Always worth a try

In Kansas these days, there’s a lot of resignation.

Our tax system has been denounced from all corners as the worst in the nation.

Nonprofit advocates perceive swift retribution from the Administration when they criticize state policy actions.

Our Attorney General has requested more than $1 million in supplemental appropriations to finance the defense of the unconstitutional bills (opting out of federal gun laws, anyone?) passed by the legislature last session.

I have heard more than a few times in the past few months:

“What’s the use?”

And, you know, I get it.

We have really important work to do, helping kids get ready for kindergarten and seniors find housing and parents get back to work.

If advocacy increasingly feels like yelling into the wind, maybe it’s a waste of our (very) precious time.

Until I read Auschwitz: A New History this summer and figured out that we have a lot to learn about seemingly-hopeless situations and how they aren’t, after all, so hopeless.

The book included several examples (see, for example, p. 139) of when Nazis were vulnerable to public protest, which begs the question: if more people and more governments had protested deportations and decried cruel treatment of Jews, what would have happened?

What are we missing out on, because we have convinced ourselves that it’s foolish to even try?

The book also relates stories of those who protested their own role in the killing but were seldom punished, reminding us that we often exaggerate the negative consequences for ourselves and minimize the likelihood of our advocacy success.

Again, if those lessons are true even in one of the darkest periods in all of human history, surely it’s true today, when what we’re dealing with is a failed economic policy and zealously ideological policymakers.

Righting wrongs is always, always worth a try.

And even yelling into the wind is better than nothing.

If it’s true in the shadow of Auschwitz, it’s true everywhere.

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3 responses to “Always worth a try

  1. Perfect timing, Melinda. I’ve been hearing the same comments. Recently I attended a talk by Dr. Alex Smith who spoke about changing the narrative. He was referring to the lack of moderates in Kansas. However we can apply it on a broader scale. We can begin to change the narrative by mentioning the good work that is being done.

    For example, we can celebrate the US Supreme Court overturning DOMA. What an exciting point in history! The progress for LGBT rights is gaining momentum every day.

    Also I see an increase in engagement of folks at the grassroots level. I find that very encouraging.

    • Alex and I had that same conversation at dinner last week! We also honed in on the strong defensive work we did on anti-immigrant attacks in the legislature this year, as a story that needs to be told in Kansas, particularly at this time. So glad that you got a chance to talk with him, too!

  2. Yes, I enjoyed speaking with Alex. He had some great insights in KS politics. I think we can all work together to tell those stories of successes and hard work that is going on. Let me know and I’ll be happy to post on TBW or MainStream Facebook examples of such stories. We can’t be discouraged by the negativity of the opposition.

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