All of my essays have been published by the Martha's Vineyard Times. I began writing political essays after the horrifying election result,s November 9th, 2016. My first protest at 19 was for one of the May Day demonstrations in Washington D.C. My second as an adult, was a protest against the Electoral College in the Boston Commons at our State House — December 19th 2016. This demonstration re-energized my political passions, AND it just so happened, on that day I turned 65!
Below I have posted my latest two essays. One I wrote for The March For Our Lives "Young People Speaking Their Minds", the other "Flight To A Fight", I wrote when I returned home from the Doug Jones campaign in Alabama, December, 2017.
These are the links to my other essays and a story the MV Times wrote about my Alabama trip.
Electoral College Protest mvtimes.com/2017/01/11/marches-and-milestones/
Trip to Indivisible Conference mvtimes.com/2017/11/15/get-active-local-women-find-cure-political-blues
MV Times Story mvtimes.com/2017/12/15/vineyard-woman-sweet-home-alabama/
, Young People Speaking Their Mind
“It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?”
What IS that sound? My heart working in overdrive, beating to the rhythm of my newly acquired, political elevated blood pressure? Those were the thoughts (and fears) running thru my mind on that snowy morning last week.
“It starts when you’re afraid
step out of line, they come and take you away”
While an old sixties song played on the radio, I took a peek at the news (I’m trying to cut back) on my laptop, and saw the impassioned faces of our beautiful students across the country as they walked out of their schools. I realized it WAS my blood pressure; it was my 20 year old protest inspired youthful blood pressure. But more than that, it was HOPE beating its courageous wings. And as fleeting as it can be sometimes, hope like love, has no age limit, no expiration date.
We are living in surreal times, which are affecting not only our personal lives and health, but our country’s political future. Our democracy is on the line, we have everything to lose, but at the same time, we have even more to gain if we’re willing to stand up and fight for it.
I’ve always believed “adversity creates opportunity”, which is a good thing for me, because like most people, I’ve had my share of adversity. To me though, this is not a “glass half full – half empty” promise or philosophy, this is a “God works in mysterious ways” philosophy. And whether or not you have one ounce of religion or spirituality in you, know this: there is something very astonishing going on, just look around.
“There’s something happening here
what it is ain’t exactly clear”
The recollections I have from my hippie protest days are truly some of the memories gems I am most thankful for. Those days bonded me for life with my fellow activists, and I am sure there are millions of us still alive and still kicking. And most likely, like me, they are gleefully reliving those amazing times thru this March For Our Lives Movement, some with their grandchildren, no doubt.
For me, those times were lived out on the streets of Washington D.C in May 1971. As we rag-tag hippies, happily combed the streets those three-four days, we greeted each other with “hey brother” or “hey sister”. I had never in my young life felt such a bond and connection to people, to total strangers actually. You see, we had a common cause that came, I believe, from our collective instincts for survival. We knew we could make a difference, we knew we had to protest, we knew if we persisted together, we could end the war, and we did. We knew all these things; we were a movement.
“A thousand people in the streets, singing songs and carrying signs
mostly say, hooray for our side”
Our youth today, our teenagers, are also experiencing their collective survival instincts, and like we did, they are sharing it with the world. So all you bad guys out there, you had better be worried because you have hundreds of thousands of reasons to be.
“There’s a man with a gun over there
telling me I’ve got to beware”
I have always felt somewhat sad for the generations who never got to experience the kind of camaraderie that my peers and I did. Like most people, I am proud and inspired by this generations’ passion and their determination to be heard. They are realizing that together they can change not only their future, but ours. And as much as I regret the circumstances, the horrific tragedies that brought these children together, I KNOW they will be forever shaped by these days in a very positive way, I certainly was.
“Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind”
What has happened incrementally to our society is heartbreaking. Individually, we have become to feel irrelevant and insignificant, which coincidentally ties to the thinking of: one’s vote doesn’t count. Our small businesses where we once met, connected and said hello, are disappearing. The hardware stores, the shopping malls, and now the grocery stores (thank God for Cronigs somedays), have been replaced by lonely times at the computer, working and buying things. Then we are made to feel even smaller when attempting to go up against “Goliath”: the big monster size companies with their never ending, glitch ridden, technology.
These marches and protest are powerful for us as a society; they are reconnecting us once again to each other in the flesh. We have, without knowing it, been starved for this reconnect. We are finding we are not alone in all this chaos and turmoil, quite the contrary. And by being together and sharing common causes, we have discovered not only our secret weapon in the up coming November elections; we’ve discovered the best medicine for the onslaught of malicious mental abuse we have daily endured.
“There are battle lines being drawn
nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”
All the recent movements in my opinion began with the historic January 2017 Women’s March. Those marches, and the millions of people around the world, who participated, showed that when we unite, we are a force to be reckoned with. We are going to win not only the battles ahead of us; we are going to win this war, the war against our constitutional rights. I have absolutely no doubt about it. So, to all the students out there, remember this: Courage is contagious and persistence is absolutely, flat out crucial.
“We better stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?”
Quotes by Stephen Stills' “For What It’s Worth”
Flight To A Fight
I have a confession to make: I have a fear of flying; I have not flown in in over 23 years. So when the opportunity came my way to help the Doug Jones campaign in my home state of Alabama, I knew the time had come to get over it. You see, I have a bigger, more pressing fear looming over me, the distinct possibility of our country losing its democracy. It is something we have unintentionally and unconsciously taken for granted for a very, very long time. It is an ideology we have assumed had rock solid protection from our rock solid institutions: Wrong.
Another confession: The concept of “fight or flight” has been rumbling around in my soul for over a year. Do I stay in this country or do I go? I don’t know yet. Do I, selfishly look the other way and hope for the best? No. Do I think some heroic politician will ride up on their white horse and save us all from the destruction we are witnessing before our very eyes? No. Do I think, we citizens, and I mean all of us, can save our democracy, our country, and ourselves? YES.
I also believe this: Many of us feel our one vote doesn’t count, we are helpless, alone and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. We are not, and especially when we join together, we are powerful. Hell, I’m not so sure Doug Jones would have won had I not gone to Alabama and brought his campaign some good ole blue Massachusetts juju! LOL.
This is not a confession; this is a fact for me: I never realized how much my sense of well-being was tied to our president. The president was my surrogate father, our country, my surrogate mother. Sometimes they were good to me, sometimes they were bad to me, and at their worse, they were indifferent, UNTIL NOW. Now I feel abandoned, now I feel orphaned but at the same time, I see an amazing movement taking place across the country with millions and millions of my fellow “siblings”.
This movement is like an electrical current, gracefully snaking thru our country. It is focused, it is powerful, it is determined. Its goals: To preserve our most precious commodities; our DEMOCRACY; our right to VOTE, and our right to the TRUTH.
So, I sucked up my fear and rode that current via a plane to Alabama in a snow storm no less. I surprisingly had not one ounce of fear. I figured, if the plane went down, at least I had gone down swinging. But not only that, I had to get there, my Alabama needed me!
After arriving in Huntsville (my home town) I spent most of my waking hours working at Mr. Jones headquarters. I canvassed everyday (called door knock) and the afternoon of Election Day I “poll watched”, which is exactly what it sounds like: You go to the polling precinct and watch. You call the campaign headquarters every half hour with information about the turnout of your designated precinct; how many voters are there; how long are the lines; are people leaving because of the length of the lines. Volunteers then rush over to your precinct with water, candy bars and cookies, hopefully to keep the voters from leaving. This is all done anonymously of course. And, this is comforting: There are specially trained lawyers stationed at some of the precincts to make sure every eligible voter gets to vote.
I was assigned Precinct 2. I fancied it being it being in some smart, progressive part of town, full of the cool new breed of Alabamian I was sure existed. What the hell did I know, I hadn’t been there in years. Well, the God of my choosing did know, and had another plan for me.
Precinct 2, I soon found out, is in an extremely poor part of town with a very small voter registration (only 1586 voters, 60% black, 40% white, and is a known low voter turnout precinct. The highest total turnout in its history was 500 during Obama’s last presidential election. Once I got there and got the lay of the land, I thought maybe I had ticked somebody off back at the headquarters.
At first, all the ladies working there were a little skeptical of me. Who was this strange woman dressed all in black with no discernable southern accent? They loved my hair so that pretty much broke the ice. After a few hours, they were all sharing their Pringles with me while we watched “The Young And The Restless” on one of their laptops during a lull. I’d say “She’s still on?” They’d fill me in on the missing years (I was once a fan) and who was doing what now.
In this special election, my little Precinct 2 had a 450 voter turnout. The majority of the voters showing up were black, but surprisingly, there were quite a sprinkling of gay women. Obviously I was in Jones territory, yahoo! I was making bets with some of the people working there, that we’d get 500, but the number we did get, was a record for this kind of event.
The volunteers at the headquarters may have been mad at me (all in my silly head of course) but my God was not, because what I walked away with from my first poll watch was this: The glaring lack of “giving a damn” our elected officials have for their most vulnerable constituents is galling. I pretty much knew this, but to see it up close and personal was heartbreaking. The people I saw in this precinct that the heavens above plopped me down into, were hard working Americans. I could tell by their clothes, I could tell by the weary looks they wore on their faces, but they came, they came out and voted and THAT gave me hope, hope for all of us.
So, not only did I get the satisfaction of seeing “my guy” win, there was the added bonus of spending three days with my two high school best friends! I also got to meet the wonderful new men in their lives, who upon arrival gently warned me: “Lorraine, don’t get your expectations up”. They were just being kind and did not want me to be disappointed. So, it was VERY rewarding late election night, to give them both, big, fat, but good nature “I TOLD YOU SOs”! See what I knew, and what they didn’t know, was all the grassroots work that had been going on down there.
What a night, what a win it was for all of us, and I had a front row seat! And that is because; I put my fears aside; I got on that flight; I went to that fight, and I helped beat the bad guy. Right now, just for now, I cannot imagine anything feeling better than that!