While Democracy Dies Elsewhere I Want to Live Here, Where it Lives

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There is something that happens to me when I close my eyes, see nothing but darkness and open up my ears and listen to the sound of the waves crashing to shore. I hear the heartbeat of my childhood dreams. I feel the energy and drive to want to change the world. Flashing images of myself as a young girl running back and forth from home and to the beach come to mind. Memories of my favorite political event come flashing. When the President of the Dominican Republic would drive by the house and stop to say hello, that was my favorite event for years. Wow, that was huge, I remember thinking.

Elections were a big deal and still are in our family. Most of my family members are keenly aware of the lasting impact of legislation. Growing up, I would hear that to engage in elections is to preserve our democracy. Family members would vote in the United States and then fly to the Dominican Republic from New York to vote no matter the cost. Incredible drive and awareness of the process. It felt as though the unity within the family and the community was unbreakable, and the desire to maintain freedoms and democracy upfront was more critical.

Now, I have to work harder to keep my eyes closed and silence the noise to reconnect to my childhood dreams. I am thankful I have already accomplished many. I am encouraged that when I put dreams to the test, I am pleasantly surprised. There are times when I am also hopeful and joyful of the youthful energy and drive for the change from young people fight for democracy.

However, when I open my eyes again, engage, and want to help change the world as I once did, I become dangerously close to slipping into a different kind of darkness. You may be familiar with this dark space, it is where people are laser-focused on attacking each other, and there is so much confusion you are not quite sure how to help or what the heck is going on. The manipulation of emotions, the third grade level of emotional intelligence, is evident, and why would it not be as only one person wins, right?

There is so much that needs to come to light. The real motives behind political decisions, inclusion pretending tours and lacking substance, Politicians in every space with mental illness ignored, pay-offs and corruption, and the "Me First" syndromes—the pinning of Black people against Brown, the silence behind redistricting; we are drinking the Kool-aid. We keep the "Divide and Conquer" method alive and well, not working hard enough to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. It's exhausting to watch and even more exhausting to engage.

Mimi Rocah would also say, "I want to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason," a saying from her mentor. While democracy dies elsewhere, this may be where democracy can live and for sure where I want to live. I will close my eyes for a moment recenter myself think about all the people who want to do the right thing for the right reasons and attract them.

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