Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Present and the President

I've been writing about the past, ruminating on all the things I didn't talk about last year. There was a lot I didn't talk about last year. While my world was falling apart I just lost the ability to express it. As the world around me seemed to join in it became all a little bit too much.

There was a point where I was fairly convinced that after the election, when we knew it would all be okay, then, then, I would be able to write again. As I drank wine with friends and we watched the election unfold before us it became even more presently clear that things were not going to be easily made okay. There was no off button now. This was the world.

Last year I read a lot of books in an attempt to understand it. I read the novel It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. At the time, this quote struck me:

“The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his "ideas" almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.
Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill.” 

It was hard to read this and not think about the horrible rhetoric of the man that would be king. I was hopeful it would not be so. And then it was. The night of the election is one of the first times in over 20 years I've considered doing serious, fatal harm to myself. I was lost. It wasn't just the election, it was the mounting depression of an entire year in which the world seemed to fall apart.

Since then, it took some time but I finally found myself again. While writing over the last month I considered if I wanted to say anything about politics. I have so many feelings about politics and I don't want my writing to become nothing but politics. However, it is impossible to write at this time and fail to acknowledge the historical moment. I am living inside of this moment, and for better or worse, it is the stories of those caught up in historical times that help those that come later understand that times. With that in mind, I've decided to write my feelings and reactions when appropriate. I am not a political pundit. I'm not a journalist and my activism has always been fairly mellow. But I am a human alive in this moment, a woman, a latina, a bisexual, a pagan, an artist and educated educator. Now, I think it becomes part of my responsibility to contribute whatever I can to the ever growing narrative that will be a record of what happens now.

Yesterday was the Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is an important international holiday as it has history is recognizing the flight of Jewish immigrants trying desperately to leave Germany before Hitler really got things underway. The day itself was established to officially, and with some finality, promulgate that a) the Holocaust did happen b) six million Jews lost their lives. It is important to acknowledge the genocide of an entire people and how the world allowed that genocide to go to far before finally making an effort to stop it.

Sadly, on that same day 51 years later, a man who currently sits behind the desk of presidents and leaders failed to acknowledge the deaths of millions of Jews and issued an order to effectively bar immigrants and refuges of wars in which modern day genocide is currently being perpetrated from entry to this country. It's worse than that, of course, as this order included the banning of actual American citizens who hold green cards or dual citizenship with the selected banned countries. This includes military service members who placed their lives in harms way to earn American citizenship. The level of my disgust and outrage cannot be described.

I followed the news, trying to avoid it, wanting it to go away, again. Just stop. A judge issues an order and the thing is stopped but not really. The Department of Homeland Security has a taste of the power they have always wanted to manipulate lives. They refuse to follow the judges orders without a fight. The citizens stepped up and went to the airports to protest. There is outrage. There should be outrage. There is still not enough outrage yet. I think back to Sinclair Lewis and I recall
“Day on day he waited. So much of a revolution for so many people is nothing but waiting. That is one reason why tourists rarely see anything but contentment in a crushed population. Waiting, and its brother death, seem so contented.” 
The population is not crushed yet, but with the daily deluge of outrage after outrage I wonder how much more of it we can stand before we appear contented. I'm hopeful this will not happen. Soon I'll fly again and I admit to a small worry that with my Latina looks and my Latina last name that having my passport may not be enough on it's own to permit me re-entrance to America.

I'm worried.

It's a time of worry.

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