My involvement with local, state, national, and world politics began early. Grandparents arrived from Sweden through Ellis Island, and my Anglo-Saxon ancestors settled in northwest New Jersey lands in the 1700s. Their hopes and dreams for life in America framed many conversations. I understand that, as a very young child, I marched with my mother for the right of women to vote.

As a first year high school teacher, I (after learning that a male teacher with the similar assignment for teaching earned 20% more than I did in a year) explained to the local school district board of directors that the same salary should be offered to men and women, based on contract services, not sex. They understood and changed the district standards! I was on my way.

It has been an exciting journey. Causes have included educational opportunities for all, environmental standards that might save the planet, equal rights, tolerance and support for all races and creeds, a world without borders, wildlife protection. Progress was slow, but I believed that progress was possible.

Until now. A short list of concerns includes the following:

• Personal and financial greed govern decisions at many levels of our society.

• Money controls access to political decisions.

• Bribery and financial exchanges direct political decisions and actions.

• News reports include mistruths and inaccurate information (Remember when we went to the source of a newspaper account when we wanted to verify our other information?).

• Fire drills (to identify the nearest exit from a school) were the warning of my day. Teachers did not have to carry guns. Daily drills did not include getting under a desk to avoid atomic bomb explosion waste. Children, who have been taught that schools are safe places, did not have to learn where to hide from a gunman or other threat of violence.

• Gun violence, access to weapons, and opposition to appropriate gun control, are accepted parts of our societal structure.

• An international plan to review the planet (historically, scientifically, and socially) to create a plan for care and support lacks interest by some, is denied by others. Fortunately, the youth of the world, led by a young Swedish girl (recognized for the Nobel Peace Prize, to the dismay of our President who denies that “global warming” is an issue), provides hope for us all.

• I thought I lived in the United States, a world that honors family and children and community, yet we tolerate the separation of families, the incarceration of children, the lack of necessary physical and emotional care, and the condemnation of those seeking refuge from hunger, violence, and loss of home.

• We tolerate immorality, ridicule of women, lack of acceptance of those who may hold different views of the world.

• We accept ridicule with chants and insults toward those who dare to challenge the President’s insults or statements or lies.

And now, as I write this, we, as a nation, must be concerned that the “leader of the free world” may be leading (or tweeting) us into a worldwide conflict. America and our democracy once provided hope and opportunity for those seeking acceptance and freedom. Laws and guidelines (remember the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence??) provided opportunity for growth and interactions that offered a glimpse of a world of peace and acceptance and freedom for all.

The time for all of us to be involved is right now – 2020 – the new decade.

We have the right and the opportunity and the obligation to choose what is right. So far, we do not have to march for the right to be a part of the decision making process. But we must participate. We must be heard. We must be informed and fair. We cannot be silent to the wrongs we witness in the world. We must learn and study and become informed. We must practice tolerance and thoughtful caring.

WE MUST VOTE. We must become the America, the shining star, that we imagine ourselves to be.

Dorothea Farris

Crystal Valley, Carbondale