Most of the articles in LAHR’s newsletter this month are not calls to fight but calls to rest. And yes, we all deserve a breather. But my request of you is that you come out of your respite and into 2017 swinging.

I was taught through a story about Xenophon, a soldier and student of Socrates in ancient Greece, that to force yourself to be an active participant in a radical change you have to find your cliff. In the story, a huge army was pursuing Xenophon and in a strategic decision he chose to march his army to a spot where they would be backed up to a cliff. His soldiers, afraid and confused, questioned this choice but Xenophon assured them that the approaching army would know them to be formidable because they now had no choice but to fight to the death.

The LGBTQ communities don’t have to look far to find our cliffs, our reasons to pour heart and energy into winning equality and fairness in our state, because our cliffs are our lives as is.

But the LGBTQ communities aren’t alone in knowing too well the severity of the alternative to winning. Women, people of color, immigrants, the poor… We all know that the product of not fighting is continued suffering. We feel tangibly and desperately that our choice is made by not having a choice. Losing endangers the stability of our lives and the lives of generations after us. What we may not be able to see through our sweat and struggle is that we are all on the same side fighting for different manifestations of the same thing – to be respected and known as equal and valuable human beings on this planet, and in this country.

Being on the same side doesn’t mean that we feign an ignorance of our dif ferences, but rather that we recognize how those differences are being used to arrange us into a false hierarchy and to exploit our need for salvation from our struggles. Being on the same side requires that we embrace our interconnectedness toward building a solidarity that can shift the times and move those in power to act. Being on the same side means helping to define the cliff for those who oppress others.

We have no choice but to fight for our lives. Want justice? Want peace? Take all the breaths you need, and then let’s get back to work.

Emily Dievendorf, President
Lansing Association for Human Rights