From Lethargy to Vigilance

Since the shock of Nov. 8, I have had a sense of doom in slow motion. I know that I need to move on and gain new insight and a positive perspective, but I feel stuck, and I know that other mothers and parents in our campaign are also feeling disempowered, apathetic - or certainly lethargic.

We had so many successes in drug policy this year with marijuana legalization (Prop 64 in California and four other states). We also made great advancements in the years leading up to 2016 with Prop 47 sentencing reform in California and with the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. And, hearing that legislators are finally using the language of harm reduction and implementing policies that will dismantle the war on drugs is a major step forward.

But as we watched the Trump machine take over, promoting hatred and divisiveness, and giving permission to unleash the utmost demons of our nature, we became more and more horrified. In the end the shock of an upcoming Trump Presidency became a reality and all of our human rights and drug policy reform successes paled in comparison to the potential devastation of what appears to lie ahead. It feels like we are living in an altered universe – or better stated – reality TV.

As I try to find a more positive perspective, I am constantly thwarted because President-Elect Trump continues to fill his cabinet with the worst possible choices.

So, what is our role now? Do we have any power to stop this machine of destruction? How do we tease out and support what is good - if any good policies are proposed - while remaining vigilant to protect policies for which we fought so hard?

What I will not accept is to stand by quietly as all of our gains in drug policy, in a woman’s right to choose, in immigrant’s rights, LGBT rights, and the fight against racial injustice are eroded piece by piece… as we wait in fear for an even bigger insult to our liberties. Silence creates a form of acceptance. As individuals and families we must speak out for tolerance and equality!

Our Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign is creating a New Year’s #MomsResolutions social media campaign, announcing what we are prepared to fight for and defend, and what we will actively resist in the name of human rights and dignity.

We will support all efforts to promote hate-free communities, but that isn’t enough. We will also peacefully protest racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia.

If we hesitate and fail to protect the rights of our neighbors, who may be easier targets, and look away in a self-protective stance, while gearing up to fight for our own rights, then we will have lost our common decency. And, in the process, “evil” will have won over “good”.

All previous rules of integrity, honesty and diplomacy don’t seem to apply with this new administration. An authoritarian administration is looming that will swallow up our liberties. So, we must be vigilant, while holding tight to our own principles. Otherwise we run the danger of becoming absorbed in this machine and transform into the enemy ourselves.

It is time to wake from our lethargy and prepare to defend our values and our rights. We need to resist all forms of hatred and bigotry, and protect human rights and equality.

I believe it is my job as a parent advocate to constantly and consistently promote peace and tolerance, particularly when times are tough and we fear that we no longer have a voice. Now, more than ever, we need to work in coalition and with respect for one another and make our voices heard.

Gretchen Burns Bergman is Co-Founder/Executive Director of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing) and Lead Organizer of the International Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign. www.anewpath.org or www.momsunited.net

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