My name is Mary Kohen and I’m a pro-medical-marijuana candidate.
There, I wrote it and it feels great. Here’s what will feel even better: let’s consider the immediate advantages effective medical marijuana laws can have in Indiana!
“What solidarity there historically was for protesting women, then, was based in homemaking and child-rearing…In Virginia, during the Civil War, it was meat the women were after, eventually stealing 500 pounds of bacon. In Russia, during WWI, it was a shortage of sugar that set off a riot. Through time, and across the world though, it’s often the women who lead the charge: in Nigeria in the 1920s, it was the potential taxation of the market women that sparked a heroic-and successful-revolt against the colonial authorities…” - from an article in The Nation by Michelle Dean.
We mothers are a force to be reckoned with in many ways. Having attended marches, rallies and meetings, it has become crystal clear to me that a growing number of mothers are, and have been, a catalyst for positive change in the world. (Please note: I am not dismissing the contribution of wonderful fathers or those women who are, for one reason or another, childless.)
I recently joined Mothers Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group founded the day after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. Moms Demand Action was founded by one mother (Shannon Watts of Indianapolis) and began as a grassroots FB group which has grown into an organization of 200,000+ members. They lobby the government for sensible gun reform and have begun to see progress.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving was formed in 1980 by a woman whose 13 year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver. MADD, a powerful organization who lobbies state and local governments to reduce drunk driving deaths through legislation, are credited for laws lowering the blood alcohol limit and promoting Victim Impact Statements.
One of the most impassioned and devoted mother’s groups is the Madres de Plaza del Mayo of Argentina. In 1977, 14 mothers, wearing white head scarves, began marching weekly in the Plaza de Mayo in front of the presidential palace (their final march was held in 2006). These women marched to protest the Argentinian military who were eventually implicated in the torture and murder of thousands (their children among them). Many of their victims just “disappeared” and were never heard from again. It is these “Mothers of the Disappeared” marching for all those years (some now in their 80’s) who demanded action had their voices heard: 1,000 of the accused have been brought to trial and 700 sentenced.
Each of these movements, which began from a place of grief and anger, were started by moms. Moms who started small and grew into groups that brought about real change. Moms who were dedicated and refused to give up. Moms who were a force to be reckoned with. Moms who demanded, and received, action.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that we as a nation seem to be more divided as ever, whether it is issues of Immigration, National Security, Religion, Gun Reform, etc., it feels as though we are incapable of having meaningful conversations with those who may disagree with us. We seem to have divided into tribes and when it comes to those meaningful conversations, we exist in an echo chamber. How can we reach across this divide and begin to rid ourselves of the “us vs. them” mentality? A recent conversation with my sister in Louisiana gave me glimpse into how this might be achieved:
My sister has a neighbor who recently moved in next door. Since they moved in, a few things about the new neighbors have made her increasingly annoyed; among them was a yappy dog and a security light that shines into her bedroom window at night. One day, looking into her backyard, she saw a young boy dangling over her fence, trying to get the attention of one of her dogs. That was the last straw; my sister decided to go right over and air her grievances to the new neighbors.
She called me the next day and embarrassingly related that she discovered her neighbor was a single mom of a fourteen-year-old daughter and had no idea her daughter was leaving the dog out all day. When my sister told her about the security light, she immediately got a stepladder and adjusted the light in another direction. Lastly, my sister found out the young boy leaning over the fence was the son of another neighbor who happened to be visiting. The new neighbor and my sister ended up chatting for a good while and discovered they had things in common and that they were both transplants to the South from the Midwest.
Had my sister never gone over to talk to the neighbor and begun a dialogue, there could have been resentment and a stony silence between them which could have lasted for years. All it took was one short conversation to discover commonalities and bridge a divide. Maybe a bit of the rancor felt between people of differing points of views could be lessened if we took the time to find ways we are alike and discover things we have in common.
This mindset could be adopted by those who represent us politically as well. As State Representative, I will make a point to always “reach over the fence” and have those difficult conversations. I will listen to the concerns of constituents who may have differing views from my own. In addition, to reach across the aisle at the Statehouse and work with members of the other party is vital to good governance as well.
A sitting State Representative I know told me to never forget that I will be representing all the citizens of my district and that every one of their voices deserves to be heard. How much better could our nation be if we were all to “reach over the fence” in some small way?
I had planned to use my first blog entry to explain the various reasons why I decided to enter the race for State Representative and serve the citizens of District 59 and why I hope to be worthy of your support.
And then, a few days ago, we had yet another school shooting, this time in a high school in Parkland, Florida. This mass shooting is the latest in what seems to be an endless stream of mass shootings here in the United States. The fact that it took place in a school, a place where our children go to learn and should feel safe, makes it even more heartbreaking. I cannot begin to imagine how these parents and families who lost their loved ones must feel. Each and every time one of these shootings occur, we find ourselves asking, what can we do?
What can one person do? I have reposted statistics, charts, memes, videos, etc. regarding gun violence on FB and Twitter. I have joined/donated to the various groups such as Moms Demand Action and Anytown USA who have long advocated for sensible and effective gun regulation. We can protest in the streets, we can organize and participate in rallies, we can write letters to the editor, we can vent to friends and family.
But the one thing that very definitely needs to be done is one that I have not done nearly enough: contacting my national, state and local legislators to let them know how incredibly wrong it is that these shootings are happening again and again. I can ask why regulations currently in place are not being enforced and ask for an explanation as to why important regulations previously in place are being rolled back. I can let them know that I am disgusted by the amount of money some politicians are receiving from the NRA; so much money that they have no problem turning a blind eye and not addressing what to do about gun violence. And let me add here: I am not advocating taking all guns away. I do understand that we have the 2nd Amendment in place and I myself grew up in a household with a father who hunted and enjoyed going out target shooting with him in the deserts of Arizona. But even proponents of the 2nd Amendment, those who use guns for hunting and target shooting and those who may own a gun for personal protection must agree that this issue needs to be addressed.
We can protest, we can support groups who call for sensible gun regulations, and we can call and write our legislators. Most importantly, however, we can vote. When we enter that ballot box, it is there where we have the real power to say enough is enough.