What will you do on the day fascism wins in America?

Months from now, when you realize that the terrible things you always dismissed as virtual impossibilities have actually come to pass, how will you feel?

When it becomes sickeningly clear that January 6th, 2021 was not a final and resounding defeat of this malignant ugliness but merely a postponement of its eventual victory, what will run through your mind?

Will you regret not taking it all more seriously?

Will you grieve the loss of the nation you dreamed we could have been?

Will your heart break for your children and grandchildren and for the terrifying future they will now inherit?

Will you lament your silence, your inaction, all the times you abstained from the fight because you were too tired or too lazy—or simply because you never imagined this was even a remote possibility?

Will you desperately pray to rewind the world and have one more chance to do and say and give all that you did not before fascism won?

It will all be somewhat irrelevant, because on the day fascism does win you will have far fewer choices than you do right now. Your voice and your vote and your options will no longer mean what they mean as you read this.

Our Democracy is not guaranteed, our Republic not ensured to survive, the freedoms and systems that we always saw as a given are no longer fixed promises. The sobering truth, regardless of whether we want to believe it or not, is that we are perilously close to losing many of the elemental liberties we assumed could never be taken away.

The good news is that we are not quite yet there.

Fascism has not yet fully won, which means we do not have to grieve all that we did not do or say or give, if we do and say and give it now, if we use today wisely.

We still have this sacred and urgent present moment to engage in the fight and to sacrifice what we can and to leave no work undone—and to call upon our better angels to show up and spend themselves on behalf of the America we wish to see and the future we dream of leaving for those who will follow behind us.

America, we are a hair’s breadth from authoritarianism; from a conservative white theocracy at the hands of a small minority of the absolute worst human beings among us. We are at the precipice of forced submission at the hands of people who fully despise diversity and equity and empathy. This is not hyperbole or sky-is-falling histrionics, it is the sober and clear evaluation of what will be, if the kind and decent human beings of this nation choose to stay silent or procrastinate away our activism or assume that justice will prevail simply because we cannot imagine it failing.

History has shown us the cost and the consequence of good people underestimating hateful people’s capacity for inhumanity. What we have seen over the past five years should be all the evidence we need, that we cannot dismiss this viciousness or rationalize away why it cannot win, or turn away and anesthetize ourselves with social media and streaming binges and pray for the storm to spare us even though we are in its path.

On the day fascism wins here, I hope you will speak and work and fight like hell to bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice. We will need the good people here more than ever, then.

But since fascism has not yet won, I hope you will martial all of your energy and the totality of your resources and every bit of passion you have for this nation, the planet, for the people you love, and for those you will never know but care deeply about—and you will empty yourself to make sure that fascism does not win.

Don’t fall asleep.
Don’t turn away.
Don’t relent.
Don’t let someone else fight for you.
Don’t assume decency’s victory.

Don’t pray, wish, or hope that fascism does not win.

Make sure it doesn’t.

It’s all in your hands.

by John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz is a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. A 25-year veteran in the trenches of local church ministry, John is committed to equality, diversity, and justice—both inside and outside faith communities. When not actively working for a more compassionate planet, John enjoys spending time with his family, exercising, cooking, and having time in nature. He is the author of A Bigger Table, Hope and Other Superpowers, Low, and Stuff That Needs to Be Said.