Are my children safe?  Is my way of life in jeopardy?  Can I trust others to be looking out for me and my family?  Is my home protected? Is someone trying to take away my freedom?  Is someone judging me and criticizing my job, my religion, my values?   Is my voice heard, let alone, cared about? Am I scared that I might lose that which I love?

I would guess that many of you, like me, are living with a sense of fear, a foreboding that you, your loved ones, and your way of life are being threatened.  We all, all people, right-wingers, left-wingers, politically neutral, loggers, ranchers, environmentalists, parents, non-parents, faith-based, spiritual, atheist … we all need to feel safe and secure.  And if we do not, we will do whatever it takes to survive, grasping for a sense of security.

And when we feel threatened, the first thing we will do is hold on even tighter, tighter to those that are like “us.”  And it makes sense! Because being on the inside of the us-them boundary is important for a sense of safety and security:  a belief of who will protect and take care of us, and of who we will stand up for.

And yet, it is an arbitrary boundary, the me-you, us-them line.  And as the fear of our safety gets greater, this boundary line gets smaller.  And we will blame, hate, fear anyone on the outside of this shifting and arbitrary boundary.

And this hatred and fear will block our ability to think.  We will be paralyzed, and fall prey to fear-based rhetoric.  And then what? Who will be controlling our vote?

What if ... what if we took charge of our own thoughts, and recognition of our fears, and started shifting that boundary between us-them, and what if we could see that we all want and need the same freedoms, protections, and voice.  And what if rather than acting as if there is a scarcity in these constructs, we believed we could all have them. And, what if we worked together?

Vote!  Tuesday, November 6th!

Dara Newman writes from Missoula.