Who Do You Trust?
Who do you trust? I’m not thinking of political leaders. I’m referring to people. Whether they go to church is as irrelevant as their political party. What matters is whether they put their beliefs above evidence. Do they put Tribe above Truth? If they are unwilling to accept evidence, then the answer is beware. We all choose what we believe. But if we are unwilling to put evidence above ourselves, we can’t even trust ourselves.
Need examples? Think of someone you know who will believe allegations from their favorite “fact” source. But not watch testimony sworn under oath if they think it threatens their belief. Telling lies is not against the law. False testimony under oath is. That’s why some people do everything they can to avoid it. Cross-examination makes the veracity even stronger. If it’s the truth you fear, don’t watch.
All propogandists know if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. We witness today the ease of spreading lies. Millions believe the last presidential election was stolen based on allegations without evidence. Joseph Goebbels once said: “The more absurd the lie, the more people will believe it.” Q-Anon conspiracy anyone? Voltaire wrote during the reign of terror following the French Revolution over 200 years ago: “If you can get people to believe absurdities, you can get them to commit atrocities.” Remember January 6th. Times may have changed. But people haven’t.
If you have been following the evidence, you know the former president knew he lost the 2020 election while he was (and still is) telling people he didn’t. He knows his audience. He actually has two: Those who believe what he says because they need to be lied to; and those who don’t care if it’s true because they want power.
Submitted by James Tweed
Let Her Speak
When Americans think of Montana, they picture snow-capped peaks, rolling prairies, and rainbow trout darting through the crystal-clear rivers that run through it. Or they simply think of America’s first national park, Yellowstone – or its popular TV namesake.
There are also some truths about Montanans: We’re independent-minded, and community-centric. In snowy weather, you’ll never see one car off the road; you’ll always see two, because we stop to help to dig one another out of a ditch.
And, in Montana, freedom runs generations deep.
But these days, we’re losing our luster for all the wrong reasons. With the 2023 Montana Legislature ending, America is seeing a different version of the “Last Best Place.” Extremist Republican legislators banned TikTok, attempted to limit electoral choices by keeping third-parties off the ballot, tried to further restrict access to abortion despite the state’s strong constitutional right to privacy, and, in the ultimate affront to free speech, barred State Representative Zooey Zephyr, a bright, brave and talented trans legislator, from representing her 11,000 constituents back in our hometown of Missoula.
The Legislature’s Republican supermajority continues to strip away Montanans’ freedoms. On April 26, Zephyr was formally banned from the floor for allegedly breaking the House rules of decorum for previous heart-felt comments about a proposed ban on gender-affirming medical care. Just days before her floor privileges were taken away, Montanans turned up in the House gallery, chanting, “Let her speak.” Armed guards were called in, the gallery was cleared, and seven peaceful protesters were arrested.
This is not who we are. We’ve run for office and served our communities. Between us we have 10 decades of experience in making change. And although we’ve seen this kind of anti-democratic, authoritarian behavior before, this isn’t Montana. Banning a lawmaker – the first transgender legislator in Montana history – is a step too far and puts cruelty and malice on full display. Some lawmakers even deliberately misgendered Zephyr in calling for a ”commitment to civil discourse.” This extremist supermajority is intent on taking away freedoms enshrined in Montana’s Constitution, and is attempting to prevent us from fighting back.
It’s an embarrassing spectacle for a state that elected the very first woman to hold federal office – Jeannette Rankin, first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916.
As Montana women who have worked in the public, private and nonprofit sectors and the rough-and-tumble world of politics, we expect our egos to get bruised and to occasionally lose skirmishes. But we’ll not stand by in silence in the face of bigotry, sexism and undemocratic practices.
As proud Montanans, who value family, community, freedom, and engaging with our neighbors, we don’t expect to witness the sheer spitefulness from a supermajority that has lost its vision for Montana and refuses to show compassion and respect to communities who are too often targeted, bullied and belittled.
We expect more. So do most Montanans. The same afternoon that Zephyr was barred from the House, a young woman walked nonchalantly down a Missoula street. She was noticeable for a reason – not for what she said, but for what she did. She took out a Sharpie, wrote something down, and left a note behind: “Zooey Zephyr is my friend. Let her speak.”
Zooey Zephyr’s our friend, too. And, if she can’t speak, we will: Don’t let extremists strip away your freedoms, rights, and dignity. We’re never going to stop fighting for our freedoms – that’s what real Montanans do.
It’s time to take action. Please get engaged, and support and follow Rep. Zephyr and other women in leadership. Your support and your voice matter.
Let’s commit to being more tolerant, kind and helpful neighbors, and get back to pulling one another out of the ditch.
Submitted by Carol Williams and Whitney Williams
Who Are We Letting Create The Laws In Our State?
This past week, I received a disturbing postcard from Great Falls Republican Representative Lola Sheldon-Galloway. In her postcard message, Representative Sheldon-Galloway stated, “In our confusing WOKE Culture defining sex is necessary to clarify GOD’S Truth – GOD created male + female in HIS IMAGE! I will continue to STAND for this ETERNAL TRUTH!” (Punctuation and capitalization as written). I’m not going to dive into the logical fallacies of Lola’s statement. But I will point out that those are her personal religious beliefs, not eternal truths. Representative Sheldon-Galloway apparently lacks basic knowledge of our government’s founding principles.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from “establishing” a religion and protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please. The United States was founded as a secular nation. That means the separation of church and state is fundamental to our nation.
But our GOP-majority State Legislature and Republican Governor Greg Gianforte don’t care about THOSE rights. Instead the Montana GOP feels emboldened to let their religious beliefs lead their legislative actions. The GOP’s religious extremism is playing out as intended with the Republican majority’s attacks on LGBTQ+ Montanans. Our Republican “leaders” have pursued a slate of anti- LGBTQ+ bills throughout this legislative session. When their relentless, hate-filled bills were called out for the death sentence they are to LGBTQ+ children, Republicans silenced their colleague Democratic Representative Zooey Zephyr. The Republican Speaker of the House has banned Representative Zephyr from the House floor until she apologizes for her statements on the harmful impacts of their hate. Representative Zephyr is a trans woman, and to emphasize their cruel bigotry, Republicans have misgendered her repeatedly in their public comments.
Sadly, many of the GOP’s hateful, anti-LGBTQ+ bills are close to being signed into law by our equally extreme governor. Republican legislators are doing nothing to slow these attacks. Instead they are voting FOR this hate over and over again. These are sad, shameful days for our state’s proud tradition of “live and let live.” Not any more. Not when religious extremists have taken over the Montana GOP.
Submitted By Helena Lovick
Running on Montana, a Column about Life Perspectives
This month I want to focus on Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Growing up, I was good at staying busy. I played sports, acted in school dramas, learned instruments and bought a horse. When I wasn’t exercising my mind and body or working with animals, I was exercising my social skills, running all over Mineral and Missoula Counties with my friends.
I graduated high school a year early, thinking I would get a kick start on this adulting thing, only to uncover the truth about my mental health. Little did I know I was about to embark on a significant adventure. Through the journey to unravel life’s challenges, I found my passion for writing and sharing experiences to connect with peers and loved ones. As a result, I have wanted to teach others how to educate themselves, and help them feel less alone on their mental health journeys.
These days, as the sun peeks through the clouds and the snow melts, I enjoy driving wherever the wind blows. Windows down, heater up, and my favorite springtime music playing; I feel infinite energy. I start to clean the house, inside and out. Spring has sprung! The next day I wake up feeling rejuvenated after a long winter; I open the blinds only to find it’s snowing, and will snow for the next three days. All the spring wind leaves my sails. I keep my sweatpants on and shovel my drive with sorrows.
What happened? Why do I feel so blue? Where did my energy go? What do I do now?
From the many tools I have used to improve my mental state of mind, Montana is my Favorite-for all it offers, hunting, fishing, and horseback riding, not to mention the amazing seasons. Did you know winter can also play a part in your mental well-being?
Weather shifts play a significant role in all living organisms. It can sometimes determine if something will survive or thrive. As people, we are no different. Being raised in a small town in Montana, you tend to learn many unique life skills through experience rather than a tale; the wrath of the woods can be fierce, the river can swallow you whole, and Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. As a child, I understood the dangers of the rivers and the woods. Then in my late adolescence, I began to understand the physical and mental risks long winters can cause.
So, what is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD? According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression related to seasonal changes. Typically, people with SAD may start to feel low energy and mood shifting symptoms. It is common for these symptoms to occur from fall through winter; however, SAD can occur during the spring and summer months.
A few symptoms of SAD in the fall and winter include: feeling lethargic, low interest in things that typically bring you joy, oversleeping, craving carbs, and weight gain. SAD may look slightly different in the spring and summer months, with symptoms including insomnia, poor appetite, weight loss, anxiety, and irritability. It is common for symptoms to start mild at the beginning of the season and grow more severe as the season progresses. However, all the signs, no matter the season, may lead to hopelessness, lack of self-worth, guilt, and even thoughts of not wanting to live.
It is normal to have hard days where it seems nothing is going right, but if you persistently have days where you feel down, there is help. Common treatments include light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication. Ultimately the choice is yours. But you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out to your local mental health professionals or utilize resources online and let them help you determine the best actions for you to take.
If you are in a severe life-threatening crisis, call or text 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24/7 support. Montana 211 connects you to non-emergency resources and assistance throughout Montana. Dial 211 or visit montana211.org for more information.