After Joe Biden was elected president, I took a step back from being tuned into the news. I disengaged from many issues that had caused me outrage and demanded my energy.

After four years of relentless travesties and regression of progress under the “leadership” of former President Donald Trump, I was exhausted. I took advantage of my privilege as a white, middle-class Midwesterner and allowed myself to disconnect.

The need to show up and speak up is back with a vengeance. The respite from the urgency to act has passed. We may not be under the threat of Trump, but as I've been rudely and relentlessly reminded of recently, there are still many doing their best to prevent progress.

Their fear of having to relinquish control, have their comfort challenged, or face reality motivates them. From the recovery of the pandemic to the right for women to have autonomy of their bodies, their hypocrisy is ludicrous. In one breath they cry "our bodies, our choice" to support their anti-mask, anti-vaccine stance, and in the next, they declare power over women's bodies.

I found my muse for this column and motivation to get back to working for progress in the parking lot of Scheels. An Escalade adorned with anti-Biden rhetoric, including a bumper sticker that read, "Joe and the ho have to go," immediately sparked anger. However, I realized that getting a rise out of me was exactly what the driver wanted, so rather than let it get to me, I tempered my frustration by committing to getting back in the arena to fight for change.

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Our energy is finite. We can't afford to waste it on responding to things with anger. People who resort to derogatory comments based on one's gender to state their political position or lash out in threats and intimidation to show where they stand on an issue are as weak as the foundation of their beliefs. Our best response to their ugly displays isn't to stoop to their level with more hate and anger but to remain persistent in our efforts to effect positive change. Our energy and resources are much better spent supporting things that make people like the Escalade driver uncomfortable.

The Escalade’s inane bumper sticker was a good reminder that we can’t become complacent. We’ve made that mistake before. We’ve been ignorant of the realities of the underserved and underrepresented. We’ve been blind to racism and the deep chasms of inequality that separate us. We’ve sat back and continued to allow women’s rights, human rights and equal rights to flounder rather than flourish.

What Trump represented remains all around us. Many continue to threaten equality, our environment, and civility. The good news is all the bumper stickers in the world aren’t going to accomplish anything, but our commitment to showing up and standing up for what’s right will create small ripples of change that will, over time, amount to waves of progress.

To the driver of the Escalade, in response to your bumper sticker, I’d like to remind you of a few things: Women’s rights are human rights. Black lives matter. Science is real. And love is love. Thanks for being my inspiration to keep fighting the good fight.

Click here for more columns from Josie Danz.

Danz is an avid runner, reader and writer. She’s a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead who lives, works and believes in downtown Fargo. She’s a regular contributor to The Forum’s opinion pages.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.