By Lindsay Morgenstein
As the calendar turns to 2019, we can now focus on the next twelve months and the pressing issues facing our nation. This may not be a midterm or presidential election year, but there are still a number of crucial justice issues I hope we can address in 2019. Here’s my justice resolution list for the coming year.
Impactful and effective climate legislation
With new studies suggesting climate change’s drastic effects on vulnerable communities, the economy, water quality, and severe weather events, it is more important now than ever to advance comprehensive climate legislation. Our country must begin to invest in clean energy to create a sustainable, renewable-energy based economy. Yet, as individual citizens, it is also our duty to take actions every day to reduce our ecological footprint. From turning off the lights to carpooling or biking to school/work, there are many opportunities within our own lives to make a tangible impact on the Earth. A key Jewish value, tikkun olam, stresses the importance of “repairing the world,” and the combination of climate legislation and individual actions can help us do just that.
Gun violence prevention
In Leviticus, as G-d gives numerous laws to Moses, the Torah says “do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” Every day in America, 100 people are killed by a gun. As both an American and a Jew, it is my hope that effective legislation will pass to reduce this horrific statistic. Through mandatory universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole and safer gun ownership, I hope this will be the year we take concrete action to prevent the senseless gun violence that has plagued our nation. Instead of just sending my thoughts and prayers after tragedies, I will take tangible steps toward change by calling and emailing my senators and representatives to urge action. Those who represent us on Capitol Hill cannot be fully informed on their constituents’ opinions if we don’t communicate directly with them.
Solving the immigration crisis
A peaceful and morally just solution to America’s immigration crisis is absolutely imperative for the upcoming year. With millions of undocumented immigrants living in fear, hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients stuck in limbo, and many more turned away at our border while seeking asylum, it is now time to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. DACA recipients deserve the right to live here safely, undocumented immigrants must be offered a reasonable path to citizenship, and our country must be ready to accept those in pursuit of the freedoms we, too, enjoy. While this crisis should be solved through legislation, it is also our responsibility to start conversations with our friends and neighbors about such an important issue. Just as we were once strangers in the land of Egypt, we are called to welcome the stranger into the nation we love.
As Jewish people, it is our duty and responsibility to pursue justice for our Earth and all of its people. I hope that in 2019, we can work together toward a more just world.
Lindsay Morgenstein is a public policy major at Duke University and member of the JCJ Campus Activism Fellowship cohort.