Yesterday, I took my daughters to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. While there, we visited an exhibit called “Beyond Spaceship Earth,” about the International Space Station. As the girls wandered through the display, looking at vacuum packed food and tooth brushes “that have actually been in actual space!” I turned a corner, and squealed. Sitting in front of me was the Liberty Bell 7, the craft that held Gus Grissom as he became the second man to ever go up into space. The second human being to break gravity, and pilot a black sky.


The American space program has always fascinated and inspired me. When I was eleven, my mother, aunt, cousin, and I traveled to Washington D.C. My mom had to meet with Congressmen to discuss funding for the Michigan Primary Care Association, and while she was trapped in committee meetings all week, my Aunt Cyndi took my cousin and me around the city. We walked around all of the monuments, stopped in as many Smithsonian museums as we possibly could, ate hot dogs out of street vendor’s carts, rode in taxis for the first time, yet there was just one place my cousin and I wanted to go back to, again and again. The Air and Space Museum. Still, to this day, it is the gold standard for museums as far as I am concerned. Because it doesn’t just capture the awe, the elation, the victory of man’s pursuit of flight. But also the fear. The uncertainty. The terror. The failing.

The Air and Space Museum was also the first place where I heard John F. Kennedy say those immortal words, “We do these things . . . not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” I heard those words again yesterday at the Children’s Museum. I felt that swell of pride again. That hardening of spirit. That grim determinedness. That feeling, not of success, but of attempt. Of trying. For something bigger. Something grander. Something more important than the self.

And I cried.

When Kennedy spoke about America’s plans to enter and accelerate the space race, he used Sir George Mallory’s (failed) expedition to Mount Everest as an example. Mallory (who would die on the mountain), when asked why he wanted to climb Everest, simply replied, “Because it’s there.”

There is a mountain before us, dear readers.

A mountain of hate.

A mountain of intolerance.

A mountain of fear.

A mountain of desperate myopia and misguided self-preservation.

A mountain of isolationism.

And it’s there.

It is not space. It is not black sky. It is not a snow covered peak. And because it is not all of these things, it can feel overwhelming. Because it is not easily defined by things such as elevation, atmospheric density, gravity, or GPS coordinates, it feels insurmountable. It feels terrifying. Its very indefinability makes it feel impossibly large. Impossibly powerful. Impossibly invisible.

But it’s there. Trust me.

And we can summit it.

It’s hard. It’s been hard, I know. But I’m begging you: Continue to resist. Continue to speak. Continue to fight. Continue to uphold the ideals of humanity, of empathy, of what is right. Because that is what we are. Right. We are right. We who see value in every human, in the flawed, messy, horrible shit show that is modern existence? We are right. We are correct. I know it as surely as I know the Sun will rise. (And the Sun will rise. And so can we.)

Though, of course, knowing that we are right, that history will recognize our collective fight against this current administration as the correct, the true, the just path, that doesn’t make the fight any easier. Like Kennedy said, these things are hard. They are terrifying. They make us afraid, because they should make us afraid. This stuff is scary. And I’ve been afraid. I’ve been afraid every single day for months now.

But the thought of doing nothing has made me more afraid.

We will not break. They think we will, because they think we are already broken.

But we are not.

We are not broken.

Transgender friends, you are not broken.

Women, you are not broken.

LGBTQI friends, you are not broken.

Friends of color, you are not broken.

Friends of different nations, you are not broken.

Friends of all religions, you are not broken.

Ill and disabled friends, you are not broken.

Elderly and infirm friends, you are not broken.

Academic friends, you are not broken.

Suffering friends, you are not broken.

You are not a problem to be “fixed.”

You are not a burden.

No human is a burden.

Say it again.

No. Human. Is. A. Burden.

You are not a cross that some mythic “rest of us” are forced to bear. You are not a deviation from “normal.” You belong.

We are not broken.

And they cannot break us.

It feels like we are outnumbered. It feels like we are out-financed. Out-powered. Out-shouted. Every day. It feels like a terrifying time to be alive. It feels like it would be easier, nicer, cleaner, quieter, to just hunker down, plug my ears to the maddening crowd, and sail through these next few years, hoping for the best. It would be an easy thing to do, given my economic and racial privilege. Easy to just wish it all away.

But I’m not going to do what’s easy.

I’m going to fight.

Because it’s hard.

I’m going to continue to speak here. I’m going to continue to attend meetings and rallies. I’m going to continue to wear symbols of resistance. And I’m going to try to overcome my fears and speak when I see the mountain rise up before me. The frightening, horrifying, invisible mountain that grows without warning, from all corners of my quiet Midwestern life. The mountain hurled my way by a flippant comment from an elderly man at the grocery store. The mountain suddenly dividing me and a friend. The mountain between my family and our physicians. It is terrifying to face the mountain. Even harder to climb it. But being slowly crushed by its weight is surely worse. Hearing the muffled screams of those already suffocating under its mass is surely more impossibly nightmarish than continuing to sleep quietly in my own protected valley. Surely.

I have to overcome my fears. I have to start speaking louder. I have to join those already climbing the mountain. I have to be ready with oxygen for those trying to escape the atmosphere. I have to. We have to.

Not because it’s easy.

But because it is hard.