The news is still reverberating from San Antonio where 50 migrants — men, women and children — were steamed to death in the back of a sealed semi. Where do I find an appropriate response to such a grim horror?
I’m shocked into paralysis by watching the leaked draft of “Justice” Clarence Thomas become the established law of the land. It isn’t “just abortion,” although that would be more than enough. It’s women’s rights, human rights, our rights. What should I do about this?
I was stumped when I heard the testimony of two women before the Congressional committee — Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a veteran election worker from Georgia, and Cassidy Hutchinson, late of the Trump White House.
Ms. Moss told us all that “I did my job, as I’ve always done my job.” For doing her job, Ms. Moss was targeted by Trump’s bad joke, Rudy Giuliani, who offered up lies and threats, and publicized the names of Ms. Moss and her mother. Mobs camped out on her mother’s yard, chanting threats and racist taunts. The sleazy cowards even invaded the home of her grandmother. I shivered when the Committee showed video testimony from Ms. Moss’s mother who asked plainly, “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?”
I wondered how I could support her, what I should do to help?
It happened again when Cassidy Hutchinson sat calmly before the Committee and the nation, outlining in bruising detail what she heard and saw of Donald Trump as the Capitol was assaulted on January 6. She noted his readiness to lead the mob calling for a noose on his vice president’s neck. She named the names of reptilian men who wanted a presidential pardon despite claims that they’d done nothing wrong. She substantiated his childish temper tantrums, throwing his lunch when he didn’t get his way. In two hours of testimony, as one observer noted, Ms. Hutchinson did an admirable job of reading the ketchup on the wall.
And me? I wondered how, observing Ms. Hutchinson’s courage — at age 25! — I could make a difference. What should I do?
When facing imponderable questions it’s been my habit to seek guidance from heroes like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu who suffered deeply and led brilliantly. If I could ask Dr. Martin Luther King what I should do, I think I know his response: “Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in.” But how do I do that? What actions do I take?
Or, I might look toward survivors of Buchenwald, including Viktor Frankl whose father, mother and pregnant wife were tortured to death in that camp. One year after his release he wrote the inspiring Man’s Search for Meaning. “If I am not for myself,” he wrote, “who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?” I agree, but what does that mean I should do?
Gradually, I’m beginning to sense what I, Mary Fisher, need to do.
I need to hear Frankl’s middle sentence: “If I am not for others, what am I?” If I do not live for The Other, then “what am I?” Right — I need to stop worrying about me and focus as much as I can on the needs of others. It isn’t necessarily heroic to feed the hungry or gift a politician with integrity. But it’s right. It’s about The Other — now. It’s what I ought to do.
And Ms. Moss is the right model. I should “just do my job” as a citizen of the nation. I should oppose those who cheat on election maps and lie under oath, and be equally ready to contribute to those with courage and honor. I should care deeply about the adolescent mother who is denied an abortion by circumstance, economics and law. I should remember 50 immigrants who may have loved America so much they died for it. And I should note that the first responsibility of every citizen is to vote. My job? Vote!
Especially in these days, I should be a truth teller, unintimidated by Trumpian forces of evil. Justices may lie under oath to win appointment to the Court; it’s wrong. Would-be dictators may try to grab the wheel; they’re wrong. In public and in private, I need to tell the truth. Be a witness to Frankl’s courage. Stand boldly in the tradition of Mandela, Tutu and King. Don’t flinch when evil celebrates an occasional win; come back the next day bringing with you the good truth.
If I can do this, I’ll look to my right and see Shaye Moss doing her job. To my left will be public servant Cassidy Hutchinson, doing her job. I may not always know what to do next, but I know this would put me in very good company.