For a number of years, nurses have marched on DC to call for changes in nursing and healthcare that the conditions under which nurses care for patients. This year the specific issue is safe nurse:patient ratios, calling for passage of bills that are already in both the House and the Senate that set national standards for nurse:patient ratios. This event promises to be an invigorating event with inspiring speakers and the opportunity to be part of a strong, non-partisan event focusing on issues of great concern for all nurses. The march also coincides with the following week designated as “nurses week” – a U.S. tradition highlighting tokenism at its best (full disclosure – my personal opinion!). The march has the potential to energize nurses across the country to bring the activism home, and during nurses week take local action calling for safe ratios at home – in place of roses!
As the efforts to roll back the U.S. Affordable Care Act has progressed, what has emerged even further is the resistance from “we the people” – resistance that has, in no uncertain terms, changed the conversation. So even though we hear, every day, another jaw-dropping bit of news that threatens democracy world-wide, it is vitally important that we shift our gaze and energy to continuing whatever actions we can do to sustain our public voices. As Bernie Sanders stated in a recent interview with The Guardian –
“This is what they [the people] should do,” he says, pumping out the Bern. “They should take a deep reflection about the history of this country, understand that absolutely these are very difficult and frightening times. But also understand that in moments of crisis, what has happened, time and time again, is that people have stood up and fought back. So despair is absolutely not an option.”” (source)
Our “Declaration of Solidarity and Resistance” continues to draw supporters – not only from nurses but from many others who join us in declaring the values that motivate our actions – actions that are not only important as acts of resistance to the current political trends to damage health and well-being, but actions to affirmatively promote and protect health and well-being for those we serve. Our Declaration informs our deep reflection – reflection on the historical stand that nurses have taken for decades, and reflection on the political courage to step forward to act – to resist, and to build a future based on these values!
We welcome your stories, photos, videos – anything that you can share that shows what you are doing! If you are sending a postcard to the White House on March 15th, send us a photo of your card! If you are attending a rally, send us a photo or a video! Write about your reflections, and ways that you are shifting away from despair! We want to hear from YOU!
We recently received a message from Suzanne Fontanesi in Baltimore, sharing a letter she is sending to her Senator asking them to shadow a nurse to inform their health care debate by seeing reality up close and personal. She has given us permission to post the letter here so that other nurses can follow through with their senators as well!
Dear Senator _______,
I am a nurse writing to you on behalf of tens of thousands of my fellow nurses, who are deeply concerned about the possibility of Americans losing health care coverage. Before the Senate votes to repeal and/or replace of the Affordable Care Act, Congress members should be very clear eyed about who will be impacted, and how that impact will shape lives.
Nurses are ranked as the most trusted professionals in the nation. Members of Congress are ranked among the least trusted. In the eyes of the American public, nurses have distinguished themselves as moral, responsible and compassionate professionals. One important practice among nurses is that of ”shadowing”. Before committing to a workplace, a nurse spends time observing at close hand, the minute to minute reality of the people they will be serving.
Senators have great responsibility and many demands on their time, which function to keep them at a distance from many of the realities of daily life for the average American, not to mention the most vulnerable.
On behalf of the American people, I am inviting every United States Senator to spend a full work day shadowing a nurse, prior to voting on the repeal of the ACA. I ask them to observe a full work day, not as honored guests, but as quiet and anonymous observers in settings where nurses are caring for vulnerable Americans. Go with an open mind and ask questions.
I am requesting that you pause and take in the reality with your own eyes, ears and noses. Then, you may more legitimately resume the debate that will shape the lives of the most vulnerable millions of Americans. Regardless of party affiliation or political ideology, each Senator will bring relevant, firsthand information to the conversation.
Among 100 Senators, you will have collectively taken in the reality at schools, nursing homes, hospital emergency rooms, community mental health clinics, churches, drug treatment centers, and homeless shelters. Only then can you look us in the eyes and say that you understand our lives.
Please share this request with your fellow Senators. I will be happy to facilitate a shadow day for you or any of your colleagues.
Thank you for your consideration,
Your contact information
There is an organic, world-wide movement afoot to participate in a massive show of resistance to the new U.S. President – write a simple postcard with your message of resistance and mail it on March 15th. This is an opportunity for those of us who are nurses to join in sending messages affirming our support for world-wide health and opposing all that threatens health of the earth, and all that inhabit the earth. Check out the source I refer to below (The Daily Kos) below for details! Here is the basic information about what to do to participate:
It has been one week since we posted the Nurses Declaration of Solidarity and Resistance, and today we registered 833 signatories, and still counting! But what matters is that nurses are not only signing this Declaration, but we are acting in our communities all over the world to put the values of this Declaration into action. We have heard from many nurses directly who have said “I have never taken this kind of action before, but now I am doing it.”
Of course not all nurses share the commitment that we have put forward, and we respect any challenge or difference of opinion. The fact remains that there are hundreds of nurses who, like growing numbers of our colleagues and neighbors, continue to be alarmed by the actions of the new administration. The book “Don’t Think of an Elephant” by George Lakoff has helped me to understand the perspectives that different people have concerning what is happening in our nation and the world. Recently a friend heard Professor Lakoff speak of central guidelines for resistance – ways to avoid inadvertently helping the new administration, ways to resist, and ways to promote the values that stand on the side of health and justice. These guidelines can be applied not only to public action, but to our own language and thinking about the situation we are in:
1. Don’t use the name of the new President, and do not repeat his tweets.
2. Remember this is a regime and he’s not acting alone;
3. Do not argue with those who support him–it doesn’t work;
4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk
7. Support artists and the arts
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it.
9. Take care of yourselves; and
If you have not found your way yet to a place and time to take specific political action.in your community, go to the Indivisible Guide website – and start by searching for groups in or near your zip code. Read the guide, talk with your friends, explore existing groups or form one of your own.
When you get involved in a group, let everyone know that you are a nurse, and that you are speaking up based on the values that nurses hold dear! Together we can make a difference! And let us know here! Add your comment to our blog any time to share what you are doing, because your action inspires all of us to act in our own ways and times!