Yesterday marked the 34th anniversary of the day the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday was signed into law. Celebrated as a ‘day on and not a day off‘, it is heralded as a time of offering service to the community. For many, that ranged from volunteering in soup kitchens and shelters to working with the elderly and veterans, to championing human and animal rights, to environmental action and spiritual upliftment.
As someone who was raised in the 1960’s and 70’s when Civil Rights, environmental concerns, the needs of those with mental health and addiction issues, the ERA, and LGBTQ issues were coming to the fore, I remain a tree hugging, gracefully aging hippie whose journalistic sensibilities are used for the benefit of those causes. As we face a new administration whose stated desires are to roll back those advances, to the distress of many of my mental health clients and concerned citizens nationwide, it feels essential to stand together with the intent to bring about cooperation and healing of the rift that it is causing. Resources are available to offer support and guidance to those in need.
As a therapist, it is even more important for me to remain steadfast in maintaining my own wellbeing. Self-care includes taking the time to rest, exercise, eat healthfully, be with kindred spirits, immerse in nature, listen to music, read, write, drum and dance. It also includes staying as positive and forward thinking as I can be, without succumbing to all too understandable fear.
It is easy to settle into a sense of numbness in the face of uncertainty. Some in my circles have advocated simply seeing this time as a spiritual upheaval for a higher purpose and endorse prayer and meditation as a curative. Others have urged on activism and protest, not turning a complacent eye to events and simply letting events unfold. I am exercising both ends of the spectrum. In the midst of mindfulness and open-hearted communication, I simultaneously take a stand for peace, as was modeled by Dr. King and many who followed, such as Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Aun Sang Suu Kyi and Malala Yousafzai.
Social justice has long been an issue in the mental health field. Per theWorld Health Organization, people with severe mental disorders die 10 to 25 years younger than the general population. Reasons for that statistic may include the stigma attached to mental illness which may result in missed diagnoses, lack of treatment, addiction, inadequate services and denial of problems by the consumer and their families. Clinicians are called on to be advocates for their clients as well as therapists and educators.
Racism is a factor in mental health referrals as well. Hate crimes have also escalated in the past few months. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 200 incidents were reported within a few days following the election. These included harassment of immigrants, women, Blacks and sexual minorities. While it is apparent that hatred is not newly born, it has been nurtured by the recent rhetoric.
I asked those I know what it is they take a stand for and was bolstered by their heartfelt responses:
- Love, possibility, inclusiveness, underdogs, and misfits
- In order: civil rights, women’s rights, reproductive freedom, the environment.
- I stand for peace, joy, laughter and fun!
- Inclusion, the disenfranchised, elder care, animal rights and my
- To enroll over a billion people taking on being responsible for their own personal LIBERTY. By powerfully choosing self-government, being 100% responsible for freedom of individual thought and action, and creating a personal relation between the individual soul and its Creator, these individuals will be at cause for creating ‘The Declaration of Independence For The World”. (By March, 2048)
- Equality for everyone
- Environmental and social justice
- Freedom of speech
- My child. Since my child is female, reproductive rights, too. But second only to my child, gun control.
- The Four Freedoms defined by FDR include Freedom from Fear. That would include basic health care. The irony here is that a humane and free economy would actually benefit by freeing the resources currently consumed in fighting each other and administration . . . The other freedoms, by the way, are Freedom from Want, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship. These are the minimum Human Rights defined after WWII.
- Leonard Peltier
- Everything I believe in
- Animal rights
- Social justice, environmental stewardship, biblical values.
- My daughter, my tribe, and for anyone who would ever threaten or hurt an innocent.
- Vulnerable populations
- Children and teens, my family
- Humanity and the planet
- I am a stand for forgiveness, love, and freedom.
- My daughter. Kids in public schools, and their teachers. Women’s reproductive rights. GLBTQ rights.
- freedom of expression for all
- The Power of Love.
- Peace, Tolerance, Joy
- Animals rights, climate change, justice.
- Equal rights, kindness
- Whatever comes up and is in need of defending. These days that seems to mostly be disability issues and gently explaining the harm when ableist bulls**t crops up. The rest of the time I try to put out as much joy, beauty, and kindness as I am able – that varies a lot from day to day, but I try.
- Human rights, women’s rights, and children’s rights. Spreading love and kindness and personal responsibility.
- Love, kindness
- Was thinking of this-this morning on my walk, and I thought ….I came here to stir things up… that would be a good description
- Respect and children being taught to be responsible.
- I take a stand for happy marriages and happy families. I take a stand for men and the human factors in their development. I take a stand for the feeding and uplifting of all children. I take a stand for continuing to develop the new religious mode in our time. I take a stand for my family. I take a stand tor the mutuality of causes and ideas knowing that if one succeeds my own cause will be furhtered. Hopefully I take a stand for my own well-being.
Although some may view these responses as liberal and of left-wing political persuasion, consider that they are about environmental sustainability, healthy relationships, peace rather than conflict, reconciliation, social justice, equal rights, and holding precious the next generations. Can anyone deny that they are vital for human beings to live together in harmony?
What do you stand for?
Who do you want to Stand By You?
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No, I won’t be afraid
No, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
Oh, now, now, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me
Should tumble and fall
And the mountain should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
Oh, stand by me