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Michelle's Musings

We, the People

How on earth have we gotten to the point where a select demographic of parents who are uncomfortable with our Nation's history can dictate what all students should learn? Some of the very same folks who decry "cancel culture" are attempting to prevent children from learning the truth about the founding of our country. What about other parents who want their ancestors' contribution fairly represented? They're not exactly "comfortable" with that history; yet it's as if the opinions and rights of those "other" parents don't matter—as though they aren't real Americans.

 

In recent years, we've seen the return of an authoritarian, fascist slogan promoting the free press as "the enemy of the [American] people" on our national stage, a mantra notoriously promulgated by Joseph Stalin during the early years of the Soviet Union. While the slogan may have originated during Roman Times, it reappeared during the French Revolution of the late 18th century, and then resurfaced during the Third Reich's rule in furtherance of Adolph Hitler's decree that Jews were "a sworn enemy of the German people." It's a phrase favored by those who sought to squash freedom of expression in the form of opposition and dissent.

 

With the banning of books from our schools and libraries and the suppression of American history in classrooms, we are witnessing an organized, widespread effort to silence voices. Likewise, our politicians who oppose dissent of their constituents' agenda are in a rush to disenfranchise voters with gerrymandering in certain voter districts. While we still maintain the freedom to express our opinions, there's no guarantee that privilege will endure. Even if you subscribe to conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of our last presidential election or a widespread attempt to brainwash the nation's children, your freedom of thought is at stake. As a writer and citizen, I find that prospect a horrifying existential threat to our democracy for which so many have given their lives.

 

We, the People, must speak out against those who would try to silence our voices in furtherance of political expediency and power. We must use our vote as our voice to ensure the preservation of our democracy. If democracy wasn't so precious, tens of thousands of Ukrainians would not give their lives in its defense.

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The Sound of Music

We've all seen images of children clutching stuffed animals to distract them from the horrors of Putin's war on Ukraine. We've also observed glimmers of positivity amid the horrific destruction and loss of life that plays out on our television screens. In these heartrending, tumultuous times, artists share their talents in a surreal juxtaposition of entertainment with devastation. Pianist Davide Martello traveled 17 straight hours from Germany to the Polish-Ukrainian border with his piano in tow to play music for displaced refugees. Images of his instrument of peace being wheeled along war-torn streets imbued a dystopian backdrop with a modicum of promise. Another pianist performed Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" with grace and poise outside a Ukrainian train station, infusing a sense of light and optimism into a dark and desperate situation.

 

Generous acts of kindness remind us of the benevolent humanity that still exists in this world in spite of widespread divisiveness and tribalism. While the stressed-out, grief-stricken throngs of escapees milling about these performers don't necessarily stop to enjoy the show, I suspect this music, in stark contrast with the shelling and explosions with which they've had to contend, provides a temporary bit of respite.

 

A fire of determination burns in the eyes of these courageous citizens who stand united in their fight for democracy and the future of their homeland. Likewise, the glimpse of humanity with which writers endear their characters leads readers to become vested in seeing protagonists overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. While the conflict's somber narrative plays out on the world stage, we hold our collective breaths in cautious optimism and root for the welfare of victims of this senseless war. Hopefully, our heartfelt sentiments are music to their weary ears.

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