The courage to change

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

By CHRIS CASH

I’m a long-time mem­ber of a cer­tain 12-step group. Anonymity is big for some but it never has been for me. I am proud to be a part of a group who works a pro­gram day in and day out to be­come the best hu­man be­ings they can. We have a short but pow­er­ful say­ing (many call it a prayer) that has guided both my thoughts and ac­tions on a daily ba­sis for many years. You’ve likely heard the say­ing but here it is: “God grant me the seren­ity to ac­cept the things I can­not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wis­dom to know the dif­fer­ence.”

Those words were the first that popped into my head when I awoke from four hours of fit­ful sleep on elec­tion night and heard the words I knew were in­evitable, ”Pres­i­den­t­elect Trump.” Know­ing that seren­ity was too much to hope for, with­out some unlikely as­sur­ance from Trump that he would not govern as he cam­paigned, I turned to the sec­ond line. Courage has never been dif­fi­cult for me. I have stood up to bul­lies of all types and marched in many protests and launched two LGBT news­pa­pers. The hard part was know­ing what to try and change given the nu­mer­ous threats that a Trump pres­i­dency and Congress could her­ald. I don’t have to name them, we all know what they are and the list is longer than…well, it’s long.

Like mil­lions of oth­ers, it took a while for me to stop griev­ing and get prag­matic about what I could do. I was tired, tired from the bru­tal cam­paign and tired of see­ing posts by sup­posed friends who seemed to have no idea what a “fact” is and would not lis­ten to any­one other than those who echoed their own bi­ases. And most dis­turb­ing, why would 14 per­cent of the LGBT com­mu­nity, my com­mu­nity, want a dem­a­gogue as their pres­i­dent?

Hon­estly, I don’t know why. It’s easy, and sim­plis­tic, to point to racism and sex­ism and maybe that is true. LGBT folks, while more pro­gres­sive than most of the coun­try, are not all cut from the same cloth. But I have known that for a long time, so why was I so stunned by the 14 per­cent? Be­cause this was no or­di­nary cam­paign and no or­di­nary con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can. We’ve dealt with that be­fore, many times, and we have sur­vived and even thrived. What we have now, as the head of our coun­try, is a big fat un­known and dan­ger­ous by virtue of that fact. How do you fight what you can’t grab hold of?

I have al­ways in­ter­preted the phrase “the courage to change the things I can” as the only thing I have the power to change is me. I can­not change you or what you think or be­lieve no mat­ter how good my in­ten­tions or how hard I try. And if I wa­vered on that be­fore, this elec­tion proved it to me be­yond any doubt.

What I am left with is the chal­lenge of chang­ing me. No mat­ter how “good” or “right” I think I am, there is room for im­prove­ment. I must look into the dark cor­ners of my own psy­che and have the courage to face and root out any lin­ger­ing big­otry or ide­ol­ogy. And I am sure they are there. Only by do­ing that can I do the work that I feel must be done. This elec­tion and its con­se­quences is about much more than our com­mu­nity. Un­til we build a tent that cov­ers and pro­tects all vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, our work is not done and we are not safe. “Their” fight is our fight. The sooner we ac­cept that, the sooner we can move for­ward–to­gether. Chris Cash is co-founder/owner and man­ag­ing part­ner of the Ge­or­gia Voice.

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