Friday, January 20, 2017

On This January Day


I majored in Political Science in college. Then, because I wanted to live abroad, I went into teaching. Overseas, I saw that people don't live the way we do here in the US. I experienced exceptional quality of life, a feeling of true safety and security and excellent healthcare, which was structured by the government in such a way that we never had to worry about being bankrupted by medical bills. Granted I only lived in one teeny-tiny utopian country for five years total, but it changed me. It changed what I thought was possible and it changed what I think people deserve. Since returning to the US, I have felt a constant sense of insecurity. People seem downtrodden and hopeless. Seeing homeless people and vets asking for money at highway off ramps was downright shocking when we first came back. We've dealt with unemployment and underemployment and going back to school and changing careers in mid-life. This has given us a comprehensive tour of the US healthcare system, so-called safety net and social programs. It has been horrifying.

I mentioned almost a year ago that we were huge Bernie supporters in this house. We took both of our kids to the caucuses (Theo in the hiking backpack!) and we were so excited about the possibility of a Bernie Sanders presidency. And then things just nosedived and I found it all so depressing. I buried my head in the sand.

All of this time, my only way to cope has been to bury my head in the sand and pretend that none of this madness is actually happening. When I say "madness" I mean that Donald J. Trump has been elected as President of the United States by spouting a populist message that is completely contradictory to his policies and actions since being elected. And that people on both sides of the spectrum are being aggressive, hateful and angry in their speech and actions. To me, it feels almost apocalyptic. And try as I might, I'm not having any success in finding ways to be the love to drive out the hate, or the light to drive out the darkness, as Dr. King suggested.

But, I realized this morning, that burying my head in the sand is no longer an option. I'm very concerned about the future. I'm worried about healthcare, the environment, growing inequality and greed, and quality of life for common Americans. Bernie Sanders got on Instagram this morning and said,
This is going to be a tough day for millions of Americans, including myself. But we cannot throw up our hands in despair. We have to fight back as effectively and as vigorously as we can. We are not giving up.
I realize that some of you may be really offended that I've chosen to touch politics here on Swiss Lark. And if you're a Trump supporter, I know that a lot of what Trump says can sound really good: Lofty ideals, Unity, Make American Great Again! But, since his election, his actions have spoken louder than his words. His cabinet picks are divisive, he has attacked news and media outlets and suggested that intelligence agencies are incompetent. I fear that insular rhetoric and nationalism are going to reign large in a Trump presidency. And I am worried for the future. I'm just not quite sure how to fight back effectively and vigorously yet.

So, I'll leave you with these two fantastic, insightful, intelligent links:

The Internal Invasion, by David Brooks.

Requiem for the American Dream, with Noam Chomsky.

Thank you for reading. xo

(Illustration via Maira Kalman)


10 comments:

  1. <3 I think it is great that you chose to write about this here.

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  2. When it comes to the environment, the most effective actions that will truly change things for the better are not the government policies but the choices within the individual's grasp. Reduce your consumption and you reduce all the hidden environmental costs of production (and on a large enough scale it reduces demand). What is within your means obviously varies depending on location and personal circumstances but even a small change adds up. My newest change is to take a cloth bread bag (I sewed up a tea towel I already had) to the bakery for my bread to be packed in instead of a plastic bag. It's not quite a solid habit yet but I'd say we are already at 50% of the time. I've also switched from everyday shampoo to every 2nd day. Neither change is huge nor perfect but I think we overlook and dismiss these small ways to reduce our impact so often. (Some other longstanding things that work for my family: we have chosen to live in urban areas where we don't need a car, we never drink bottled water, we use cloth napkins/hankies, we practice EC (part-time) with our babies, when we need to buy something like clothes, toys, or kitchen items, we check our local thrift shop first). Best wishes to your family to find hope.

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  3. I think in anyone's corner of the internet, they should be able to say what they want and that other people should respect it because it's not their corner, it is yours. I, like you, have been having a tough day and was incredibly inspired by that Bernie quote from this morning. We are in for a tough 4 years, but like Bernie said, we're not giving up!

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  5. This post speaks to me on many levels. I also studies Political Science and I've lived in Europe, Australia and now the US. The differences are difficult to explain to people but when I left Europe I couldn't stop talking about the way certain cultures did things. (I totally annoyed everyone in my family) As a mother of three I'm concerned about the current state of politics. I haven't touched on politics on my own blog, but it's getting harder to stay apolitical... Thanks for your honesty.
    Helen
    Les Petits Gazette 

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  6. Thank you for being so open about politics. As a German who has studied in the US and who has met plenty of smart, liberal, tolerant Americans it is hard to watch the news these days and even harder to understand why so many people have actually voted for Trump. I JUST DON'T GET IT! And at the same time, my heart goes out to all of you who speak against him and his racist and misogynist ideas. This too shall pass, I just hope the wreckage he leaves is not too great. Keep up the good spirit and again, thanks for talking about politics, it's rare enough. Best wishes!

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  7. Hugs, friend! Bernie supporters over here (and huge Noam Chomsky admirers), and one of the hardest things I am dealing with is knowing people I love and respect voted for Trump. I just want to scream to them, "I have never worried about being brown, or my son being brown, in this country until now! And you voted for him!" Watching women all over the world march on Saturday was inspiring, but I still feel very hopeless and powerless.

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  8. Thank you for adding your voice. As a feminist, Christian, and patriot, I am horrified by what I'm seeing happen to my beloved country. We cannot keep silent.

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  9. Thanks for all the comments and encouragement, everyone. It means so much! xoxo

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