Editorial: The Future Is Watching Us

October 10, 2019

We are in a time like no other, and we must stand up and show up.

FutureWatching_fa.jpgAt our Presidential Issues Forum held in New York City in September, Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Open Societies Foundation and former 1199 Political Director, charged us with taking bold action.

1199’s strength and mobilizing ability is unmatched, said Gaspard, but we are in a time in history that demands we find another gear in our power to organize and make change.

“The history books cannot reflect that the worst president in our lifetimes was able to survive with these anti-worker policies and policies of hate,” Gaspard asserted.

Just a few days later, 1199ers were among the millions of people around the world who poured into the streets, marching against the powers, corporations, and governments that are driving climate change.

Hundreds of 1199ers and their families from across the Union carried the message of a public health crisis and the reminder that climate change devastation is already upon us. (We need only look at the damage wrought by hurricanes Maria and Dorian and Superstorm Sandy.)

“My cousin and her family were forced to uproot their lives and move to Florida after the devastation caused by [Hurricane Maria],” said Jose Gonzalez, a patient billing liaison at Mount Sinai-Union Square in Manhattan. “We have seen the effects of climate change. It’s the most important issue of our lifetimes.”

As you read this, life-giving forests in the Amazon and Indonesia are burning. Unprecedented wildfires have ravaged the Arctic, Russia, Canada, and Greenland. The U.S. government is rolling back long-standing environmental protections even as communities across the country are struggling with the health impacts of poisoned water and soil. And billionaires are propagating an alternate reality of climate change in countries where they do business.

All this is to say that we are at a tipping point. We must work in coalition with our sisters and brothers on the front lines of other progressive struggles. We must participate in the upcoming U.S. Census to combat the damaging misinformation that has denied our communities valuable resources. We must fight to restore respect for facts, science, and logic. And, perhaps most important, we must register and vote. In short, we must stand up and show up.

1199 Magazine: September / October 2019