I hopped on my bike today and headed to the Capitol. I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks, and this was the first chance I got to go where the action is. It was a way I could at least show that I care about what it happening. And I do. It breaks my heart.
I must admit, politics annoy me. There are many things important to me. Both parties represent some of that. And both parties represent things I am absolutely not in favor of. What really frustrates me is that the two parties are so polarized that they end up being more about the politics than the people.
Today as I approached the capitol I was quietly observing; praying, really. I looked at the faces – real people simply trying to put food on the table, do a good job, keep their lives heading in a good direction. I didn’t really sense anger. I saw spirited people coming together around something that really matters to them: Freedom. Thousands of people around one cause: the right to negotiate. It was exhilarating to sense the unity.
I actually found myself wanting to tell teachers they were great! They work so hard for little pay. Their jobs have gotten more difficult in the last decade. I’m so grateful for them. I wanted to let nurses know how much I admire their thankless service. In my humble opinion most public servants are very dedicated, over-worked, and underpaid. I feel for them, with them. I told a police officer “thank you for serving.” Kinda cheesy, I know.
Some of the signs cracked me up. That’s Madison for you – a festive uprising. People were actually having some fun with their chants, driving their mini-floats with signs, walking on stilts. But there were also signs that made me sad. A young girl, maybe 10, was carrying a sign that spoke of hate. Somehow personifying Walker as the evil one gave me pause. He seems unwise to me, yes. But motives are difficult to judge.
Overall, it struck me how blessed we are in this country to have the freedom to demonstrate, to cheer, to speak up, to join forces. That freedom is so often taken for granted, until a time like this. When what feels like a power play, an action without listening, a direction with no compromise, is thrust upon us it jars us. We don’t expect such boldness in the midst of an uprising. We expect to be listened to. We expect some justification, an explanation of why. In America this feels so wrong.
The divide in our community is gaping. The governor’s actions have created some huge divides: public worker against private, and furthering the liberal from conservative divide. I’ve heard of friends or family not talking. It breaks my heart to see the city I love torn apart.
But, mostly I am proud of my city. I hope and pray that at the end of the day Madison is a better place because of what is happening now. Perhaps we will care more for those without any health insurance. Maybe we will wake up to those who had no rights before the Budget Repair Bill. Maybe we will recognize that we can rally around an important issue and make a difference.
And perhaps when we find ourselves convinced we are right, ready to forge ahead, we will listen better to those around us, so that when we do take a stand it is from a place of understanding.