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In the old familiar story, a group of blind men learned an elephant had been brought to town. They each examined a different part of the huge beast. The first, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, 'This being is like a thick snake.' For another whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a fan. Another person touched its leg, and said, the elephant is like a tree trunk. The man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant is a wall. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk and thought the beast was hard, smooth and like a spear. None 'saw' the entire beast.

Today, we have all been aware of various parts of a monster, but the whole often eludes us. We saw a force working to ban books they didn’t like. So we got busy protecting books and free expression of ideas. It was a good cause, and we spent time and energy making sure our community was book-ban-free.

Recently we realized that our voting districts were gerrymandered. So folks got busy and carried petitions around their communities, knocked on doors, held rallies. Then, realizing voting was too restricted, citizens carried petitions, knocked on doors, worked to change this. Then we fought discrimination against minorities; others focused on poverty. Others worked for gender equality. We saw trouble; but we saw pieces of the puzzle, not the whole picture.

When the monster wore black robes and picked up a gavel, women’s autonomy was taken away and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community were threatened. So folks picked up their clipboards, knocked on doors, carried petitions around, marched, demonstrated, ran for office, voted … and in Michigan, and a few other states, pushed the threat out … partially and temporarily. Parents’ decisions about when to have children were protected for now; but trans people and LGBTQ+ people are still not safe in their homes and in public places. Minorities are unsafe and their educational needs are disregarded.

It’s hard to see the whole, huge danger; we tend to fight its parts instead of the entire thing. It still threatens family planning, contraception, and in-vitro fertilization for example. Young people need better, cheaper education and child-care support, and the whole planet needs to breathe.

It’s important to realize these are not separate individual groups working to diminish our freedoms — each has been part of a long-term goal of some very sinister folks who don’t want us to see the whole elephant. There are many fundamentalists nationwide, who adhere to a strict interpretation of the Old Testament. And many who pretend they do because they find it a convenient cover for their power-grabbing.

The judge who outlawed in-vitro fertilization in Alabama, Tom Parker, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson join with such power-hungry figures as Lauren Bobert, and Ted Cruz in membership in a widespread, ultra-conservative, group known as the Seven Mountain Mandate. This group seeks to impose its strict, out-of-date beliefs on all Americans, controlling all areas of our lives. They believe God wants them to control seven mountains, or aspects, of American life: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government. Mr. Trump was and is actively supported by this group.

Fundamentalist Christians, believers in the Seven Mountain Mandate actively work to impose their own narrow beliefs on the community at large with no regard for the deep faiths of others even though the U.S. is home to many diverse beliefs. They disregard the many religions that teach us all to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves.

Local pieces of the picture do matter: If our school board is not guarding academic standards of inclusiveness and accuracy, if our trans youth are not safe in public restrooms, if women can’t make their own decisions, if the LGBTQ+ community is not respected, if voting is not accessible, if our representatives expand gun access instead of limiting it, if districts are gerrymandered — everyone is at risk. The risk is both national like the elephant and local, like its parts.

— Sharon Kourous is a member of Stronger Together Huddle, a group engaged in supporting and promoting the common good of all. She resides in Monroe.and can be reached at

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