By Jane Hoover
Courage comes from the willingness to be vulnerable. I look at people who write editorials and think that they are brave people no matter if I agree with their opinions or not. They are willing to put themselves out there to be heard. One of my heroes, Dr. Brené Brown says that there is no courage without vulnerability. If you have not heard her speak, Google her TED talks. She is inspiring to say the least.
I don’t know about you, but I have not been brave enough to put my opinions into writing and I don’t feel I am alone. We have all of the negative self talk that goes through our minds such as: I don’t write well enough and someone will make fun of my grammar, or what if my friends don’t like what I have to say and shun me, or what if my opinion affects my business or my job and on and on.
So here goes my attempt at courage:
I am a health care provider in Sandpoint and, over the past three years, I have watched the disintegration of values in our country. I have seen an incredible increase in depression, anxiety, insomnia and suicide. People are feeling a weight hanging over their heads and are losing their ability to cope effectively. They feel a world that is spinning out of control and feel they have no power to impact the decline. People also have the tendency to feel they are alone in their misery.
I think there is much we can do. We need to take back our power.
One wise counselor once told me that no one can take away your power unless you are willing to give it to them. So, I believe that this is our power and we are giving it away by the bucketfuls. I believe there are more of us than there are of them. I think there are more people who are looking for a community grounded in respect, empathy, inclusion and yes, love, not in fear and hatred.
We all want to feel safe. We don’t want to see another senseless war brought on by a reactive, immature president. We don’t want guns at the Festival at Sandpoint. We don’t want our police force armed with military equipment. We don’t want a smelter polluting our lake and our air. We don’t want low wages and high prices. We don’t want the insecurity of not being able to afford health care and homes. We don’t want families arrested at the border, put in prisons and separated from their children.
But, I think we are the nice guys. I think we worry about hurting other people’s feelings or worry about being alone in our beliefs, so we don’t speak out. Obviously, the people gaining power in our country do not have the same worries. They don’t seem to worry about playing nice. But, they are the vocal ones. They are gaining strength by supporting and feeding off of each other. They are gaining strength by instilling fear into our society and it seems to be working well. They are disintegrating the very core of what makes us feel safe enough to grow and prosper together as a nation.
I am lucky to have many friends. I also have the honor of listening to a lot of people who feel safe in my office and share their worries and fears. Everyone always thinks they are alone and that is a scary place to find yourself. We need to show each other that we are not alone. We need to find it in ourselves to have the courage to speak out.
I think too many of us are waiting for the next election and think we can make it all better when we vote again. Well, I think we thought the same thing three years ago and look where that has gotten us. Or, we don’t think our vote will matter so don’t bother to get engaged or to vote.
My worry is that we are allowing a small group of people to become too powerful. I am concerned that they will cheat and lie and sway the opinions of others through fear. I am worried that our elections will continue to be manipulated if we don’t pull together now and realize that there are more of us than there are of them. We need to voice our opinions just as loudly and strongly as our adversaries. We need to find power in numbers and support each other.
This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. Many of my friends, who are Republicans, are appalled by the direction our country has taken. I, for one, want to continue to be proud of America. I cannot imagine letting my child stand up and lie like our president without consequences.
We need to find courage. We need to be brave. Come on, we can do this.
Jane Hoover is a Priest River citizen and nurse practitioner in Sandpoint.
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