Editorial: Local actions remind us of our shared humanity
Precise numbers are impossible to calculate, of course, but an estimated 3 million people reportedly marched worldwide Jan. 21 to support human rights and express concern over the fate of those rights under President Donald J. Trump. And more than 1,000 of those people marched in McMinnville.
No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, those are impressive numbers, both internationally and locally. They speak well for people’s willingness to stand up for what they believe.
Americans, of all people, should recognize freedom is not a spectator sport. That principle crosses all political boundaries.
Public protest is important. Governments should have to fear the people, but people should not have to fear the government.
Protests put the government on notice that people will not simply eat what they are fed. They give citizens a chance to vent their emotions.
However, once those emotions are vented and the placards are stored in the closet, what then?
In the case of anti-Trump protesters, there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth, not to be mention plain old-fashioned moping. Sorry, but commiserating with friends on Facebook is not going to make the world a better place.
Continued, sustained effort is the only real antidote for despair. There are numerous ways people can take constructive action, many of them local.
People concerned about immigration, for example, can help immigrant families already here. Local groups such as Lutheran Community Services, Yamhill Community Action Partnership and Unidos Bridging Community can always use donated time and money.
Numerous local churches and nonprofits help vulnerable members of our society. Meanwhile, Oregon Action Together is hosting speakers this month and next to help raise the level of civic discourse and teach people to work with their legislators in Salem.
All these efforts share the benefit of being on the local level where people have the most significant and noticeably positive impact on one another’s lives.
There is another advantage. While we cannot all agree on whether or not to build a wall along the Mexican border or welcome refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, we can all agree that children next door deserve to be fed.
The people shivering on Cowls Street deserve shelter from the cold. While national events threaten to tear us apart, local efforts can bring us together and remind us of our shared humanity.
Addressing national events remains important. People must act globally as well as locally. No single action is enough, but no single action is unnecessary.
These are perilous times. That fact cannot be overstated, as America finds itself in an identity crisis.
It has been truly said that a nation is what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult. What sort of nation have we become in 2017? That question transcends the merely political.
It is a question Yamhill County residents can start answering in their own communities and neighborhoods.