Fired Up, Part 4: Screw It, I’m Going to Smile Anyway
For many people, it’s been a tough few days. I know some people are hooting and hollering in delight, but they will only be able to maintain that state for so long, before they realize their lives are not getting better and nobody’s drunk uncle is going to change that.
I’ve had to tamp down all my #notallwhitepeople, #notallwomen, #notallliberals, #notallcitydwellers, #notallmidwesterners defensiveness and close myself off from the stream of blame pouring from every venue. Blame isn’t going to help the Trump supporters improve their lives and it sure as hell won’t help the rest of us move forward.
I’m done with politicking for now, because that piece of the equation is ostensibly out of my control. I voted. My candidate lost and now my government is becoming a kakistocracy (thanks, Elyse for the new vocabulary word!). I don’t like, trust or want to be represented by these people, a mishmash of know-nothings, salivating jackals who want to stick it to anyone who ever insulted them by screwing up the entire country.
The real key is to figure out what to do now. When you’re unwilling to engage in the blame game, it comes down to what you, as an individual, can do. And figuring that out takes a little soul-searching. What’s important to you?
My initial reaction was a long laundry list of causes and needs that could easily paralyze me where I stand. We get overwhelmed with the number of things that could be fixed in this world. Sometimes we have to pick and choose what our priorities are and focus on them. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care about other issues. It just means we’re one human who can only do so much.
The results of the election have helped me crystallize what I want to protect and advance. I’ve decided my priorities for the moment are: civil rights, reproductive rights, education and the environment. If the luxury of time or money is not yours to share, find one thing, one cause, something close to your heart and put it there.
Yesterday I joined the NAACP ($30 for annual membership), donated to The Center for Reproductive Rights, set up a small monthly donation to the Sierra Club and registered to become a community volunteer in my school district for 10 hours a week. It’s not much, but it’s a beginning.
I am still finishing the letters to my congressional representatives. I forget that my writing process is always longer then I expect. I told them who I am, what I care about and wished them well as they enter into the fray.
In the upcoming days, I will write to the people I didn’t vote for. I will tell them who I am, what I care about and wish them the strength of character to be better than the pack of hyenas they appear to be. I’ll say it more nicely, though. Maybe.
I keep thinking about how people of color must be shaking their heads at the white people who have just gotten “woke” to the alive-and-kicking racism in this country. And the environment would like to know where the hell I’ve been. My uterus just yelled about damned time. There’s room for mocking and criticism and I can take it. I figure it’s part and parcel of getting into the mix after staying for so long, so comfortably out of it.
This is the silver lining that we can find in the electing of a horrible human being. The rest of us can learn how not to be bystanders or complacent.
I know I’m going to make mistakes and assumptions. I know I’m no saint and I expect to be schooled accordingly. I know that I may not fully understand the issues on the ground or the academic theory that drives feminism and racism and immigrant issues. But I’m here now. Tell me what I can do to help. I’m listening.
MAKING IT PERSONAL
I’ve always believed politics is personal in theory, but this year, it felt extremely personal. My fellow Americans voted for someone who tapped into every hate-filled philosophy in this country and made it his very own. So, yeah, I do take it personally.
Last night, my daughter and I started to get back to some martial arts and strength training. I’m putting up the speed and heavy weight bags again – good for practice, good for anger. I’m not going to wear a safety pin, because I am not fond of symbolism for its own sake (plus, I’m pretty sure that little bugger would eventually stab me). I’ve always been a safety pin. No matter your limitations, do something to make yourself stronger rhetorically and/or physically. Imagine and walk yourself through situations that might require your intervention, whether it be protecting someone in public or disagreeing at the Thanksgiving table.
I’ve been thinking about our finances. Our family lives below its means, but now we’re going to take austerity measures. I want to give more support for causes I believe in (and we might need bail money). The future is uncertain and the effects of any Social Security and Medicare tinkering during this regime will hit hard when my husband and I prepare to retire. Likely when we’re 85, at this rate. This is a good time to sort out what we need from what we want.
In the words of a favorite blogger and writer, Chuck Wendig, I’m going to ART HARDER. Many years ago I read the autobiography of a man in a foreign prison and what I’ve never forgotten was his ability to recite poetry in his darkest hours. You will find this in a lot of camp literature – the pieces of humanity people hold onto when everything else is bleak – the music, the words. Art is a reflection of our humanity, something we must remind ourselves of over and over, so that we can stop our “othering” and connect with each other.
This is my final post in this after-election series. I have needed to write more this week than usual, but will likely retreat back to once or twice a week posting of the mental flotsam in my brain. Time to regain some equilibrium in order to be in this for the long haul.
Thank you – take care of yourselves and each other.