The Commonality of Our Pains

I am running for Congress for one reason above all, I am tired of being divided and pitted against each other. Although a central component of my campaign is restoring fairness in America and ensuring equality of opportunity for all, I believe that the number one issue facing our country and humanity writ large is a growing strife among society that is erasing civility and replacing it with pervasive antipathy. In this way, the biggest crisis we are facing in our time is a climate where snark has been normalized and ad hominem has been woven into the fabric of society.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that the vast majority of people are a good and decent lot who are nonetheless susceptible to the pull of our egos. Few among us have mastered the art of rising above our circumstances; frustration can get the best of most of us and hopelessness can turn even the cheeriest fellow into a curmudgeon. So it’s only natural to witness a growing sense of despair and hostility given the following set of facts:

  • the average net savings of Americans is zero
  • the wealth gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of us is at record levels
  • the richest 40 people own more than the bottom 40% of Americans combined
  • homelessness is nearing numbers not seen since the Great Depression
  • the vast majority of Americans are one or two missed paychecks away from utter disaster

The above facts are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the searing disparity between the few who monopolize most and the many who are being pulverized by economic policies that enrich the plutocracy and impoverish humanity. Far from addressing these pressing matters that are transforming the “shining city on a hill” that is America into the darkened village of peaks for Wall Street and valleys Main Street, politicians, pundits and media personalities have perfected the art of Balkanizing our nation in order to pit neighbor against neighbor in order to distract us through separable grievances.

Though we are conditioned daily to think otherwise, the reality is that there is a connective nature to our struggles. If we press pause on the culture wars, wedge issues and stop ingesting the red meat that is thrown at us by the media-politico complex, we would realize the pains of white, black, left, right, gay, straight and all identities and ideologies in between are interdependent. The misfortune of one impacts the fortunes of all.

The fears of a black child in Chicago who has to sleep at night with gunshots ricocheting in her ears are linked to the tears of a white child in Chattanooga who goes to bed hungry. A Democrat father in a “blue state” who has to work multiple jobs to feed his family is experiencing the same anxieties as a Republican mother in a “red state” who is forced to seek welfare in order to provide for her children. In a country that is blessed with an abundance of resources and human ingenuity, the only reason we have such high rates of poverty and economic uncertainties is because too many have been convinced that others who struggle like them are their foes instead of realizing that we are all in the same leaky boat together.

I did not always realize how dissension among the populous was actually the leading factor that contributes to the “gridlock in DC” which in turn makes social progress all but impossible. There was a time when I was as divisive as they came as I bashed Republican voters and collectively judged all white people for the ills of the world. It wasn’t until I became homeless in 2015 and saw first-hand how inequality and injustice transcend the socio-political divides and come for all irrespective of our differences that I shed my tribal blinders and became determined to stand and speak up for our common humanity.

The only way we can ever turn the corner as a country and realize justice without bias and equality of opportunity for all is if we appreciate the commonality of our pains.

It took seeing a seven-year-old white girl in a homeless shelter at Greensville, South Carolina eating breakfast with the rest of us “invisible citizens” for me to see how toxic the “us versus them” thinking truly is. The tears that I cried witnessing a child living in poverty before she was old enough to be in middle school changed me irrevocably. There are other moments that I recounted in the video below I recorded this morning that turned me away from identity and ideology-based politics and moved me towards our unity in order to overcome iniquities.

I truly hope and pray that the hard lessons I learned through two and a half years of destitution and despair are not the way we collectively learn to disavow groupthink and instead seek solidarity. We are at a tipping point as a country; we can choose the path of rancor and watch our country slowly disintegrate before us or we can opt for the course of empathy and hand our children a future of opportunity. I am running for Congress to attain the latter because the former is one we cannot afford to manifest through inaction.

I hope you join me in this journey of humble hope and add your name to the #Fikre4VA campaign as we work united and walk together to become the change we want to see. If you are interested in being a part of our truly grassroots campaign, one that is independent of both parties and refuses to take a penny from Wall Street, email us at [email protected].

“I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.” ~ Robert Kennedy

Campaign note: starting tomorrow, I will start rolling out my positions and will outline my stance and where I stand when it comes to economic, taxes, education, healthcare and foreign policies. I am asking for your vote and your support not only because of my desire to offer an alternative to the divisive nature of our politics but because I plan on fighting for disenfranchised and marginalized super-majority.