What hurts you?
How is your health? That of your loved ones? Do you have access to health care? Can you get the pharmaceuticals you need at a price you can afford? Are you in physical pain?
Do you know people suffering from addiction? What recovery resources do they have? Is their addiction prescription-drug related?
How is your work life? Are you underemployed or over-worked? How are the conditions of your work? What about security? When was the last time you had a vacation?
How are your children/grandchildren? Do you have access to childcare? Do you fear for their futures in the workplace? Can you afford college for them?
Do you or your elders need dignified elder care? Are they getting it? Do you worry about security and happiness in old age?
Is your life impacted by drought, heat waves, wildfires, earthquakes, floods, storms? Did you get the help you needed?
Is it hard for you to get food you can afford, you like, food that is healthy and enjoyable?
Are you having trouble with mortgages, rental costs, the worth of a house?
How is your transportation?
Are you grieving the loss of loved ones, the trauma of war, gun violence, accidents, the dissolution of romantic relationships, estrangement from children/ parents/ friends? Is your life impacted by imprisonment?
Who is inflicting your pain? Not people who are Black, Native American, Latino, Asian American. Not immigrants, not Muslims not Jews. Not people who receive welfare pittance, while corporate welfare goes unchecked. Not trans people, not queer people, not disabled people.
We all need unity to reign in corporations who profit from our illness and addiction. We need unity to build a healthcare system for all of us, including the mental supports to deal with life’s challenges and sorrows. We need unity to secure our housing, schooling, and transportation. We need unity to gain the protection and mitigation from climate and other disasters; We need unity to obtain dignified wages, security, healthy working conditions, and the shorter work week we deserve. We need unity to secure our access quality food, clean air and water, green spaces and recreational venues that make life viable and enjoyable.
Do you feel unsafe? Well, you know what they say— there is safety in numbers—diverse, large, colorful, multi-talented numbers. To get what we need, we need to build a large tent of poor, working and middle-class people moving together toward a sustainable healthy future.
Here is the hard part. We don’t all hurt the same. Our histories are different. You need to know those histories, know how particular groups are targeted. That is part of building the unity we need to heal our hurts.
But this is for real. The big corporations and billionaires would like you to blame a race or a religious group for your pain. They laugh all the way to the bank when you do that. Their game is old and deadly. The hurt you are feeling and inflicting on others is new and deadly— to you and everyone else.
They tell me you are too insulated to hear reason. I don’t believe it. I’ve talked to you when you took my class to fill a requirement, or maybe to harass me. I’ve met you on the road when I rode my bicycle through your town. I know you are thoroughly human like me. I know it doesn’t take long before we are finding common ground. I know your experience has something to teach me. I know our differences have more to do with our sources of information that anything else. I know I am also vulnerable to the seduction of bigotry that seems to provide easy answers. I know that behind hate is a broken heart, and fear run amok.
I know fear.
I know that your hate and fear are deadly for people I love—which might include you. I know such hatred cannot be tolerated. I also know righteous indignation is of limited value in creating transformational change.
And we need transformational change.
For that process to begin we need a two-way conversation.
My line is open.