We Won. What Comes Next? (audio)

After the election was called for Biden on Saturday November 7th, I called my people and we cried and screamed and laughed and finally, finally, exhaled.

We did it. It was official. We won.

As did future generations. As did the world. As did science, truth, dignity, and grace.

There are too many reasons to be grateful to list them all here. If you voted for Biden you know why you did, and you brought about this phenomenal win for this country.

Against so very many odds.

Against a machine that was actively and aggressively trying everything it could to silence us. Which is still trying, pathetically, recklessly, dangerously, to pull the nation into chaos in a last ditch effort to uphold some sort of deranged bullshit form of alternate reality.

Lawsuits. Lies. Fear mongering. It’s all petulant nonsense, but they will push and pound and tantrum over it for months.

And to be honest, I spent the last four years feeling an undercurrent of anxiety so strong I felt like paying attention to the news was like a survival mechanism. I thought that as long as I see what is happening and stay vigilant, I would see what was coming before it hit.

Before it could get me. Before it could hurt the people I love. By staying engaged, I thought I would see it coming in time.

But the problem is, that the greatest threat to our future is not what is about to come next. It’s what we have refused to deal with from our past. Our own apathy, cynicism, laziness, ignorance.

It’s thinking none of this is our responsibility. It’s our thinking someone else will care so I don’t have to. It’s our refusal to talk politics. It’s in not protecting those who have the least.

It’s what we took for granted. What we refused to understand, or support, or do, or say.

So when I think about what comes next, I think about the things I considered normal before which I do not want to return to.  I think about who I was before and who I want to be on the other side of this thing. Because in a very real way we are on the other side.

We made it through. We must celebrate this phenomenal victory. We must. And we must take a breath, let it sink in, let it fortify us. Think about what comes next.

For me, I’m going to spend time reflecting on what I have learned over the past four years, and there is so very much. I want to make sure I remember how far we have come. The people I would never have met if it weren’t for this radical time. Incredibly powerful, mighty, gorgeous people.

One thing is for sure. Now we see who values human life and who does not. Who truly wants equality and who does not. We know the hideousness of outright cruelty and how dangerously close we came to fascism taking full hold in America.

We know who to align with and who to leave behind.

There are demons in me I had to confront. Ugliness, hatefulness, that I have been forced to reckon with inside of myself.

And that’s ok.

I owe it to the people I have found who believe in a brighter more dignified future to work out my own issues, whatever it is in me that was keeping me quiet when I should have gotten loud. Whatever it is in me that had caused me to shrink instead of expand.

Being forced to fight, it turns out, teaches you how to fight. We learned, we adapted, we organized, we were relentless, we were fierce and bold and true in our compassion.

The thing we fought so hard to uphold, a democratic republic, has been saved because we saved ourselves. And what was at stake will always be what is at stake: our lives.

 

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Photo by Maria Lysenko

 

 

 

America, the Beautiful and the Broken

I’m sipping my morning coffee while looking out my writing room window at the auburn trees set in patchwork design against a soft blue sky. And I can feel it. I can feel the beating hearts all across America as we wait for the election results to be announced officially, even as we know exactly what they are.

President Biden. Vice President Harris. This we know.

And just to type those words together sends a current of heat and comfort all through my being. The amount of anxiety, damage, and depression the last five years have caused us as individuals and as a collective society has been immeasurable.

We tried our best to soldier through it. It was not easy. It has been traumatizing and terrifying to watch and experience every. single. fucking. day. You cannot imagine it. Only living through it can teach you what it is like to realize how very much you have to lose and to feel helpless as you watch it being taken brutally, monstrously, intentionally, indifferently, cruelly.

But we turned toward each other. We found each other. We the ones who believe in decency, dignity, compassion, justice, equality, liberty.

We came together and we turned our pain into action and we voted out the insidious evil. It will not be enough, of course. There is still much deep soulful, ugly, and difficult work to be done. An activist I adore said it this way: we have cut off the head of the Hydra, but we need to get to the heart.

For me, I have become so much more clear. Much more aware of the trouble we face as a nation and a world, and also aware of what it will take to fix it. We are the leaders we need. We are the healers. We are the spirit and the answer.

But for this moment in time, as we hold each other at the dawning of a new day, a new season of hope, I am feeling so many things at once. Relief. Gratitude. Overwhelming gratitude for the kind and decent and hardworking citizens of our nation who made sure the election was executed smoothly, methodically, safely.

But the biggest thing I am feeling now is love. Love for all of the people in my life who rallied and worked to secure this major epic victory. Love for a country which is broken but trying like hell to heal.

And you feel it even deeper still when you know you earned it. Chose it. Fought day after day after excruciating day for it. Together. Just like we will have to keep doing, forever.

 

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Photo by Jakob Owens

How I’m Surviving Election Day USA 2020

It took four agonizing, traumatic, vile years but today is finally here.

Election Day in the USA and already nearly 100 million of us have cast our votes. Since I already turned in my ballot weeks ago (and verified that it was counted) I almost wanted to ignore today to spare myself the jitters, nausea, and lightheaded sickness that is watching the votes be counted.

Ha.

I’m too invested in the outcome to not look, to ignore, to check out, tune out now. If you are voting today, power to the polls, baby, stay in line, bring a mask, chair, water, snacks, joy and peace and resolve. And get the sticker, too. I wish I had the sticker.

If, like me, you are feeling anxious about whether Biden will win, I offer you these thoughts today in case they help. If not, well: whiskey.

The past four years have changed me in fundamental ways and I will never be the same. I will never be as naive, passive, or – ironically – fearful as I was four years ago.

I have learned too much both about the horror that can come when we don’t pay attention, and also about my own strength when forced to reckon with hard truths. Racism. Sexism. Discrimination. Authoritarianism. Democracy. Republic. Gerrymandering. Electoral College (fuck that, btw, we gotta kill that off). Protest. Truth. Lies. Pandemic. CDC. Environmentalism. Journalism. Messaging. Hope. Despair.

All of these concepts are radically changed, heightened, clarified for me now. I know how to use my voice in a way I never have before. I know what it means to decide once and for all what I stand for, and what I absolutely will not.

I have clarified my relationships. I know where I want to be and with whom with a clarity and conviction I never had before.

And I share all of this with you today because I know there are millions and millions of us who feel this way. And we can have deep hope in that. We can expound upon our collective strength and power rooted in that.

Because we are changed. We are newly formed. And we are not going away. No matter what happens today or tomorrow or this week or these next three months, we are not going back to the way it was ever again.

Resolve. Vigilance. Compassion. Kindness. Trust in science. Activism. Awareness. Awakening. Democratic participation.

These are the new normal.

No matter what happens today. We will never be the same. And my guess is, that is exactly what the wanna-be-dictator is so desperately afraid of.

Stay safe. Stay dangerous. I’ll see you on the other side.

Whatever that is.

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P.S. If you are alone tonight and don’t want to be (nobody should be), join me and thousands of others as we stick together virtually via Janaya Khan’s Instagram Live here: @Janayathefuture They have held my head and heart together all along. 

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Photo by Tuva Mathilde Loland

Does Your Vote Even Matter?

“The line between freedom and fascism, love and hate, justice and injustice, is us. It has always been us.”Janaya Future Khan

A common reason some will choose not to vote is because they will say their vote doesn’t matter anyway. That in the grand scheme of things, their one little vote means essentially nothing.

Another common one, which sounds similar but is of a different nature, is that they will not vote because they reject the system as a whole. That the whole political establishment is a mess, a disgrace, a lost cause.

Or they don’t like either candidate. They are both corrupt. Both filthy rich privileged out of touch with the average citizen.

And to all of this, I would say: Could be. It is true that there is corruption and disgraceful behavior. It is true money and politics are too deeply entrenched with one another. It is true neither candidate – this year especially – is the ideal representation of either party.

Also true at the exact same time (as 2020 has taught us so well to hold two difficult and opposing truths at once) is that “the system” we are talking about is democracy. Democracy is the system we’ve got. If we don’t want to keep it, what is the alternative?

Because throwing away your vote, and if enough people do it, is a good way to end the system. We are watching democracy crumble and fast, right before our very eyes. Is that really what we want? To let this shit burn to the ground because it isn’t working exactly or ideally the way we want it to?

We are in this now, like it or not. Difficult or not. Frightening, frustrating, disillusioning or not.

The only way to force democracy to work for us is to start by using our votes to choose what we want, one election at a time. You don’t get just one vote. Over your lifetime you get hundreds of votes in hundreds of elections, which is plenty enough to start steering the ship in our direction of choice.

If we want change, we have to do this from the inside out.

I was listening to Austin Channing Brown, a best selling author who speaks about racial justice, faith, and Black womanhood, and she suggested people who are struggling with whether or not to vote, or if their vote matters, to vote for the candidate who would do the most good for the most oppressed among us.

I understand feeling small. I understand feeling like your voice is just one among many – too many – to matter much at all. But we need to begin to open our minds to thinking beyond just ourselves, just voting for the candidate we as individuals like best, to looking at our society as a whole and where we want all of us to be in the long term.

If you have a better vision for this country, if you want us to get better, to get stronger, more compassionate, more free, you must vote in the direction of those things. Not because it “matters” in the grand scheme of things, but because it matters to you.

Does your vote matter…to you? Because in this election, we are holding the line between freedom and fascism, love and hate, justice and injustice.

Our democracy is broken. It is fragile and trembling, dangling by a thread.

But it is not beyond repair or beyond hope if we act now. Now, in fact, is all we have. Trump will do everything in his sadistic power to steal this election and ramrod this country into the throws of authoritarianism, he has shown us exactly who he is time and time again for years.

If you think your vote doesn’t matter now, try to affect the system in any meaningful way without having a vote at all. Without the right to protest. Without the right to speak truth to power without fear of violent retaliation.

I am voting Biden so I can look myself in the mirror on November 4th and the rest of my life knowing I did the very least I could to protect the people I love the most.

And the hard truth is? Just voting isn’t near enough, but it’s the only place to start.

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P.S. Please follow me on Instagram @allisonmarieconway and share quotes of my work if any of this resonates with you. It is a quick, kind, effective way to express your views with those who love and trust you most. Thank you!

P.P.S. If this post resonates with you please share it on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and/or any other platforms where you think it will reach like minded people who need to feel more empowered and less alone as we approach November 3rd. Words that resonate should be shared so communities can be made stronger, held more precious, and made less afraid. Get Out The Vote for Biden/Harris 2020.

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Photo by Roma Kaiuk

Something Which Eats Itself: Why We Must Vote Trump Out in November

We have become something unspeakable. Something which eats itself.

The current President of the United States of America is driven only by one thing: greed. And greed, by its very nature, can never be satisfied, it can never be filled; it will always be empty, it will always be starving, it will always be on the take.

Greed knows no other way.

Donald Trump knows only greed, and greed knows only one thing: ‘more.’

The insatiable need for more power, more money, more attention, more fame, more horror, more destruction, more chaos, more shock, more trauma, more ratings, more more more more until, ultimately, nothing more exists because greed has eaten everything.

And so it is forced, by its very own nature, to eat itself.

If left unchecked, unchallenged, undefeated, the only end to greed is the end of everything.

Donald Trump is not in the highest office in the world in order to serve or protect the American people, or any people at all in fact, except for him and his family. He stole the office because of greed, and because he is aligned with all of the very powerful people all across the world who know only greed, only acquisition at any and all cost, including, and sometimes centered around, the loss of human life.

Nothing is personal to the greedy, and yet everything is.

Entire lives lived out on full display devoted to a single insatiable sadistic relentless craving for more. Money. Power. Chaos.

Destruction, panic, and suffering for entertainment.

The fewer people on the planet, the less bothered these powerful people have to be with the inconveniences humanity as a collective pose to the obtaining of more land, more resources, more. Hence the denial of climate change. Let us burn and drown.  Let us fend for ourselves. Let us be extinguished by ignorance. Perish by smoke and mirrors.

And so they push ‘herd immunity’ and let the virus ‘run its course.’ It’s all a game. It’s one big worldwide episode of Survivor. 

Tell us patriotism means being willing to die for the economy.

It means to die for the NRA.

The people Trump has put in charge of the vital institutions of our democracy have been put there precisely because they are hellbent on destroying these very institutions. Placed in charge of the educational system, disease control, healthcare, mail delivery services, legal systems.

The ones who are supposed to protect us want only to annihilate us.

The country is being dismantled from the inside out. It goes on because there is no accountability. No force greater than greed has sufficiently challenged the greed, and so it goes. The threat is grave because it is invisible yet evident everywhere, it is hiding in plain sight. The call is coming from inside the house.

The flaunting of the corruption, the indignities, the lying, the deceit, the cruelty, the anger, the fear, the pardoning of cronies and criminals.

The refusal of even reputable media to call lying and cheating what it is. To speak truth to power. Even as the stakes have never been higher to do so.

It is not politics. The cleverest thing they have done is to convince us this is about politics. Fuck politics. ‘Politics’ is an illusion. It pretends to have lines you can cross or not cross, no. This is about the very basics of human decency, honesty, integrity. The value placed on human life, or the lack of value placed on it.

Basic human decency versus the vacant vacuum of greed which will never be satisfied until it eats everything and then is forced to eat itself.

If we do not vote Trump out of office in this election it is Game Over for our democracy. The ramifications will last generations and will decimate not only America but the world. There will be no stopping it. Already we are cut off from our allies, deliberately and recklessly, we are being systematically isolated, lied to, terrorized, bullied, abused.

It’s like the abused spouse who is cut off from anyone who may be able to help her. Made helpless, gaslit, and left alone. Much easier, therefore, to control.

No one is coming to save us.

So we have to save ourselves.

We get one last shot. We have got to make it count, we have got to win this thing and the only way to do it is in massive numbers that leave no question about the overwhelming outcome of this election in Biden’s favor.

But we won’t, unless we see just how very dire a situation we are currently in, and how very bad it will become if we do not shut it down in November.

It isn’t just that Donald Trump doesn’t care if we live or die – it’s that he is actively pursuing the latter.

We must vote Biden into the White House this November like our lives depend on it because they absolutely do. I do not write this to convert anyone who is already committed to Trump. There is nothing in that for any of us.

I write this for anyone in America who is thinking of sitting this election out for any reason. Please VOTE.  It matters. Vote while we still can. Vote while we still have a voice and a way to make damn sure it is heard. Make your plan, get registered, make sure all of your friends and family do the same.

Lastly, to my fellow Pennsylvanians, we are a CRITICAL swing state this year, in fact it was stated on fivethirtyeight.com that we are THE critical swing state in all of the USA. If PA goes red, Trump has an 84% chance of winning the Presidency. If we go BLUE Biden has a 96% chance of winning the Presidency.

We have become something unspeakable. Something which eats itself. The only way to stop the greed from destroying everything in its wake is to remove it, like a cancerous tumor, from the host.

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P.S. If this post resonates with you please share it on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and/or any other platforms where you think it will reach like minded people who need to feel more empowered and less alone as we approach November 3rd. Words that resonate should be shared so communities can be made stronger, held more precious, and made less afraid. Get Out The Vote for Biden/Harris 2020.

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Photo by Tania Medina