Tag Archives: democracy

The Other side of the Couch – Ukraine



I sit here today, safe, in my own warm house with my own possessions around me.  I can use my cell phone to call anyone I want to call.  I can walk outside without worrying.  I can speak my mind to my neighbors, and while we may disagree, I am not afraid that I will be turned in to the police for something I have said or done. I have money to buy food, and if I need cash I can go to the bank and access my checking account to get more cash.  My family is safe, and I know that I can see them whenever I want to do so.

And as I sit here, safe, warm, with choices and a future, I am thinking of the people of Ukraine, who have none of these certainties.  I am thinking of the women and children who are saying goodbye to their husbands and fathers; I am thinking of the young men and women who are choosing to fight for their country at the risk of losing everything, because if they do not they have already lost everything worth living for.  I am thinking of the maternity hospital, bombed by the Russians.  I am thinking of the waves of refugees pouring across the borders into the West.

And I am thinking of the soldiers from both countries, soldiers who are fighting in a war that they neither chose nor believed would happen.  These young men – and women – will die because of the twisted mind of a man whose greed and vanity and ego have released the scourge of war once again on an innocent people.

The Russian people are suffering as well – pulled into a war they, too, did not choose and blinded by the limited access to other perspectives than that which is fed to them by the state-run media.

Here in Fortress America, far away from the realities of war on the European continent, it may be too easy to say to ourselves that this war has nothing to do with us – it is over there, far away.  I know that there are some who are saying exactly that, although their voices have been muted by the extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukranian people’s fight against Putin.  This is exactly what was said in the 30s and 40s in the runup to WWII by many – until we were attacked at Pearl Harbor.  Let it not come to that – let it not be that our political will to fight Putin and his war machine has to depend on our own country being attacked in order to muster the will to crush him.

I am grateful that the leaders of the European Union have stepped up and that the careful diplomacy of the Biden administration has created a unified response to an unprovoked attack on all democracies.  May it hold firm in the difficult days ahead.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com.
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It Don’t Mean a Thing, If…

All the protests on social media, the on-line petitions and marching in the streets don’t mean a thing. All the Twitter memes, wall murals, statue removals, and messages painted on streets don’t mean a thing.

If you don’t vote.

Marches won’t do it. Social media rants don’t count.  The only way to change unpopular governments and their policies is to vote.  Nothing will change if you don’t vote.

Yet in the U.S., barely half of the voting age population actually votes in presidential elections. The numbers are even worse for mid-term Congressional elections and downright dismal for state and local elections.

Tennessee ranks 49th out of 50 states for voter turnout and was the 37th state to create an on-line voter registration system.  The state is currently dragging its bureaucratic feet on expanding voting by mail despite a federal court order and a pandemic endangering the health of the voters.

With pathetically low numbers like these, the U.S. ranks near the bottom for voter turnout among democratic countries. But a democracy is only as strong as its free and fair elections; which won’t happen if people don’t vote.  When voters don’t vote, democracy dies.

When most voters don’t vote, it is easy for small groups of fanatically committed people to take over a country. Fanatical groups always have a message that sounds reasonable, like law and order, national security, limiting immigration or some other seemingly innocuous message.  But fanatically committed political groups are always anti-democratic.

Once they have control of the presidential and legislative levers of government, they systemically undermine all democratic institutions that might limit their power. The first to go are inspector general offices which investigate wrong-doing by government officials. Next to go is a free press.  After that judicial independence is wiped out.  Without a free press and an independent judiciary, any citizen (i.e., voter) can be imprisoned any time on bogus charges.  Being an alleged national security threat is a favorite.

By the time the voters wake up to the situation, every election is a sham and votes truly don’t count.  Democracy exists only as a façade.

What does a sham democracy look like?  It looks like Thailand, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and most of the countries created from former Yugoslavia.   If the U.S. wants to continue being a democracy, people need to step up to the ballot box and vote.

Because…all the marches, memes, on-line protests, pulling down statues and painting the street don’t mean a thing…..if you don’t vote.




About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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Filed under History


Years ago I worked for Los Angeles’ County’s central labor council, which is the political organizing body for the local AFL-CIO.  It was an exciting time and I learned about grassroots organizing and political mobilization.  Probably the most powerful message for me is that we are incredibly privileged to live in this country, flawed though it is, and to have the right to make our voices heard in a peaceful manner. 

Many of our union members were immigrants who fled countries where they did not have the right to vote, enough food and water, education for their children and basic health care.  It was always so moving for me to watch new American citizens vote for the first time.  In fact, it was my honor at times to help drive people to the polls.  The weekends leading up to election day are known as GOTV, or Get Out The Vote.  We would head into neighborhoods with historically low turnout, and knock on doors.  I visited places I never knew existed in my own hometown and talked to so many people who were grateful for the opportunity to participate in their government.  It was probably one of the most formative experiences of my adult life. 

I’ve become passionate about the voting process and encourage everyone I know to make sure they vote, particularly young people, who often feel disenfranchised by a cumbersome system designed to discourage people from getting to the ballot box.  Today, more than ever, it is imperative that everyone who is qualified, gets registered and then goes to the poll.  This is the primary way to make our voices heard and to decide who we want working for us.  When so much feels out of our control, the one thing we can control is our own voice.  So today, wherever you are, think about what it means to live in a democracy.  And if you live in a state that has a primary, make sure you Get Out The Vote.  Our future depends on you.


About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the current Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org .

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The Other Side of the Couch – What Do You Do When Your Heart Is Broken?


November 8, 2016 started out as a day of hope for millions of United States citizens.  By November 9 that hope had been transformed into what felt and has continued to feel like a surreal nightmare.  As one young friend said to me that day, “This is not the country that I thought I lived in.”  Reminding one’s self that this election did not reflect the majority vote is helpful, but it does not change the fact that the person who triumphed in this race did so by unleashing the forces of bigotry and hate.

What can a person do who is struggling with what happened?  What do we tell our children, who in many cases have awoken to a totally unexpected world – a world in which bullies triumph and hate speech is condoned.  What do we tell our friends from other countries, whose skin color, accent, race or religion have been targeted?  What do we tell each other as women, whose ability to have control over our own bodies is in jeopardy?

I don’t have good answers to these questions.  I know that in this democracy power is passed peaceably.  I try not to believe that all the people who voted for him support these kinds of attitudes.  I have heard people say that they voted for him in spite of these attitudes because they are so desperate for change and felt so unheard.  Well, good luck with that.  You have unleased the genie, and putting all of this anger and hatred back in the bottle is going to be a hard job.

I know that he will be the 45th president.  I also know that I can’t give up and stop trying to effect change, be it at the most micro level by the way I talk to someone, listen to someone, write to someone, challenge someone.  I will hold my broken heart and sew it back together with words and actions that continue to support the values of caring and inclusion on which I have based my life.

What will you do?

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!


Filed under History, Self Savvy