This week I tore through MoveOn.org’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country. When I first started to read this book I felt like it was all of 40 pages of content stretched into 140. It was a busy week, I wanted to (no pun intended) move on to some other assignments. However, after about the first 50 pages I got really interested and inspired. I think that it is so helpful to hear about how just one little thing really and truly does make a difference. Sure, we hear that all the time from professional speakers, campaigners, and politicians but reading about a mother of three who phone banked whenever she could is exactly the kind of story we need to hear going into the election.
Anyway, I started asking myself, “how do I love my country?”
This might seem like a diversion, but work with me here for a minute. The other night I spoke to a dear friend who I haven’t heard from in months. She commented that “something must’ve really clicked in [me] while I was in SD.” Until she said that, I think I hadn’t realized that it really was jumping into some serious campaign work in SD last summer that got me over the initial political activism hump.
Last year I mentioned, kind of offhandedly to a friend here that I was interested in reproductive rights work and that it was just so terrible what they’re doing out in SD and blah blah blah and she said “oh, you know my family is friends with the state director of Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls.” There is a long story in here but to just cut to the chase I kind of impulsively agreed to an unpaid 6-week internship in Sioux Falls, SD (!) in a field that was separate from what I study.
It was the best decision I ever made. No questions asked. I’d do it again, all of it– living in a basement and drinking margaritas alone on my 25th birthday, having protesters outside the clinic pray for me and all. If you’d asked me 2 years ago if I’d spend my 25th birthday working in an abortion clinic in a sate I’d never been to I’d’ve said you’re crazy. Now, though, it seems like the perfectly logical place for me to end up! Going out to SD cemented my belief in a woman’s right to choose and I learned that working for what you believe in isn’t hard, it isn’t scary, and even the anti-choicers aren’t so awful to you (at least to your face).
Yeah, so I guess that if I had a gray box of “tips” on loving your country it’d be this:
- Figure out what issues are your “absolutes” (for example, I could never vote for an anti-choice candidate, ever, and that’s how I decided to try to work for an organization like PPSD or NARAL).
- Trust that it’ll work out– housing, printer ink, stamps, whatever you need somebody else who feels strongly will be there to help.
- You don’t have to go to “ground zero” in the abortion wars (i.e. SD), there are tons of opportunities right where you are. H*yas for Choice has given me a huge community of support and activists to draw from.