I fear not for myself:
- I am straight, white, and cisgender, privileged with a high level of education and a stable job with full healthcare benefits.
- I can love whom I choose; live my life freely according to my religious views; and walk in public without being targeted as an “Other”.
- I can afford doctor’s visits, medical tests, surgical procedures, prescription medications, and birth control.
- I have been fortunate enough to avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted.
- I have not been demeaned in the workplace or in public because of my gender.
- I can use a public bathroom without fighting for the right to do so.
I fear for those who are not like me:
- Those who are condemned for who they love.
- Those who are viewed as “Other” due to their skin color, religion, language, or gender.
- Those who are victimized, injured, or killed because they are different.
- Those who work so hard at low-paying jobs but cannot afford to feed their families or treat their health problems, who need the social safety net to survive and who are labelled as “lazy,” “leeches,” or “Welfare queens” for it.
- Those who need to see a doctor, have a medical test or surgical procedure, or use a medication and cannot afford any of it
- Those who are called “sluts” for using birth control.
- Those who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped, who are not believed and do not seek help out of fear of reprisal.
- Those whose histories of abuse, job loss, or addiction have driven them to a desperate life on the streets, whose pleas for help are answered with arrests, beatings, or death.
I fear for children:
- Children who are deprived of food, shelter, or clothing because their parents cannot afford to support them, no matter how many hours they work.
- Children who are deprived of the love and attention of their parents because those parents have to work two or more jobs just to survive.
- Children who have been told their parents are bad people because they are not straight, white, or cisgender.
- Children whose existence is one of abuse and suffering because the same society that fights (often violently) for the rights of the unborn blocks efforts to support them once they are born.
- Children who will never escape the trap of poverty because funding that could be used to improve their schools is instead used to build weapons for a bloated military or to try to take away rights from others.
- Children who need medical care or dental care to set them up for a healthy life, but cannot get it because their parents can’t afford it.
- Children who have been bullied because they are different from their peers.
I fear for our world:
- A world in which scientific consensus is too frequently ignored in favor of emotionally-charged talking points.
- A world whose well-being is strongly influenced by the choices our country makes, whose populations may feel threatened by this most recent choice.
- A world in which our country has to exist alongside everyone else, and yet our future leadership promotes a nationalist, “us versus them” stance.
- A world with dwindling animal populations, increasing pollution, and worsening climate change that have already impacted the physical and economic wellbeing of people in this country and across the globe, while our future leadership believes that these things either do not exist or do not matter.
- A world with people who look to us for hope for a better future, inspired by the “American Dream” and the call to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” who have now been told that this dream is only for those who conform to specific racial, religious, economic, and gender statuses, and the tired and poor may never breathe free here.
And I fear for those like me:
- Those who conform to the “appropriate” race, religion, and gender identity, but want to stand in solidarity with their fellow humans who do not.
- Those who struggle to stand up for their beliefs within a community in which their beliefs are the minority.
- Those who want to make the world a better place for every person, not just people who look, worship, and love the same way they do.
A final thought: A society is only as strong as its most vulnerable member. If we do not help those more vulnerable than us, we weaken society for all. Jesus said that “whatever you [do] for one of the least of these, you [do] for me.”
We must continue to fight for the “least” of us:
- That their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (many of these rights so recently gained) are not lost.
- That they really have equal opportunity for success and happiness: social support, education, and healthcare.
- That they are not forced to live in misery due to laws passed by the least vulnerable and most privileged members of society.
I fear. I hope. I fight.