I thought long and hard about how to write about my feelings and concerns. Then I read this post by PZ Myers over at Pharyngula. He expressed my thoughts much more eloquently than I could have -- and also more forcefully than I would have, and I can find no fault in that. I recommend reading the entire post but here's an excerpt:
An unjustified, futile war…doesn’t matter. Abu Ghraib…doesn’t matter. Tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians…don’t matter. Prisoners tortured and held without trial at Guantanamo Bay…doesn’t matter. Throwing away two centuries worth of the world’s respect for our enlightened principles…doesn’t matter. A president who laughs at executions and mocks the sacrifices of our soldiers…doesn’t matter. The Democratic candidated dared to say that our reputation in the community of nations mattered, and the arrogant bully won.
As I said yesterday, it's not the time to despair and mope. It's time to put your foot down and do something. My first step was to sign the pro-choice petition. If you are pro-choice, and you have a moment, please consider signing the Freedom of Choice Act Petition and/or sending an email to George W. Bush telling him that you will stand up against a reversal of Roe v. Wade. I have to tell you that I was scared both times. Who says that I won't be denied my green card extension for speaking my mind? But if I give in to fear, how will I explain this to my children? Let me tell you something about my family. I had two grandfathers, like most of us. One grandfather got actively involved with Hitler's regime -- he was a Gauleiter, and he wore the uniform of the Wehrmacht proudly. He thought Germany had a right to invade other countries because they used to belong to Germany, once. I remember him as a kindly old man who taught me the names of the stars and which mushrooms are edible. I loved him very much. My other grandfather was 10 years older, had been in World War I, and was a reserve officer of the German Air Force. He put his foot down in the Air Force headquarters in Berlin one day, urging his fellow officers to stand up against Hitler because he was "crazy and would ruin us all". He was reported and his arrest and execution was scheduled for the next day. He was warned by a friend and could escape, and spent the next two years in hiding. I never met him - he died when my mother was 13. I'm sorry that I never had the chance to tell him that I'm very proud of him. One day, I will tell Alan and David about their great-grandfathers, and about how important it is to recognize wrong and do right. That right is not always what the government says it is. That good people and good countries can do terrible things sometimes, and that those terrible things are no less terrible than the terrible things that terrible people do. My next step was to send a long letter to my US-American family -- about half of whom have voted for Bush -- and explained where I stood. This is probably going to cause some heated discussion but I felt it was necessary. Last, not least, I've changed my icon. The smiley face seemed horribly inappropriate for all these serious posts; not that I have stopped smiling or anything. But it was time for a change anyhow. I opted for the ginkgo leaf as my new symbol. Ginkgos were once almost extinct, today they populate cities and parks all over the planet. They all have their ancestors on a small chain of hills in China. They needed help, though. They are very, very old and the little dinosaur that probably helped to spread its seeds is long extinct. Without human help, ginkgos cannot survive. There's a lesson in this: It's never too late to change the course of things. But it needs some help.