I made an off-hand comment to someone recently that the reason I was working on Mari’s campaign was to hold back the despair. Though perhaps a little cynical, this is mostly true. It is easy for anyone to feel a bit hopeless these days, even as we recognize that living in Vermont is keeping us safe from many of the things that are causing us worry.
Except Vermont isn’t actually as far from the rest of the world as we’d like to think.
We don’t have forest fires and hurricanes but our climate here is changing. I live on a farm and the unpredictability of rain and temperature is a daily conversation, where worries about irrigation pumps and lost crops are constant. We don’t have repeated shootings of unarmed black men, but I could provide a long list of the ways that I experience ignorance and racism as a brown person living in rural America, how I worry about what might happen if I get pulled over on any dirt road. Children aren’t being separated from their families at our closest border, but our dairy industry remains silent on the necessity of migrant labor to keep itself alive, friends and acquaintances unable to ask for their overtime pay because of fear of deportation.
In fifth grade my teacher Mrs Pickens had our class read Julie of the Wolves and there is this one line from the book that I often think about. It is in a scene when Julie is remembering advice from her father... ”Change your ways when fear seizes, he had said, for it usually means you are doing something wrong.” For Julie, this is about surviving in the tundra with only wolves to rely on. Though perhaps not as personally demanding, it has always prompted me to examine fear and then make a change in my actions, that action is actually the best way to contend with fear.
It's an idea that I think many people can identify with in this moment, as we struggle to figure out how we can make a difference in the chaos of our everyday. And sometimes it seems completely futile to me, that we are struggling against huge forces or entities that could never be moved by a lawn sign, or a protest, or by buying secondhand. So I’ve decided to do more.
I know nothing about political campaigns or running for office, but I do know that I care about having more women in government and that I want to be assured that my representatives care about their communities. Vermont has always had this ethic of “supporting local” and I think that should include our politics. I can’t always feel that my words or actions are going to change something on a national level, but I can feel that they are going to change something here. Want to feel that way too? Find out who is running in your area. I guarantee they could use some more volunteers.
Written by Samantha Langevin