In Our America

Some reflections for the tumultuous time that is America today.

This is not an overnight, temporary crisis.

We are entering a period of full-on internal warfare: another generation is about to find their days, their lives, marked by demonstrations, activism, and violence. It will get worse before it gets better.

Now is the time for activism; it is not the time to sit by, watching, civilly expecting someone else to defend our rights.

Think this sounds overly dramatic? I think not. The tea leaves are all lined up. If the world calms and you can slip into a life untrammeled by extreme currents of political activity, fine. Enjoy it. But I am not counting on it.

Now is not the time to be shy; it’s time to stand up and be counted. A majority of this country does not support the extreme positions of the current Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Republicans are only 27% of this country, after all. Many of them, including many of my own friends, the recipients of government aid and the grandchildren of immigrants, also do not endorse extreme positions of bigotry, authoritarianism, and greed.

So now, redirect your daily life, your career, the focus of your time, with this intent in mind: what can I, with my unique skills and abilities, do to help? How can I play my part to right the ship of America, to unite it, setting it on a new course, in this era that really, really needs me?

Some things to do:

  • Do you welcome immigrants – and Muslims and gays and Mexicans? Put a sign on your door that says so.
  • Or perhaps you own a business? Put that sign in your shop and on your website.
  • In banking or finance? Learn about the important role of strategic investment and divestment in political change.
  • In the arts? Use your artistic voice to speak up – messages in every medium are critical.
  • Did you overhear a remark or see something that your gut tells you is wrong? Speak up – don’t let it slide.
  • And you’re certainly a consumer: use your purchasing power – tell companies why you are boycotting them and get your friends to do the same. See links.

If you are under 40, prepare yourself. Your future will be different from what you imagined only a year and a half ago. But you have a very important role to play.

If you are over 40, prepare the younger people in your life, prepare your own children. Do not let them sink into despair or escapism. Be a role model for staying engaged, productively, positively, daily.

If you have friends or family in other countries, reassure them of the essential goodness of the vast majority of American people. Remind them – as if they didn’t know already – that we’re in for a very rough patch. And that the time may come when we will need them as allies.

Be grateful this is happening now. Yes, now, not 20 years from now, not in another era when someone else would deal with it. Why? Because we have with us many people – of every political affiliation – with a deep understanding of the arc of history.

The generation scarred by World War II well remembers the fight against Hitler and fascism; veterans of the Vietnam War know what happens when college students take to the streets; descendants of the Civil Rights movement know the sacrifices necessary to be heard. They – we – all know that progress can feel elusive, but that, yes, progress is possible and it does happen.

Work in your private life to speak up, and work to regain the public, political levers of power. Mobilize now for November and for 2020.

I have lived all over the world and enjoyed many years in other countries, but I am also a proud daughter of the American revolution. I have friends and relatives across the political spectrum. But I have no intention of leaving my own children a US which trumpets unchecked intolerance, cruelty, racism, and environmental degradation.

Dining For Women Conference

Dining For Women

Knowledge is Power Conference May 4-5

US Institute of Peace, Washington DC

Over 300 chapter members, leaders, grantees, staff, and volunteers gathered in Washington to celebrate DFW’s 15th Anniversary and help plan the future. The energy, sharing, laughter, and learning could not be beaten! Safe to say we all wanted the weekend to continue – how many conferences can you say that about?

See more on DFW’s Facebook and website and, if you’re not a member already – find a Chapter near you and join now!

As one wonderful grantee said at the beginning of her panel remarks, “I didn’t realize it before I came, but this feels like a secret society. You can say anything and everyone just helps you!”

Our 19th Annual Film Festival!

The Through Women’s Eyes (TWE) Film Festival was back at the Sarasota Hollywood 11 this April, bigger and better than ever. Once again we partnered with the Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) and our fantastic line-up of 19 short and six feature TWE films included:

  • On Her Shoulders,” a riveting documentary about Nadia Murad, a Yazidi in Northern Iraq
  • Half the Picture,” Amy Adrion’s exploration of women in Hollywood, and, of course,
  • RBG,” the full-length feature which reveals the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsberg before, well, before she was notorious!

I’m delighted to add that RBG won the audience choice award for the entire combined Sarasota Film Festival and TWE.

Through Women’s Eyes is an annual program of the Gulf Coast Chapter of UN Women-USNC. Our Chapter works to educate the community about gender equality, advocate on behalf of women and girls, and fundraise to support the global programs of UN Women. As Chapter President, I get to witness both the incredible amount of work that goes into this festival as well as the final products on the screen – and of course the reactions of audiences as they see films that make them laugh, cry, and above all, turn to their seatmates and start discussing.