As I Light A Single Candle

A friend asked me how I was doing in the wake of the January 6th violence on Capitol Hill. I reflected for a moment, and told him, “Stirred but not shaken.”

First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”

~ Will McAvoy, Atlantis Cable News

You’ve read about what inspired my journey into American citizenship. It’s not that I thought the United States was the greatest country in the world. I believed in its commitment to keep working to be better.

I still do.

I left Canada to come to the United States in 1988 because I wanted to make even a tiny impact in a much larger universe. If I have remained true to that goal, then  surely there has been no better time to speak up, to stand up, to take action, than the past four years. 

Over the past four years, I have seen a lot of darkness. Attitudes and actions, of individuals and crowds and parties and voters and politicians and media, in support of values and beliefs and policies I consider abhorrent. 

Much of that darkness was there before the 2016 elections; I just never noticed until I started looking at what was right in front of me.

Donald Trump, both before and since taking office, has actively practiced or invited, encouraged, and praised those engaging in or supporting, systemic racism, xenophobia, bullying, denigration, misogyny, and lawlessness, culminating in insurrection against democracy itself.

In the days after the 2016 elections, I was shocked by America’s choice of a President. I thought I was ready to speak up, to blog and voice my views.

As I grew more aware of the darkness and its daily impact on people around me, I felt increasingly uncertain of what I could possibly do to make a difference. Each day brought a deeper understanding of how fragile, how illusory, was my picture of America.

Day after day, I sank deeper into incredulity and frustration. I spent most mornings of the past four years waking up, reading or hearing the news, and asking myself, “WHAT?”

Sure, I had had to study civics for my citizenship test… but there has rarely been a morning since 2016 when I didn’t wake up, hear the news, and ask my U.S.-born husband, “Explain something to me…”

The list of things I don’t understand has gotten longer rather than shorter.

The list of problems America needs to solve — as a nation, as a society, and among ourselves as individuals who have to live and work together — has definitely gotten longer.

The list of things where I feel like I can do anything useful to contribute to making this a better place overwhelms me daily. 

Racial justice is high on this list, so as this blog post comes to an end, I’ll tell you where I got to on that last year.

Reading, studying, watching, zooming, posting, and apologizing, most of what I accomplished was to get a deeper understanding of how much I didn’t know, and make mistakes I hope not to make again.

I can hardly expect to roll back over 400 years of racial injustice (alone or with help)

Any day that I can wake up and CHOOSE what impact racial injustice will have on my day, and someone else does not have that choice, is a day that I have an obligation to be taking action to extend that privilege to all. 

So I get up in the morning and light another candle: Pick One Thing.

I hope you do, too. 

Do. One. Thing.

One day more.

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