job. There are simply too many important things going on in politics right now now to have an open discussion about them and while there are plenty of outlets where you can find conversations, I strive to provide a positive look that goes beyond partisanship or the typical biases and adds a different perspective to the mix. My goal for this upcoming school year with regards to this blog is to use it to share a different view and to reiterate discussions on my radio show (Positively Politics on 88.7 WICR, The Diamond on Saturdays at 11:30). I want to be more consistent (ha! anything beating a seven month hiatus would be more consistent! low but important bar here) and I want to be more deliberate in the content I provide. Lastly, I want to actively incorporate multimedia to become more engaging and more expressive so that the ideas discussed really speak to as many people in the most effective way possible. It may be the teacher within me but I know everyone prefers their own method of interpreting information and connecting concepts and being strictly verbal is, quite frankly, kind of boring for this kind of medium anyway.
Phew, now that I have explained that, let's get to the big issue being discussed this week. Friday afternoon, when I taped the show for Saturday, I heard grumblings of issues going on in Charlottesville, Virginia. One of my close friends in graduate school resides there now with her husband and she posted some first-hand pictures and a narrative of the protests occurring and the counter protests beginning to assemble. By Saturday morning, in between a 3rd grade football game and a family trip to the Indiana State Fair, I checked my phone for the news to see virtual pandemonium erupted. Violence ensued. Protests ignited confrontation. Hate spread. All of this over the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Eventually the protests died down but not until after Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency and one young woman was left dead from an enraged motorist who mowed down several in a fit of rage. The flames are out, the smoke is sputtering. Where does that leave us now?
I have perused social media frequently since the weekend to see various posts from my friends (primarily those on the left but some of my more conservative friends have jumped in too), news updates on the now-arrested murderer, and rumors (some substantiated) about the participants who have since been outted and fired.
I believe in remembering history, the good and the bad, for it is not without the latter that we could ever truly appreciate nor even recognize the former. I also strongly support our 1st Amendment right to say what it is we believe. This is among the most precious of American freedoms and not one that any individual should disregard or take for granted. And I also think protesting is an important fundamental way to explain political dissatisfaction and instigate a larger discussion.
All of these things are very important to me and I hope they are values cherished by every American. I don't have to agree with what you have to say to still agree that you have the right to say it. What I do (and we as a society do) have a right to do though? Recognize and dispel hate, bigotry, and discrimination. Acknowledge the need for peaceful demonstration without violence. Consider all perspectives before declaring a "right" and a "wrong." I am the daughter of American Revolution soldiers who can trace my roots back to the 1600s in colonial Massachusetts. I am also the daughter of Eastern European immigrants who came to this country less than a century ago, not speaking the language or knowing the customs, but working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania and the factories of New York to better their standing for their own progeny. My lineage proves to me that these backgrounds are not paradoxical but reinforcing and that the difference is beautiful.
There is no room in our country or our future for hate. Conversations about recognizing and remember our history? Yes, indeed those are important. Protests acknowledging different views? Yes, that is everyone's 1st Amendment right. Hateful language/actions/ideas that only serve to separate/divide/weaken us? Nope, that is the line. Stop it there. I have no tolerance for such behavior and I call it out when I see it. I hope you do too.