Why Persist?

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting with one hundred or more Maine residents in a Town Hall meeting organized by Indivisible MDI, a group with whom I’ve worked closely  these last 3 months.  

Despite multiple invitations and great effort from IMDI, in the final days leading up to the event, we were informed Senator Susan Collins, our guest of honor, would not be joining us.

The meeting was well attended event, organized and quite civil.  Jill Goldthwait was there to facilitate, keeping everyone on topic and keeping attendees within the structure planned for the evening.  

Jeff Dobbs came to film the event, capturing the many questions and comments directed to Senator Collins. The Tuesday following, we delivered to her office a copy of what she was unwilling to see and hear in person from her Maine residents (along with everyone’s hand written questions).  

We hope she will make the time to watch, to listen, to feel the deep worry and concern shared by one of many pockets of constituents across the state.

As one of the original organizers of IMDI, I want to offer my deep heartfelt gratitude to our ever-inspiring steering committee members and all of the volunteers doing the great amount of work it has taken to organize.  

With news tracking, event planning and execution, letter writing, placing ads, managing correspondence with hundreds of members and other clerical work, not to mention the volunteer coordinating necessary to get all of this done, it’s been nothing short of awe-inspiring to see so many passionate individuals come together, set aside time from work and family, set aside minor differences and personal discomforts to unite.

To see so many communities come together to resist what is now a daily onslaught of atrocities from our government and their supporters has brought hope at a time it is needed most.  For most of us, it’s become unthinkable to not respond.

In 3 short months, hundreds on MDI, thousands across the state of Maine and millions across the country have come together because we recognize the current administration for what it is; an unprecedented threat to all human lives.  

I'm incredibly proud of what we’ve all accomplished so far.  

Many of us have stepped out of our comfort zone to unite to build a foundation, a solid foundation that is essential to sustain all of the work that lies ahead, from staying informed and engaged to writing/visiting our Members of Congress, attending public events and more from here on out, because like it or not, politics are part of all of our lives.

The town hall held for our absent guest, Senator Collins, was just one activity, one piece of a growing network of actions, building a larger nationwide movement.  

We need to keep our heads up and our eyes open, we need to be able to look ahead, to see the long game, see beyond what is happening right now.  

We need to be prepared to fight for justices we may not see come to fruition in our lifetimes because we understand today that it’s the right thing to do.

Abolition came to pass only after decades of individuals putting their lives on the line to fight for what they knew to be right, the Women’s Suffrage Movement began in 1848 and continued for the next 70 years; both of these fights continue to this day.  

We have witnessed the years of demoralizing struggle the LGBTQ community has endured fighting for equal human rights.  

It is clear to me that these rights are never going to be handed to us.  

If history has shown us anything, it’s that the changes that have brought equality have not begun from within the government, they have begun in communities, by people just like us taking a stand and refusing to accept what we know is wrong.

We have a responsibility, to ourselves, our neighbors and our children.

We have a responsibility to use our voices, use our education, use our knowledge, our ability to reason, our gifts of creative thought and expression and our deep desire to live a world of hope and opportunity...we have an obligation to be brave, to be bold and to speak out, loudly and persistently when we see injustice and cruelty happening among us.  

We have an obligation to use our privileges to be the voice for those who don’t yet have one.

Whether born into the political world or new to the game and learning along the way, we need to support one another’s efforts, encourage involvement and remind everyone that their voice counts too.  

Enough shaming individuals for not being as involved in the past.  

We are here now and we don’t plan to back down.

We are not a nuisance, we are not being disrespectful, we are not being ungrateful or irresponsible or discourteous.  

We are exercising our right to speak up, our right to ask questions, our right to request that our Members of Congress talk to us and to explain themselves.

We are doing so peacefully and tactfully.  

We are coming forward with informed questions and concerns and we will not apologize for insisting we be heard.

That is what the town hall meeting was, a peaceable gathering in our community, all of us, together, boldly asking important questions, explaining why we will continue to resist all that we see happening that will hurt not only the people standing beside us today but also the billions who will join us here on the planet for generations to come.

In her book Power Politics, Arundhati Roy, an author from India writes, “...in the midst of putative peace, you could, like me, be unfortunate enough to stumble on a silent war.  

The trouble is that once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.  

And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out.  

There’s no innocence.  

Either way, you’re accountable.”

This is the only thing that allows me to sleep at night these days; knowing I’m doing what I can right now, working with my community of transformational activists, choosing to be accountable with action rather than silence.  

And so for these reasons, and many more, I will persist.

 

 

 

Kate Sebelin