I have sat at a blank Word Doc for a while trying to think of what to say. I have written this opening line, so many times I have stopped keeping count. I’d write this thinking it would be inspiring in these seemingly dark hours and then delete it because it sounded too robotic, too detached for a topic that deserves to have some shred of a human response.
I’m a writer; it is my job to have the words to say. So, it is uncomfortable to admit that there are no words to properly describe what is going on in America. What can I write that would work for the masses instead of a tiny niche? And, more importantly, what could I write that sounds dignified when I’ve had that rare moment when my reaction would make my Navy grandfather cackle in glee?
I’ve attempted, failed, tried again, and failed again. So, since I promised my reader base an article once I graduated, I thought the suitable thing to do is to write this article as a letter.
To summarize things: I am tired. Of what? Take your pick; there’s a high likelihood that you hit the nail on the head.
I spent the wee hours of Nov 9th on my Tumblr page and Facebook page keeping an eye out for friends who would be harmed by the President-Elect’s policies. I wrote as many encouraging things to my friends as possible to provide sanity in this madness. I burned with rage as one friend after another had a panic attack. Why? They’re on Apple Care (WA’s health provider under ACA) or simply among the group the future president and the GOP consider to be less than human and certainly not someone they want in their idea of what society should be. For many, I wrote with the hope that I successfully talked them out of suicide and got them the info they needed.
When my body finally demanded I get some sleep, I did so with the fear that I’d wake to the news that a friend or two killed themselves. Thus far all are among the living, but that doesn’t ease any fears. Days later, several friends agonized over the decision to leave their religious jewelry at home, and since then they have become depressed because their faith was the only thing that kept them sane. Such a thing breaks my heart and makes me livid. It isn’t right that I can worship in peace while they are spat on, assaulted, and their holy places vandalized. At one point in history, my religion was the one persecuted and called a cult. Over a century ago my ethnic backgrounds were on the “need not apply” signs throughout Chicago.
What’s my point by mentioning this? Stop acting like the current acts of hate won’t hurt you. Stop acting like this doesn’t affect you and yours. If you look far back enough in history, you will see someone like you who were discriminated against because of appearance, religion, the country of origin, or class. Your ancestors could have been the ones who prayed to their power(s)-that-be for mercy. If they were right next to you, what do you think they’d say? Would the response be something you could live with?
A while back I sat back and wrote a piece under the curious thought of if my grandpa was alive. After all, it was fitting since I’ve been working on a documentary about the WWII events he witnessed and was a part of. The man was a first generation Swedish-American. His parents and siblings moved back to Sweden in the late 1930s and stayed. He watched the rise of Nazi Germany from his parent’s farm when he came to visit, watched the start of WWII, and he was there with a rifle and a mechanic’s toolbox at the end of the war as he sat in a boat headed for a suicide mission we now call D-Day.
I’ve spent a lifetime wondering what this man felt as WWII broke out. I have a feeling it would break his heart if he saw the terror that was clearly on my face that evening of the 8th. My grandfather’s heart would have broken because this is not the future he wanted and fought for. That’s normally how it goes, doesn’t it? The generations before us always wish for their descendants to have a better, brighter world than what they had.
Yet, that isn’t what my generation has. We grew up being told promises by parents and grandparents of what the world would be. The complete story of a husband and wife, the two kids, pets, and that awful white picket fence with a comfortable bank account to match. Instead of getting that, we have student loans that we’ll be lucky to pay off before we retire and a long list of grievances that would turn this letter into a ten-page essay if I wrote them all out. And you wonder why we are expressing ourselves so loudly through means that started the history of our government?
No, really, in a country that was launched into birth over the vandalism of tea why on earth are you surprised that we still use protest (non-violent or violent) today? Every American history textbook shows us it works. Events in European countries show us that protests work and we watched them with a notebook in hand. In a world where money is the only thing that speaks or causes change, the way to battle it is a physical show of unity.
What happens after tomorrow is something I don’t want to thing of. Perhaps the reason is because the situation feels hopeless. The politics of the parties have become more important that the problems of the people. Interpretations of a single religion have become a source of division and the cause for people acting like they have no empathy. Personal incentives to lean one way have become the reason progress does not happen. What’s going on in the capital right now feels like taxation without representation, and we all know what happened when Americans felt that in the past. We don’t matter anymore, and it has caused a split that might not be mended in our lifetime unless we take the time to care for each other.
As these last two months have shown, I’ve become numb as I hear of suicide deaths because someone couldn’t handle the uncertainty of the future. So many of them have happened in between peers fleeing for other countries very few have a reasonable reaction. When did we become so desensitized to tragedies? When did America become so bad that she’s the country my generation is running away from? While you contemplate an answer to those here are two more, when did it become okay for people in power to have such a lack of empathy toward someone else’s suffering? When did people become blind to the necessities for life and deny it to those who are less fortunate?
I hold the belief that when those questions are answered and acted upon, we will end up with a better world. When everyone is seen as human and given equal standing, that is when we will progress as a civilization and surpass the crap we’re surrounded by right now. All it takes for change to happen is for 5% to get it started. If that doesn’t bring a shred of hope, I don’t know what will.