Emperor penguins and coalitions.


December 23, 2016

I was half-watching a nature show about emperor penguins last night while making dinner. Hearing about mom and dad penguins taking turns to make an arduous 2-month journey to find food for their baby, I was grateful that the garlic I was chopping came from a market 10 minutes away. But this really caught my attention:  while sheltering the baby under folds of the parent’s body usually is enough to protect them in the antarctic cold, when there is a storm, they can only protect themselves by massing together. Their shared body heat allows them to weather the storm.
penguinOkay, we are not penguins. But we don’t want to be any less smart than penguins. People also need to come together to protect themselves against storms, whether meteorological or political.  And now there is a big one coming: far-reaching proposals to end health insurance coverage and rigidly restrict nutrition, medical, housing, education, and so many other services.  If you work at an organization that relies on federal funding, you are right to be worried. But if you think the best response is to go it alone at a time when deep, across-the-board human needs cuts and constricted roles for Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, etc. are on the table, we respectfully urge you to consider the penguins.

I know I’m breaking all kinds of writing rules in this – stop with the penguins and get to the point!  And even worse, there are two really important points:

DONATE:  Since the Reagan years, the Coalition on Human Needs has drawn upon the work of our members and nationwide network to protect and advance the needs of low-income people. When we look at the incoming Congress and the President-elect and his Cabinet nominees, we know the threat Americans face today is actually much worse than anything we faced in the 1980s. But working together, we have helped prevent cuts. We have helped make gains – this month, funds for Flint, MI, and over the years, increases in low-income tax credits, child care, housing and nutrition aid.  We need your support (tax-deductible!) so we can afford to put on webinars, organize Hill visits, and inform you of key times to speak out. And replace our ancient phone equipment. Any amount helps. You can either donate online (or hit the above button) or send a check to the Coalition on Human Needs, Attn: Melissa Roark, 1120 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 312, Washington, D.C. 20036.

ACT:  One way we bring our community together is through letters signed by thousands of organizations nationwide, and even more individuals speaking out.  (For us non-penguins, that’s so much more convenient than shivering together in the Antarctic.)  We need you to make this a success – so read our letter and, if you represent an organization, please sign it. If you want to stand up and be counted as an individual, please sign the petition. Click here to see the letter or petition and (we hope) to sign.  We have extended the letter deadline to January 19.  We need local, state, national groups – congregations, unions, consumer, civil rights, policy groups, service providers, businesses, etc. The threats facing us are real. Some reading this are directly vulnerable – others understand how attacks on the weakest make our nation weaker.  Standing together is the right thing to do – it is also the effective thing to do.  Please take part!

If you’re still reading, THANK YOU!  We at CHN wish you very happy holidays, and a new year of peace, laughter, compassion, and solidarity.

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