Either way, the New Hampshire Legislature kicks off the 2021 legislative session on January 6, but not without controversy over the convening of the House of Representatives. The governor is sworn in on January 7. And on January 20, our nation will inaugurate a new president.
This season of decision-makers’ transition is both a time of hope and of deep concern for those of us who care about the common good and a just and inclusive New Hampshire (and nation) in which no one has. hungry or homeless; all workers earn enough to survive and prosper; our air, water and health are protected; and the lives of all individuals – regardless of race, ethnicity, color, age, gender identity or expression, ability or status – are valued and cherished.
In more “normal” times, we would be in force and in large numbers during these moments of elected-official transition – that is to say physically present, visible and vocal – while we defend the fundamental values ââand public policies that elevate human decency. and build healthy, safe, vibrant and economically equitable communities.
But these are not normal times. Our neighbors are sick, hospitalized and dying from a rapidly spreading and easily transmitted virus that will not take a break for political transitions. Additionally, COVID-19 has exposed the scarcity of our systems and the failures of many public officials in terms of being able to effectively meet the needs of those at risk, including the sick, their caregivers and anyone whose work is judged. essential to the community.
Because we care deeply about the health and safety of others, we have chosen not to hold massive in-person rallies at State House or in a UNH parking lot filled with lawmakers at this time. We have taken this approach not out of ideology, but rather out of a fundamental desire to protect our loved ones, our colleagues and all other members of the community, even those we do not know.
These are not normal times. The newly sworn-in speaker at New Hampshire House has died of COVID-19, and the pro-tem speaker and other anonymous lawmakers have also been infected with the coronavirus after several meetings and rallies where, despite repeated warnings from experts medical, a large number of people deliberately provoking lawmakers have gone without a mask. Not only is it tragic, but this disturbing manifestation of ruthless disregard for the health and safety of others among far too many state lawmakers also sets a deeply troubling tone for the 2021-2022 legislative session.
In this unusual time, we are choosing to honor public safety and to act and come together responsibly while making our voices heard. We also implore legislative leaders to use their own sense of civic responsibility to lead the next legislative session with the combination of citizen safety and accessibility in mind, regardless of accommodations or adjustments. necessary schedule.
We wish to remind our elected officials at all levels that we join with the majority of our New Hampshire neighbors in wanting access to secure and decent jobs paying a living wage; a clean environment and a resilient climate; freedom from discrimination, oppression and violence; and adequate shelter, healthy food and all the other necessities to live safely in New Hampshire.
We also join with the majority in understanding that access to health care is absolutely essential both during and beyond this dangerous time of COVID-19. So, at this time of electoral transitions, you may not see us filling the halls and courtrooms of the State House or at mass rallies in other places where elected officials are gathered. But that doesn’t mean our voices aren’t there. The policies and values ââwe mention here are the will of most citizens of the state, and we stand united in defending these values ââand “for the common good, protection and safety of the whole community” (as stated in Section 10 of the New Hampshire Constitution).
We also implore our elected officials to remain globally aware of our collective interdependence. We are in the same boat. And we who hold deeply to our responsibility to one another and to our common humanity, will persist.
This sentiment comes jointly from the American Friends Service Committee-NH program; Change to Concord; Economic Justice Mission Group, NH Conference, United Church of Christ; Progress of the state of granite; Kent Street Coalition; Manchester NAACP; Martin Luther King Coalition NH; NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health; NH Poor People’s Campaign: a national call for moral renewal; NH House Progressive Caucus; NH Youth Movement; NH veterans for peace; Portsmouth 2020 Women’s March Organizing Committee; Occupy the coast; Coast of the Resistance; South Church, UU, Portsmouth, Social Justice Associates; Unitarian Universalist Action New Hampshire; and Arnie Alpert and Andru Volinsky.
(Reverend Gail Kinney of Canaan is Minister of Labor Justice, Meriden Congregational Church, UCC, and a member of the New Hampshire United Church of Christ Economic Justice Mission Group. David Holt of Somersworth is an organizer for Occupy Seacoast. Anna Howard of Portsmouth is a member of the South Church UU Social Justice Associates and organizer of the Seacoast Women’s March 2020.)