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Grassroots Change After The Overturn

As soon as I heard the news, my immediate reaction was, "Well, that's not gonna last." I could see, in a flash, the uprising of all walks of life (the 55% of pro-choice Americans) doing everything in their power to undo the Supreme Court's landmark decision. So far, I'm not wrong. There's a handful of Conservatives who think the decision was a mistake, and as I sit here typing this, protesters from the Women's March in DC are probably still buzzing as they attempt to unwind at the end of their night.

Why am I still complacent? Why aren't I doing my part in replacing the rug that's been pulled out from under our feet? I suppose I'm still waiting for my cue. Even so, I have considered a rather depressing possibility. That perhaps we live in a country that was actually buckling at the knees the moment Roe v. Wade made abortion rights a constitutional right five decades ago. Perhaps dealing with such a matter on a state-by-state level is a more realistic reflection of what our limited country is capable of, whether we like it or not. And perhaps there's also a silver lining for pro-choice activists. This is an opportunity for us to make grassroots change within our state of residence. Are we superficially a pro-choice country or are we actually a pro-choice country? When a foreigner looks at a political map of pro-choice states (let's assign the color green) versus pro-life states (yellow), would it be more satisfying and truthful to see more green on that map than yellow rather than a question mark as to how those states actually believe? State-by-state grassroots change would mean that we actually did the influential work and saw the change for good.

Then I have to ask myself, "How do we effect change?" Get ready to not like my answer.

The biggest obstacle I see right now blocking us from effecting real change is the amount of demonizing we do to anyone who doesn't agree with us. Take Kristi Noem, for example. What I heard from friends was, "She said she wouldn't allow 10-year-old girls who were raped to have an abortion." My reaction: "What a bitch!" Then the caffeine wore off and something didn't check right. So, I did some research (which was too easy) and found a transcript of the controversial interview she did with Dana Bash on CNN. Apparently, she was actually very disturbed by the story of an impregnated 10-year-old rape victim. Her words being, "This tragedy is horrific. I can't even imagine," and, "In fact, that story will keep me up at night. It absolutely will." In reality, she gave us the proper reaction expected by a sentient mother. However, she's still the governor of a red state, so she continued to deliver as such. Maharishi used to say something like, "You can't expect a walnut tree to start producing mangoes." We are very guilty of doing just that in our political climate today; being appalled whenever anyone ever makes a statement that opposes our own views. What got everyone riled up was when Noem said, "But, in South Dakota, the law today is that the abortions are illegal, except to save the life of the mother." Obviously, I don't see a mango tree in this interview. What I see is an ultra right-wing conservative who came on the show to represent and please her party; no more, no less. This woman never considered a scenario as horrific as the one Dana Bash presented to her, but now she will and she won't be able to erase the image from her head. Did Bash effect real change in Noem that day? Furthermore, Noem didn't just leave her statement there. In a "hint, hint, nudge, nudge" (albeit wimpish) sort of way, she did say that a situation akin to a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim could qualify as a life-threatening medical emergency. This governor is obviously too weak to be a monster. Instead, she's a pro-life grandmother (her beliefs, her right) whose hands were tied behind her back by her own political party whilst being troubled by such a horrific reality.

I have to admit... Reading all of that bursted my Angry bubble. I wanted to be in the throes of my fellow protesters and stay outraged. But seeing that a woman who I thought was a monster is actually just human, was sobering and had me thinking: The problem with our condemning parties is not that we're quick to anger. We're hateful. Anger can drive us to the forefront of a cause, but hate will only burn bridges, and we need bridges for our cause. Sarah Silverman, in her show I Love You, America, tried to build bridges with Trump supporters by going around Trump country to merely listen to these American voters who brought our worst nightmare to the White House. I would love to see that kind of brave activism today. It's way too easy to hate. We're above that, 2022. If we're actually "anti-hate" (that is, the antithesis of hate) then we'll start pacifying our enemies by letting them know that there's a mutual understanding: we are all Human, yet we all think we have it figured out.

(Please note: I don't keep up on the news. Kristi Noem could have fallen deeper into her own party's hypnosis by now and backtracked some empathetic things she said in that interview that would have made the radical right feel betrayed.)


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