By Jeff Cours, Member of Indivisible 49 Leadership (Read at the Weekly Rally at Issa’s Vista Office on Tuesday, October 3, 2017)
A quote from Twitter: “There's a medical center down here [in Puerto Rico], and everyone that was in the Intensive Care Unit, died. Everyone.”
A quote from Facebook: “Going to pick up my sister. She is inconsolable... Her best friend was shot in Vegas last night. She died this morning. Hold your loved ones tight.”
What can we do in the face of such events? What should we do?
One thing is to hold our loved ones tight. Not just family, not just friends, but strangers, too. Hurricane Maria and the Las Vegas shooter didn’t distinguish between family and strangers. When you’re facing a crisis, strangers may be the only ones around to help you.
But there’s a more important reason for embracing strangers: embracing strangers helps us grow beyond ourselves. It helps us to be better than the self-centered, “me first,” “my friends first,” “my country first” approach to life that drives polarization and increases divisions in our society. Embracing strangers shifts us out of that mode, and, as a result, we all end up better off.
So hold your loved ones tight, and be generous in who you embrace.
Another thing we should do is hold our leaders accountable for real leadership. Politics is no game. Decisions have repercussions. Tax and healthcare policies affect emergency room staffing. Trade policies affect which ships can bring what relief supplies to an island. Real, principled leadership is vital. People live or die as a result of our leaders’ decisions.
And real leadership means actions and votes, not just words. When an elected representative spends a weekend at a golf tournament while Puerto Ricans are dying, we should hold him accountable. When an elected representative tweets about praying for the victims, families and first responders in Las Vegas, saying “we’re with you,” but consistently votes against gun control and for healthcare changes that would undermine treatment of mental illness, those votes should come with accountability.
Here’s another quote for you. It’s an old one, much older than Twitter or Facebook.
“You know a tree by its fruit.”
It doesn’t matter how good the nursery claims it is or what the tag on it says it will do; in the end, you’ll know what sort of tree it really is by the kind and quality of fruit it bears.
What fruits have your elected representatives been bearing?