As 2018 comes to a close and we look forward with anticipation to 2019 it is my hope each of you will have many things about the past year to celebrate and your celebrations will be safe and you will be lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family. May you and they be blessed with good health and happiness in the coming year and find your lives are only getting better and better.
We are living in tumultuous times and while many of us are both privileged and lucky to be doing well we should never forget those many around us who are not as fortunate. There are the parents and children who have been separated from each other by the Trump administration; refugees around the world forced to flee their homes, many living in tent camps because they have been displaced by war or famine; LGBTQ+ children living on the streets because they were thrown out of their homes by parents and family who wouldn’t accept them; and too many of the elderly subsisting on food stamps and without adequate healthcare. As we enter the New Year let us not only keep them all in our thoughts, but more than that, we must make helping them one of our New Year’s resolutions. If we all do that, collectively we will have a chance to make the world a better place.
Doing something to help can take many different shapes for each of us. If you are celebrating like I am the recent “blue wave” that rolled across the United States in the midterm elections you could do something to see it continues into 2020. The new majority in the House of Representatives will be making a good start when it elects Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House on Jan. 3. In 2019, instead of a House of Representatives doing everything in its power to make life more difficult for hard-working Americans this new Democratic majority can make a strong statement on the direction in which we want the country to move. We can urge them to do this by passing legislation to provide for equality for the LGBTQ+ community; guarantee voting rights for all Americans; curtail the amount of money in politics; fix the Affordable Care Act to ensure all Americans will have affordable, quality healthcare; and fix our crumbling infrastructure. While the Republican Senate and the current sad excuse for a president may not pass or sign any of this legislation it should be passed in the House as a commitment to the American people about what they can expect if they vote for a Democratic president and Congress in 2020. So each of us must continue to vote, support candidates we like, and to resist.
But beyond politics each of us should choose at least one charity or cause to actively support. There is so much we can each do on our own if we are just willing to spend some of our time and any money we can afford. Mentor a child, volunteer in a soup kitchen, or make a donation to an organization like SMYAL or Whitman-Walker Health. We can spend more time with a friend who is ill, or a neighbor who is elderly.
Some will want to make it a habit to support the small businesses in their own communities as they are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. We can spread cheer by simply being positive. We must each commit to speak up when we hear someone make a racist, sexist, homophobic or anti-Semitic comment. We should never silently accept people who say those things because we know to do so proves the slogan silence=death true. We can join organizations like the ACLU and GLAAD or the Anti-defamation League. We can support the Southern Poverty Law Center because they continue to speak up for us and there is strength in numbers.
So during this festive holiday season, whether you celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza or just the coming of the New Year let us each commit to continue to resist and do so with actions both large and small as we wish each other good health, peace and joy. Let’s recommit to caring for each other and sharing with each other the bounties we have, knowing only by supporting each other and standing side-by-side will we survive these difficult times and leave no one behind.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.