Building Democracy for Our Future
You do hard things everyday and it's worth it.
If you were ever in my apartment in homes in Boston, DC, or Indiana you’ve seen this paper hanging on my door. I wrote this when my sight was much better and then taped it on my door, so I could touch it each day when I left.
It serves as a reminder that doing hard things is the only way to get where I want to be. I’ve felt more hope in recent weeks than I have in years. Like tens of thousands of others, I have been working to protect the vote and get more people to the polls and want to share my experience. I was energized titnessing the work and connection of volunteers waking up at 5am to answer voter hotline calls and working with college students to set-up campus get out the vote campaigns. In the weeks before the election, I partnered with Tylie Ad Solutions to make this Biden ad accessible to everyone:
On Election Day, I spoke to a 102 year-old woman who wanted to learn about her options to curbside vote and realized when I got off the phone that when she was born, women did not have the right to vote. In the final days of the campaign I worked with a magnificent group of disability lawyers to insure that the ADA and the Help America Vote Act were being used as tools to help those affected by COVID receive the accommodations they need to vote.
I went to “sleep” on Tuesday night not knowing the results of the election and leaned on meditations that teach the importance of not hitching hope to an outcome. I hitched my hope to all of the people that I met in the past months that I witnessed working to make sure that love, among other things, would win. In the days after the election, I read stories of Stacey Abrams personally registering over 800,000 and saw that one person can make a difference.
And then, today, history was made. We chose change and we elected the first woman, first black, and first South-Asian to be our Vice President. I felt some immediate relief and savored that moment. One thing that immediately popped into my head was the thought that when President Biden gives the State of the Union address he will open by saying, “Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President” and how sweet those words will sound to many.
There will be some people reading this that have a different sentiment about the results, but one thing we might all agree upon is how hard it is to be open to others when you feel they are causing harm. We have a choice in how we respond to feelings of harm and that should empower all of us. Meditation guru Tara Brach said in a post-election meditation to use your “righteous anger” to be transformative. It is easy to get locked into feelings of distrust, anxiety, and anger, and this is a factor fueling the grievance culture in our current political climate. It is much harder to witness others feelings, respond with empathy, and take action. But, we do hard things everyday and it is worth it.
I had the privilege of knowing Terre Haute, Indiana Holocaust survivor Eva Kor. Eva and others like John Lewis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela taught us that even though forgiveness is hard, freedom accompanies it. We must hold tight this knowledge and do our part in making it a reality. No man or woman can fix all of the problems we are facing. This is something we must do together.
Please take time to reflect and when you are ready, witness how others feel. Follow organizations like Millions of Conversations and make a #PledgetoListen. Create your plan of healing and action and ask others to join you. Because of the polarization in politics, many people feel uncomfortable participating in political organizing or sharing their opinion, but that is what we need to build our democracy. I encourage you to listen, share, and be involved. Sign up here to learn more about being a volunteer for voter protection or here if you are a lawyer. There will be many opportunities in upcoming special elections to be civically engaged and help shape our future.
This is what we have been listening to in recent days #JoyToThePolls and will keep listening. Stay tuned for upcoming events and stay well.