apathy is privilege

It’s like a death has happened. Enough people in our country voted in just the right places (note: not the majority of us, though) to elect a demagogue. So the majority of us are grieving, and mourning, and aching, and lost, at the moment. We’ll get ourselves together, we’ll rally, we’ll organize, we’ll work to protect the vulnerable among us . . . unlike the stated plan of the Republicans had they lost, which was to call the election rigged, to fail to concede, to imprison the opponent, to bring out guns and violence. No, instead we will organize and work, once we get through the pain.

But you know, none of whatever Trump does will affect me personally and immediately. I’m white, not a person of color. I was born in this country, and my family has been here for generations. I’m straight. I’m not in the stage of my life where reproduction is a concern. I have a bit of work. I don’t have any family in the military, serving in dangerous places. I’m not disabled. I will be nowhere near our new president so I guess my pussy is safe from him, at least. I don’t have a pre-existing condition that will disallow me from getting health insurance. Of course he will affect me quite personally, down the road, when he ignores climate change, and when he and his Republican Congress gut Social Security, which I’ve been paying into my entire working life and have depended on as a substantial part of my retirement because I am so far from wealthy it’s not funny.

But the part that has me grieving the most is the threat he poses to others, people who just barely have the same rights I have already, and whose rights will probably be snatched away. Marriage equality, for instance. Reproduction rights, already unavailable to most poor women in my own [current] home state of Texas even though they are currently granted by a Supreme Court decision — which I expect they will try to overturn. Gun reform? Forget it, now. Ending Citizens United? No way. And so all the dark money, all the Koch Brothers etc machinations to make the rich even richer and screw everyone else, that will continue on. Giving refuge to immigrants, that ain’t gonna be happening, no way. Climate change? Oh, didn’t you hear that it’s just a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, and so no worries, man. Fair treatment for women? Tossed back a decade or two, if not more, because you can bet they’ll post Supreme Court Justices, even though they failed to do their job when Obama was obligated to replace Scalia. The sheer irony I choke on is that everything the far right complains about most, corruption and money in politics that keeps the little guy down, they just voted to ensure.

But you know, I don’t have any money anyway, so whatever. I pay 100% more taxes than our president-elect has paid, and there’s not one thing I can do about it. Not one.

Can I, though, sit in my privilege and just shrug, since I won’t be personally and immediately affected? Because my daily life won’t be impacted. I don’t have to worry that a knock will come on my door, or when I’m moving around in the world. I don’t have to worry that I’ll be brutalized on the street because I’m gay, or brown, or of another religion. I don’t have to worry that some ignorant white thug with a trucker’s cap and an assault rifle, newly emboldened by his president-elect who has championed that violence, will kill me. I don’t have to worry that during a routine traffic stop a cop will kill me and get away with it.

Instead, I have to get up. I have to fight. I have to pick which fights I can engage in, because although I want to engage in all of them, I don’t have the available time that would require, and I’m not in any one place long enough to have a sustained commitment to a local group, in a meaningful way. But I have to fight, however I can. I have to be prepared for trouble, because I also have to speak out when I see something terrible happening, whether it’s a cop harassing a black person, a thug harassing a gay person or couple, or a Muslim, or anyone harassing another woman. I have to be honed and ready, and not be caught off guard. It’s go-time, y’all. It’s get off the Facebook meme and go time. It’s speak-up time. It’s speak-out time. It’s self-defense time. Here is a list of outlets you can study to find when and where you can fight back, if you’re interested.

My friends helped me through the worst of the immediate aftermath, and now I’ve found the little crack where the light is getting in. Let’s hold hands and do this. Let’s remember

John Lewis, who has fought for civil rights relentlessly since the 1960s, slow and steady and never giving up, or giving in.
John Lewis, who has fought for civil rights relentlessly since the 1960s, slow and steady and never giving up, or giving in.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been fighting her whole adult life for women and children, and who simply gets up every single time she is knocked down, and gets back to work.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been fighting her whole adult life for women and children, and who simply gets up every single time she is knocked down, and gets back to work. I admire her for this more than I can ever say.
Martin Luther King, who said "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."
Martin Luther King, who said “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Still waiting.
Fred Rogers, who said, “Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” Very hard.
Fred Rogers, who said, “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” Very hard.

These people will be my touchstones, my sources of energy and persistence when mine flags, because mine flags too quickly. Help me, let’s help each other, because I meant it when I said with her that we’re stronger together. Let’s make her rallying cry reality — for her, for ourselves, and for everyone else. I’m still with her.

integrity and persistence

A couple of days ago I saw something flying through Facebook about this being National Women’s Month or something. And my first — and very loud — thought was a nasty, sarcastic one. Oh, aren’t we lucky, acknowledge us for one month of the year and then go right back to trying to take away our rights. I heard my bitterness and it made me feel bad.

That bitter feeling is a familiar one to me these days. I hate the way we talk to each other now. I hate the way our politics have become so laced with acid (pointing that finger back at myself too), I hate the way people troll and bully others just because they believe they can get away with it, I hate the contempt we all seem to have for each other, except for the people in our immediate life. I hate the contempt so many have for poor people, for marginalized people. And I feel great despair about it changing, exactly because of how we cannot talk to each other.

This morning I just happened to catch the tail-end of Meet the Press, a show I never watch. John Lewis was on the screen, speaking in his quiet, urgent, non-rancorous way. This isn’t from this morning, but he’s here in this clip talking about Selma.

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It’s funny, because about a week ago I was thinking about gay marriage, and how we do seem to be getting somewhere even though it’s still being fought with nastiness in parts of the country, including Texas. But it’s getting somewhere. Would I have thought it really would be possible several years ago? Would the early gay activists have thought it really would happen some day? They were so busy fighting for such basic things I wonder if they even thought that far ahead.

Women in this country haven’t even been voting for 100 years yet. African-American people only been voting for 50 years. So that means we’ve only had something like a democracy for 50 years. When African-Americans started fighting to be treated as human beings — as human beings — the fight ahead was so incredibly long. When women started fighting for their rights as human beings, the fight ahead was so incredibly long. These two groups are still fighting.

acknowledgement of a hero
acknowledgement of a hero

And still, change happens. It’s slow, it goes forward and then backwards, but then forward again. I have to believe that we will get there, and I know we can’t get there the way we are now. John Lewis is always asked if he’s bitter, and he always says that he’s not. That he has never been bitter, that he is not bitter now. He came up in a system that believed in love, and not bitterness. He’s quiet, he’s very serious, he sees how things are now, but he just quietly keeps moving forward. Today a step forward. Tomorrow a step forward. His movement is bigger than him, and today he steps forward.

It’s great to find a person you can emulate, a kind of hero. A person to call to mind when you feel despair. John Lewis is that for me. That kind of integrity, plus that kind of passion, is what makes things happen.

Happy Sunday everyone. <3