2014: A Year for Resolve Not Resolutions

By Michelle E. Brown
Originally printed 1/9/2014 (Issue 2202 - Between The Lines News)

I don't believe in New Years' resolutions. They seem to be empty promises destined to be broken. We break the promises we make to ourselves. Others break promises they make to themselves and others. Then twelve months later we do it all over again, making promises but unfortunately taking little action to deliver on our resolutions.

Now I do believe in resolve (and I'm not talking about the carpet cleaner although I do keep it on hand for cat accidents).

The words - resolve and resolution - come from the same root. The difference is, where the noun resolution is all about the expression of intentions, the verb, resolve, is about getting it done, dogged determination, "doin the damn thing" - action.

I am of the generation that believes in change, that we as a community could be better than the generations before us and evolve to leave a world for our children and generations to come.

We/my generation didn't come up with this notion of "a more perfect union," we just took the words of the "founding fathers," (their resolution) expressed in the Constitution as truth and resolved to speak that truth to power.

We stood on the shoulders of those who had come before us - abolitionists, suffragettes, civil and gay rights leaders all striving for that more perfect union - the dream, the promise, the resolution for full equality not just for every American, but as a shining example for the world.

There have been advances and setbacks over the years but never have we felt closer to attaining this goal than in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama. We were talking about, really talking about hope and change. And it wasn't just American optimism or naivete, the world deemed the election significant.

All that hope, all that promise, but like many resolutions at the beginning of a year (or four years in political life), our resolve sometimes wanes.

By the 2010 midterm elections the resolve of our opponents to regain control and impede the progress of change outweighed ours and we lost critical ground in the states and in the House of Representatives. Republican governors and legislators stripped workers rights, attacked women's rights for choice and rolled back social safety nets increasing the ranks of the poor putting children and families at risk.

We stumbled, got up, kept moving and in 2012 got another chance to make our bold, progressive resolutions for another political season.

We watched how things shook out in 2013. There was lot's of good news for the LGBT community in the courts and states. More couples have gained the right to marry. Municipalities have affirmed the rights of LGBT residents to equal protections.

The doors to our closet of second class citizenship are falling off. The key is what we have known all along - that when we are out, when people know our lives - the walls of hatred and bigotry come tumbling down. Our resolve, our determination did this!

And now as we prepare for the 2014 midterm elections, politicians are vying for our votes, talking about marriage equality, ENDA and their support for LGBT issues.

Of course we thank, appreciate and support those that have stood behind us but is that enough? Can we look at the 2014 elections only from a gay perspective?

Unfortunately, but fortunately, we don't live in a gay bubble. We are a part of the greater community - neighbors, coworkers, teachers, students.

Having that greater community acknowledge our rights, comes with the responsibility for members of the LGBT community to raise our voices to, in effect, out ourselves politically as being members of a thinking electorate.

Unemployment - that's our issue! Education - that's our issue! Healthcare, Women's rights, child poverty, housing, income inequality - it doesn't have to be queer to be our issue. We live at the intersection of all these issues and more than anyone, we know that no one is free when others are oppressed.

2014 must be a year for resolve not just resolutions. It's time to take being out to the next level - when we hold our elected officials accountable not just to our LGBT families but to our neighbors living at or below poverty; when we demand passage of a fully inclusive ENDA and extension of unemployment benefits; when we ask for anti-bullying legislation for LGBT youth and strengthened gun legislation.

So I'll pass on the resolutions to lose ten pounds, exercise regularly, and all those other things that will probably fall by the wayside and instead join with those resolved to be the change we want to see.

Michelle E. Brown is a Public Speaker, Activist and Author. Follow her at http://www.mychangeiam.com and http://www.twitter.com/mychangeiam

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