Monday, November 14, 2016

The Sun Always Rises: Reflections On This Past Week's Events

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As I looked out into my back yard in Carroll Gardens this morning, I saw the sun rise slowly over my neighbors' brownstones and reflect on the golden leaves of an old maple tree. It was a glorious display and reminded me that there is beauty in every moment, there is potential in every new day.

Collectively, we are looking into a future that seems more uncertain now than it did before this past Tuesday.  No matter who you voted for in this past presidential election, let us acknowledge that the political discourse of the past few months was truly unworthy of a great country, of a people who have historically opened their country and shared its bounty with those fleeing their own.  We are a country of immigrants yearning for a better life and this has made us stronger and admired around the world.

Slowly, as we all come to terms with a new reality, we owe it to ourselves and to our children to change the tone of our debates.  We need to remember that it is not enough to vote every four years, we need to stay engaged at all times.  Let us hold our elected officials accountable, but more importantly, let us hold ourselves accountable.

In the coming months, may I suggest becoming active with our community board, advocating for a local park's or library group, or helping your child's school?
Let's revive the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association so that we can better advocate, let's make sure the Gowanus Canal gets cleaned up and let's make sure to have our voices heard when it comes to future developments, rezoning and infrastructure plans.

Let us start this new day in our neighborhood with a smile, a kind word to someone you meet along your way, a helping hand to a stranger, and a promise to have an open mind.  Let us make Carroll Gardens the kind of place we all can be proud of and where everyone feels welcomed and included, in the hope that, one day, it translates to every community in this country.


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

amen.

thank you

Triada Samaras said...

Katia, you are absolutely right. This is a wake-up call for our nation and a clarion call for activism on all levels. Many people have turned to me over the past few days because they know I have been 'activating' for a long time here in Carroll Gardens. They will turn to you too for the same reasons. I explain, often to their surprise, that being an activist can take many many forms and does not have to take all one's time. There are so many ways and you have mentioned but a few. So many people I know thought they did not have the "time" to activate but nothing is further from the truth. I understand what they are saying as I feel that way myself often. But we must make time. It is like going to gym, I tell them. You make time. "A note (email) a week" to your electeds!" I tell them. Four strong sentences is all you need. Maybe only three! Start with that. You can do it while you are on the treadmill or watching Netflix or....And you will make your children proud, and you will be a role model for them. Do you want to raise them to not know how to fight power with truth? They will come to understand that no democracy can work without voices and activators.
This is Civics 101 and because of the nature of our frantic-pace lives, so many of us have forgotten. But it's like forgetting to eat raw fruit. Sooner or later you are not going to feel very well. And our kids aren't going to feel very well either as they will be the unfortunate recipients by default of our inactions. And they might even blame us for our inaction, and lose respect for our lack of action. And who would blame them?

Susan Shapiro said...

Beautifully said Katia!!!!

chance bliss said...

i was at the election night party at clinton and president street. an interesting gathering of 200-500 people (it varied over the course of the evening) that at a few different times was interrupted by a number of trump supporters, including a very vocal group who lived on that block.

the next morning, i saw several men in our neighborhood wearing red "make america great again" hats. i got into an argument with one of them. i was offended that in a neighborhood that went overwhelmingly for clinton, here was an older man intent on antagonizing his fellow residents.

upon reflection, arguing with this man isn't how i want to move forward.

19% of the voters in carroll gardens voted for trump. that's about 1 in 5 people of people of those who voted. that's still pretty high, to me, so i shouldn't be surprised to see people wanting to celebrate their candidate's victory.

friends of mine have discovered through accident of small talk with store owners in this neighborhood, that some of them voted for trump. these friends now want to boycott these shops.

that's their prerogative but i will make the effort to find another way to engage.

my concerns are for those who are not white, who now have to deal with the added threat of harassment from emboldened trump supporters in this neighborhood. closest to me is my wife, who is not white, several of our friends who live on our block are not white. people i care about who live and work in this neighborhood who are not white. they feel a genuine sense of danger. it can't be denied. the threat is real. there's no way i'm going to be silent if some old-timer or his grandson feels that it's now ok to confront them.

to that end, a large group of friends met at a local bar on court street last night, the first step in what we hope will be a productive set of meetings, in order to teach our selves how to respond proactively to altercations, how to engage in better conversations, how to educate our selves on mechanisms of the legislative process, how to get first-hand perspectives that are different than our own, and other ways to get involved.

baby steps.

Katia said...

Chance Bliss,
Thank you for your thoughts. Yes, baby steps and speaking out when we see hate are the best responses.
I was horrified to learn of the incident at Bar Tabac over the week-end. The constitution gives us freedom of speech, but it does not give us the freedom to attach, harass and spread fear.
Surely, civility should be the basis for any political discourse and something we should all aspire to, democrat or republican.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the great majority of Trump supporters are decnt, hardworking Americans who just have a different take on politics, the economy, and where they want to country to go. There will always be a few "bad apples" but I don't believe the majority of Trump voters are bigoted and mean-spirited. Now is the time for all of us to work together, constructively and maybe with compromise, to accomplish the important work that needs to be done. Yes, we will have disagreements but we can work through them. We really are stronger together even though we may have disagreements. Thus has politics ever been. Doesn't mean we let the few loud-mouthed bigots become the face of the new administration. We need to,give the next four years a chance, and be helpful rather than a hindrance.

Kathleen Leone said...

Hello,
I too attended the rally, in support of President- Elect Trump. In no way were we rude. We were definitely outnumbered by Hillary supporters, but we were doing just as you were, rooting for our candidate. That's the great thing about this country, we all are able to have our own opinions and voice them, but it's disheartening to see that in a neighborhood that is all about inclusion and open to different and unique beliefs, some people want the values and beliefs of this neighborhood to be the same. We are all not democrats nor are we all republicans. we all chose the candidate we thought was best for the job based on their policies and platform. Of course there are things we all disagree with in both candidate's platform, but we should all respect one another's political stances.

chance bliss said...

kathleen and anonymous at 1:08 a.m., that you may vote for the republican platform, i can understand, and yes, we can disagree yet we can all commit ourselves to the democratic process and respect the results, but, with all due respect, trump is not the same as the republican platform. what he stands for is very different and far more insidious and that goes to the heart of the issue.

how do you stand by a candidate who admits to sexual assault on women; who, beyond doubt, is a bigot and a racist; and whose final campaign ad was intensely anti-semitic? it's hard for me to understand how republicans, or any voters, can defend that, and then ask me to respect that.

so yes, you can talk about asking for respect for your political stances - i can do that - but sexual assault is not a political stance, it's a crime. you can talk about the republican platform on economics and, there, we can agree to disagree, but i can't equate that kind of discussion with the kind of racist ideology that trump and his people trade in.

these things do not reconcile, so i don't accept the argument that we treat these topics in the same way. and therefore, i don't accept the argument that we should all get along now, and that we should all support the president-elect. no. he's not my president.

and so, when a trump supporter confronts my wife and i by yelling "f*** you. tell your mother to _______ my ________," which is what happened on president street the morning after the election, it only validates the misogyny that has been unleashed through trump's very deliberate campaign, that was designed to produce these kinds of confrontations. the president-elect chose to open that pandora's box, and there are plenty of people in this neighborhood who have now given themselves permission to unleash their hate. i can't respect that. and i won't. and nobody gets to hide behind the argument of "oh i'm just supporting my candidate but i'm not a racist."

wear your "make america great again" hat but know that this is not normal american politics. you won't be given a free pass. there's a price to pay for supporting that kind of hatred, and if you want respect, it has to be earned.