An Open Letter to the Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, and My Sorority Sister from College:

Dear Kay:

When I learned, only recently, that you are the governor of Alabama, I had the thought: What an amazing opportunity to shift the focus of leadership of modern politics from personal ambition and narrow-minded ego to a larger vision. A vision based on love and honor, respect and equality—indeed, a focus you and I pledged years ago during our college days, the essence of the sisterhood we share: “To hold truth inviolable, sincerity essential, kindness invaluable.”

I no longer live in Alabama, but memories of growing up there are dear to me, as are the family and friends who live there. Therefore, I was moved to write when I read your statements in an article from the Washington Post about Alabama senatorial candidate and accused sexual predator Roy Moore saying, if you were quoted correctly, that you would vote for the candidate because “we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate.” In other words, it’s “politics” first—before “truth, sincerity and kindness.” And although you were quoted as saying that you have “’no reason to disbelieve’ any of Moore’s accusers”—women of various backgrounds who shared their personal experiences as teenagers of being inappropriately pursued and harassed by Moore—your words suggest that you place less value on the lives of women and children than on ‘politics as usual.’

If my Alabama mother and grandmothers were still alive (women with core values of hospitality, beauty and humanity), they would not only have been appalled that this man could be representing their state and their families, but, in addition, they would have been horrified with the election last year of a self-professed sexual predator as U.S. president—a crude bully also known to be less than honest and trustworthy in his personal and business life. They would have raised the old-fashioned question of moral responsibility: How could we allow men accused of sexual misconduct on multiple accounts have the power to make decisions that will affect the lives of millions of women and children?

Men (or women who defend such abusive behavior) can no longer hide behind “Oh, that’s just how men are” or “Oh, that’s just locker-room talk”—it’s not and women aren’t putting up with that conceit anymore! Nor can we accept mean-spirited “girl talk” as the norm for women if we want a respectful and safe world for our daughters and granddaughters. I hear many people profess their “Christian beliefs” while judging or disrespecting another. How thin can someone slice their so-called “Christian beliefs” before their words and actions have nothing to do with being “Christ-like”?

“Love one another” is not always the easier thing to do; but it’s simply the right thing. When we have the courage to speak and act from our heart, then everyone wins. If we speak and act from fear and exclusion, resentment and hate, then we get the toxic world we have today. If the only remedy to fear is love, then each of us have a lot of loving to do!

Thank you, Kay, for your service. Please make it count for the well-being of all of us on this fragile and glorious planet we call home. (And I believe there is a place for our pledge of “truth, sincerity and kindness” even in the world of politics!)

In love and sisterhood,

Cornelia Powell

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