The Five Minute Activist

If we learned nothing else over the last four or five years, it’s that we still have a lot of work to do to make the world a better place. However, if everyone does their part in making their voices heard, we’ll get the job done a lot faster.

The good news is that you can get it done in five-minute chunks. That’s less time than it takes to drink a tall latte. Try these:

  1. Call or email your elected reps. At the federal level, the Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Just follow the prompts to be connected to your senator’s or rep’s office. To email, visit https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or https://www.house.gov/representatives and find their cyber-addresses there. For the state officials, go to https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/.
  2. If you choose to stop buying products or shopping at certain stores due to their support of things detrimental to the common good, don’t stop there. Shoot them an email and let them know why you are choosing to do so. Recently, we dumped our warehouse club due to their support of a certain pillow manufacturer. They needed to know why we were cutting ties with them, and when they decide to cut ties with that vendor, we’ll talk.
  3. Going back to 1…if you call an elected representative’s office and they give you the runaround or treat you rudely, let others know of your experience. There’s always Twitter. One of your local friendly news people might want to know about the incident. I am blessed and lucky to have Lauren Underwood for my rep right now. Before her, however…there was Randy Hultgren, ignorer of emails and purveyor of rude staffers. Like one named Brian who hung up on me. I wasn’t the only one. I heard other stories of the office door being locked and knocks going unanswered while staffers peeked through gaps in the blinds. I regret not sharing my experience with media contacts. Make sure you document time and names.
  4. Find alternatives for entertainment: used book stores, streaming services, good ol’ PBS, independent musicians, so on. So much of what’s portrayed on network TV in the US is poor quality or over the top violent.
  5. Make choices to support the environment. Buy whatever organic products you can afford (I know, pricy, but even a single tomato can help). Eat a few meatless meals a week, or if you can’t do veg food, do some sustainably raised fish or poultry.
  6. Be mindful of small things like water and energy consumption.
  7. Smile. You’re taking action, even in small ways. Be proud. You’re a drop of water in a river, a wave, and you’re doing your part to wash everything clean.

Awakening in the Nuclear Era

 

Image from Today

 

Yesterday morning, I went to yoga. Afterwards, I stopped at Wal-Mart to grab a couple of pairs of new jeans, then went home and had a bowl of clam chowder for lunch. Afterwards, Oakley and I went shopping for his food for the week or so, then we took a ride on the back roads winding through the currently bare farmland under the crystal blue sky. We tried to walk, but there was just enough wind to make the elements uncomfortable. On the way home, Oakley and I made a stop at a drive through for coffee (me) and an ice water (for him).

A gloriously ordinary Saturday.

As we drove around, I bounced back and forth between WCPT (progressive talk) running the highlights of the past week and a couple of music stations. Once home, we tuned into “America’s Test Kitchen” as we usually do on Saturday. I didn’t hear about this false alarm until fairly late in the day.

My stomach lurched in a way it hadn’t since I was in high school and college. I came of age during the Reagan years with the whisper of the siren lurking in the back ground, wondering daily if today would be the day that the final war started. The better part of those years were spent wondering if I was going to live long enough to graduate and why bother with school work if in the end we were going to to be vaporized into oblivion.

At the time, an insidious group called Young Life, one aimed at “saving” teenagers (it’s Campus Crusade for Christ Junior) began infiltrating my high school with messages about the end of days and the Rapture and Aramgeddon.

Between their interpretations of a book I had little use for and living with an alcoholic WWII veteran parent long steeped in USA right or wrong, my anxiety ratcheted up to a level where I was frozen in real time. I stopped doing anything of real substance, mostly spent as much time in my room as I could dreaming of better days, if possible.

Somehow I still pulled off a high enough GPA to get accepted into college and enough financial aid to do so.

Maybe I was supposed to live.

I started planning; I started dreaming of a future for myself. Granted it was the one that young women in the 1980s were supposed to have, but it was a dream, anyway. I wanted a stable home, a family, and all the rest of the things that I was brainwashed into thinking would make me happy.

Things between the US and the then USSR sort of relaxed until my junior year in college.  Events included a passenger airliner shot down for crossing into USSR air space. That was followed by a lot of saber rattling between Washington and Moscow.

Maybe not.

I shut down again. Would I not live to get out of college? What was the point?

In desperation I ended up engaged to an Air Force NCO who ended up being a dumpster fire of a partner.* He didn’t help at all by going into details on what would happen if we did get nuked ; he subscribe to end of the world cult thinking; he played head and heart games on a daily basis including the ever popular “if you loved me you would______” (insert soul destroying action here) while I searched for jobs near the bases he was likely to be transferred to for his last posting.

Suddenly, the tensions relaxed again between Ron and Yuri. Sergeant Dumpster Fire dumped me after demanding that I marry him within 48 hours  or our love was going to die (thanks to the Mystery that it did). Eventually the job, the home, et al  fell into place of their own accord.

For a long time, the threat of nuclear war was a non-issue, but now with the Dotard in Chief playing “mine is bigger than yours” with the not-the-most-stable-meal-on-the-shelf Dear Leader coupled with a vice president who subscribes to the zombie death cult interpretation of Christianity and would love to have himself and his fellows raptured away before the bombs drop, it’s been thrust to the forefront.

Again.

My prayer is that the “football,” the briefcase with the codes, gets kept very far away from the Oval Office until we can get someone more stable and wise in there. My hope is that Congress gets overturned this fall–if we live that long.

In the meantime in addition to letting Senators Duckworth and Durbin know my thoughts while working to get Rep. Hultgren out of office, I will get involved with peace groups as best I can from here in the hinterlands.

As all this shakes out, I will do yoga, enjoy my new jeans, and walk Oakley.

 

*To my family and friends who read this: I lack the words to convey the regret that I feel for the pain and grief I caused you by letting myself get manipulated into this relationship. “I’m sorry” doesn’t begin to cover the regret and remorse. I don’t know if I can ever really forgive myself, either, for the part of my life wasted on this person or for the damage done to other relationships.

Food Insecurity 101

From Quoteaddicts.com.

 

 

(note: If I could go in the quote and put brackets around “childhood,” I would…because no one should go hungry.  Period. End of quotation.)

Let’s start with a definition of food insecurity here.  According to the USDA, 11% of US households along with as many as 20% of children struggle to meet the basic need of nutritious food. 8% of senior citizen households struggle to keep themselves fed as well.

It’s not just people on the ends of the life spectrum. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that 1.7 million US veterans made use of SNAP and local food pantries. Thanks to disability and a lack of truly decent jobs on their return, they end up in that hellish place where they have to decide between food, medicine, and bills. (The VA doesn’t do as much as you might think. One of my close friends is in a running battle with them on behalf of her husband, but that’s a long story for another entry.)

However, you can help. Yes, you, Gentle Reader, and I will be beside you. Beyond tossing stats and facts around–important for educating yourself and others–and beyond making contributions–vitally important for providing resources–the most important step you can take is reminding your congress rep about these issues in a phone call or email. If you have the misfortune to live in a district (like WI-01 or IL-14) with a rep who thinks the new tax bill that favors the extremely rich is just fine and dandy or is apathetic to the needs of the constituents, then work on getting them out of office.

No one should make a sacrifice for their country and have to choose between bills and food.

No one at the end of their life should have to, either.

And the parents of the people at the beginning of their lives shouldn’t have to, either.

No one, under no circumstances. Ever.

 

 

 

Really? Obama Signs Away the Environment to Monsanto

President Obama signed an appropriations bill earlier this week. You know, the one that included legislation to let Monsanto rape, pillage, and plunder the earth?

Some people are defending it by pointing out that it was attached to some truly useful things such as funding for the VAWA. Others are saying that the Democrats didn’t know the Monsanto bit was in there. I am not buying it. 

I’m p.o’d at so many levels: the blatant disregard for environmental safety; ignoring the will and desires of the people; and yes, idealist that I am, I do feel betrayed that representatives who I’d considered “good guys” in the past supported this and accepted campaign funds from the makers of poisons. 

I couldn’t write about this yesterday. Within five minutes of checking my news on FB, I received word of the death of a friend’s wife after an eight year battle with cancer. Then, not long afterwards, this came down the wire. I physically shook and couldn’t think straight the better part of the day.

The battle isn’t over yet. Do something. Plant your own non-GMO garden. Call and demand an executive order to override this part of the bill. Just do something.