Today we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who fought tirelessly for civil rights and justice and lost his life in pursuit of equality and freedom.
Of King’s many powerful speeches and quotes, there is one that resonates loudest with me right now:
“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
For me and an ever increasing number of Americans the partial government shutdown is something we must stand up against. Regardless of your opinion on the wall, the fact that in the name of “security” we are currently not paying the people who actually protect us—TSA and Border Patrol agents, the Coast Guard, and prison guards—is insane. To say nothing of all the other government employees and contractors who are currently unable to pay their bills and who face hungry families and lost homes.
Worse still, the number of victims of this insanity keeps growing:
- Farmers who can’t get the loans and information they need to plant and run their farms this year.
- The small business owners and entrepreneurs who can’t get their loans approved by the Small Business Administration.
- People who rely on the SNAP (about 38 million, per the Sept 2018 data) and WIC (just under 7 million, per Dec 2018 data) nutrition programs to help them feed their families may not receive funds in March if this continues.
- A food supply endangered by the reduced amount of food industry inspections and unpaid inspectors.
- Side note: there are an alarming number of issues that involve our food supply.
- Taxpayers in a tax season with unpaid and/or furloughed IRS workers.
- And let’s not forget our national parks, an important part of our national identity, that are either closed or not being properly maintained. This means no trash removal (both rubbish and vandals), bathroom cleaning, and, scarier still, wildfire prevention maintenance.
- On a local level, in Colorado the craft beer industry is being impacted by the shutdown. Even our beer is in peril.
Oh, and for those of us worried about the creep of fascism, the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institute (including the National Zoo and its webcams) are currently closed. Access to portions of our nation’s history is currently CLOSED. This is not good.
If you have been following the news, none of this is news. But what I ask is that you don’t just observe the issue. Don’t remain sitting.
Stand up. For our fellow Americans. For our national heritage. For the future of our country.
How to do this?
- Reach out to your representatives. Let them know that holding our citizens, security, and heritage hostage as leverage is not OK.
- Do what you can to help those in need by donating to food banks and supporting the businesses that are supporting the unpaid workers and others impacted by the shutdown.
- Donate to the National Park Restoration Fund and get on the list to volunteer once the shutdown ends.
- Do your research and make educated choices when voting.
Our own government is currently not acting on behalf of the people. Let’s do our part to make sure we are.
Photo Credit: Demarsico, Dick, photographer. Rev. Martin Luther King, head-and-shoulders portrait, seated, facing front, hands extended upward, during a press conference / World Telegram & Sun photo by Dick DeMarsico. 1964. Nov 6. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/99404336/
Quote Credit: From his Address on Courage, at Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama (8 March 1965)