☕️ Insufficient Coffee

A Big Tent in America

Published 2016-11-10

The electoral college has legitimized an agenda that seeks to tell many of my friends and colleagues that they are not welcome in America. That they are only to be tolerated in the shadows. That denigrating them is acceptable national discourse, and will be rewarded with prestige.

This leaves me heartbroken, but it does not leave me beaten.

To everyone I love who is threatened with marginalization or even violence: I will help fight the good fight alongside you.

I rarely speak about my politics or my beliefs, but that must change in an environment this toxic. I can no longer be only a silent ally.

I believe that all people are created equal, deserve equal treatment under the law, and have a right to liberty: to live as they see fit, in the pursuit of happiness. This, as I’ve been told, makes me a liberal. The term so many hate most. So be it; I will own that. If believing in the decency of my friends and family makes me a hated liberal, despise me. Bring it on; I can take it.

I am a feminist. That means that I believe women are every bit as capable as men. For example, I believe, by statistics or the grace of God, that there are a certain number of brilliant people in the world. Half of those brilliant people are women. The world needs those brilliant people to do great things, not to be discouraged and driven away! My industry absolutely needs brilliant people, and it’s still made up of over 88% men. The maths are easy: software engineering is starving itself of brilliant women because we generally want to hire people that look and think just like us. Yet diversity in ideas is repeatedly shown as a major contributor to success! I’ve been working to de-bias the hiring process that puts off talented female engineers, so maybe we can save the world a little bit faster.

I am straight and cisgendered, but to all my LGBTQ friends: we are all children of God, and we must all be equal in the eyes of the law. I celebrated marriage equality; I am very aware of all the incredible tragedies that have befallen loving couples being denied even deathbed hospital visitation rights before Obergefell v. Hodges. We must never return to such barbarism.

Some in my family disagree with me. I am regularly forwarded emails telling me — well, people like me — to leave “their” country. I’ve certainly considered emigrating numerous times; I have all of the means to do so, but this country is my birthright. No, it is our birthright, and I will help shoulder the burden of protecting your hard-won rights.

Katie and I are donating what we can to:

  • Planned Parenthood, because no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition,
  • The American Civil Liberties Union, because they are a bulwark against government overreach into our lives, and
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science, because I like to think if we all were a little better at critical thinking, ours would be a stronger democracy.

It’s not enough, merely donating money, but it’s a start. I know you’re much wearier than I am, and that I have much to learn, but I do have excellent inspiration:

  • My mother has spent her career protecting marginalized people from abuse and neglect; I cannot even fathom how many lives she’s saved, how many people whose existence has been bettered intersecting with her life, and
  • My brother Jay, working more than 20 years in ambulances and emergency rooms, has literally and directly saved countless more lives.

I am so proud of them; they’ve taught me that Grace is free and unmerited, to be given to all. They’ve set me a high bar: the two of them always strive for highest ideals of service and humanity. Everywhere, life is full of heroism.

As one of my colleagues (currently working at 18F in Washington DC) so succinctly reminded me: “politics isn’t government, and governing isn’t someone else’s problem. It’s ours.” [1] It’s time for me, at least, to step up and get involved.

[1] https://medium.com/code-for-america/the-work-ahead-public-service-under-trump-b37446bbcde2