Choosing Your Battles

Sometime during my life path, when I was working as a full-time professional, active as a community volunteer, and raising three children, I had to admit that I couldn’t do everything. Even if I could do anything (not true: I can’t draw, keep time, or play any known sport), I had to make choices. Over the decades, I have acquired extensive volunteer organization leadership skills and experience. At the same time, my faith community and other organizations, like the League of Women Voters, keep vesting me with leadership roles, where I am supposed to look after everything.  How do I manage to have a life, focus more narrowly on doing a few things well,  and be effective?

My passion is for social justice in all forms, but my skills and expertise lie in economic justice. I My focus on economic justice doesn’t mean I don’t care about racial justice or justice for LBGTQ or climate justice or legal justice or any of the other challenges humans have devised that do or do not treat others as they deserve.  My answer is to draw a line between wholesale and retail, to use leadership skills for the wholesale side and my more specialized economic skills for the retail part.  As social action chair in my congregation, I draw on the League and other resources to stay alert for action opportunities on pending legislation or other events where people might want to express their opinions. I share them with the individuals who have passion, or expertise, or both in those areas.  I know which people to whom I should send information about climate change, discrimination, reproductive choice, and lots of other issues.  But I don’t respond to these calls for action directly (I do often send money) because I want to reserve my voice for where it is most likely to be heard, and that’s economic justice. I want to frame my arguments carefully so that those whose political perspective is different from my own might nevertheless be persuaded that there is something of value in what I have to say. And those whose perspective is closer to my own are more likely to use my points, arguments, suggestions. In that way, I have from time to time been able to influence legislation and even once in a great while, court decisions in my adopted very red state..

Most of you, I know, have particular causes or issues that are dear to your heart.  If you can focus on just a few and develop some expertise so that your head will support your heart, that’s great.  Maybe that focus is related to your work or career, like librarians fighting book banning, health care professionals having a say on women’s reproductive choice, teachers resisting politically motivated censorship of teaching actual history or encouraging critical thinking. A good friend of mine is a computer scientist who has dedicated herself to ensuring the safety and accountability of voting equipment, and her work has made a difference.  My nutritionist friend uses her skills to teach people to eat in more healthful ways and also to address world hunger.Or maybe that niche is defined by an avocation. A neighbor of mine is a quilter. She uses that skill to work with and promote the work of a worldwide organization that makes colorful kits of menstrual hygiene supplies for adolescent girls, so they don’t have to miss school and drop out. My animal loving friend devotes a lot of time and attention to finding good hoes for abandoned or unwanted animals.

Everyone has a skill, a passion, some specialized knowledge that they can use not only for their own satisfaction and that of family and friends, but also to make a difference in the world.  What’s your skill? What’s your passion? How can you join the two in a marriage that will give you joy and satisfaction and make the world a better place?

How About a Girlcott?

One way of getting the attention of public officials is voting and advocacy.  On the issue of a woman’s right to choose, I have done my due diligence, contacting my state legislators and some others who ae willing to accept email from people outside their local district.  But there are other forms of pressure that are often effective, including economic pressure.  Chambers of Commerce and state  Departments of Commerce live in fear of being boycotted.  In an environment where there is a shortage of skilled labor, firms must pay attention to the concerns of their female employees. Votes, matter, but so do voice and dollars.

Here ae some pressure points.

  1. Travel. Abortion laws will be a factor in my travel decisions.  I can tolerate certain limited restrictions on abortion , but not the six weeks’ gestation (which as any woman knows, is actually about four weeks!), the criminal penalties, and the efforts to prevent travel and telemedicine and pills by mail. I’m glad I made it to South Dakota in May while abortions were still legal, but henceforth I will be more vigilant about where I spend my tourist dollars.
  2. Meetings and conventions.  Ditto.  If you belong to any organizations that have events, trips, etc., encourage them to focus on those destinations where women are still considered people with the right to make their own decisions
  3. Business firms and mobile workers. Firms looking to relocate or expand should be made aware of the conditions their female employees, or their employees’ wives and daughters, will face if they  need an abortion.  I have lived in South Carolina since before Roe v. Wade, and it’s too late in my life to relocate, but I would strongly urge anyone (or firm) that is mobile to locate, relocate, or expand in a state where women are treated as fully human.
  4. Shop and invest. I am a firm believer in the power of the group who refuse to patronize forms that are openly opposed to a woman’s right to choose. Some of them we know about—Hobby Lobby, for example. Others have to be sought out.  If you are a socially responsible investor, find out if your companies support a woman’s right to choose in all ways, not just by a health plan that covers abortion. Cross state lines to shop if you need to.  I can do that; I live close to the North Carolina line, and right now they have a Democratic governor and no trigger law. Check when you shop online to see where the firm is located.  And it’s not enough to boycott, you need to tell them why you are boycotting.
  5. Silence is consent. I once had a tire slashed for having an ERA bumper sticker on my car.  Speak up.  If you leave your hairdresser or your formerly favorite restaurant because they are openly anti-choice, tell them why you won’t be returning.
  6. If you’ve got a religion, speak from your faith.  Progressive Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other faith traditions do not share the distorted, mistranslated, overly literalized reading of selected passages of the Bible used to keep women barefoot and pregnant. The view that the embryo is a full-fledged human being from the moment of conception is not science. It’s a religious view, one of many religious views, all of which are supposedly protected by the First Amendment.  My religion calls me that I respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person, including pregnant women. It calls me to practice compassion in human relations, and to affirm democracy as the guiding process in our common life.
  7. Find strength in numbers. There are all kinds of organizations that work to support reproductive choice, starting with Planned Parenthood and the Women’s Rights Empowerment Network. Give them your support, financial and vocal, for protecting women from this disastrous Supreme Court decision as well as more that may be on the way.

Surely somewehre on this laundry list you can find one or more ways to protest this disastrous Court decision as an expression of commitment to the lives of those already born.