I try to avoid waxing political because I don’t want to say things that might upset people close to me. I don’t mean family because on both sides your family is currently horrified by our state of government. Rather, I am talking about people in my social circle and career network that are part of what I see as “the other side” when it comes to viewing their facebook posts or hearing what they have to say on our spicy current events. I try to remain respectfully terse as my network is my lifeline, so I need to maintain that network as a means to my livelihood. However, these past couple of months are causing me countless sleepless nights and the thoughts that follow are the thoughts that plague me during those quiet hours.
You will learn about The Civil War. This was when the South fought against the North. It was mostly a geographical thing as the lifestyle of a rural agrarian culture that relied on slave work butted up against the industrial abolitionist lifestyle of the North. The South aligned together and attempted to succeed from the Union. The Civil War was a monster atrocity that pitted extended family members against each other on opposite sides of the gap. But that gap was almost a physical thing, at least the way I understand it, where one knew when they had crossed into “The South.”
I sincerely believe that we are in a civil war now, but rather than being split by something like a single major issue such as slavery, we are now split in many many fragments: from urban to rural issues, rich to poor, educated to uneducated, employed to unemployed, insured to uninsured, women to men, established legal citizen to illegal immigrant, faith-based to atheist, pro choice to pro life, open-minded to un-closeted racist/sexist/fascist. We are conservative, or moderate, or liberal. We are red or blue. This country, the Union stretching from sea to shining sea, is a fractured mess and capable of so much better than what we have become. Where we were once a superpower, grand nation of big thinkers, bold actions, and proud patriots, we have become a land that has allowed the rich to get richer and poor to get poorer. In other words, we have allowed these many gaps to fester and rot and grow wider and deeper. It seems impossible for someone who is my peer in all ways except their political views, to see things from my eyes and vice versa. Like Atticus Finch suggested, we can’t really step into someone else’s shoes anymore. We try, but it is obvious how we fail.
Last night there was a story on the impending health care reform that featured two families. One family has benefitted from Medicaid for their highly disabled and very sick son. Another family with a developmentally disabled son of the same age has seen their insurance premiums soar and want something new. The current political scene is a perfect example of these gaps and the mess of what our grand democratic experiment is attempting to sort out. When you look at what people are fighting over with regards to health care alone it seems impossible to have a plan that would fit all. The poor are provided for at a cost to rich; the rich receive breaks at the expense of the poor. I still fear about cutting mental health as I believe this is a time when we need it the most. I have personally experienced a huge surge of anxiety and sleeplessness outside of the impact of pregnancy. This one bill and the outcome of the vote will most certainly set a wheel in motion that will continue to play out not only in the lives of the millions of people whose world it will impact, but also in the shape of our government. This bill is really about political party power struggles too. There is a sense of urgency that really shouldn’t be there until the bill is strong. We are told that it is good, but that is from one side. All of the things that the GOP complained about from the original bill years ago, are the very things that they are doing now. It seems like we are not learning from our past at all. It feels to me that we are haunted by our past. I think we are even haunted by the fall of the Roman Empire.
Can our American democracy survive? I wish I could say that I think it can, but I wonder if it isn’t already too late and we have slid into this gray area where we think we are still democratic when in reality we are living some aristocratic “let’s pretend we are democratic” pretend game. Even though we are granted freedoms, we are steered in general. Freedom is a fuzzy concept and power is what matters…and those who have power do not want to give it up or spread it around. Power struggles are the stuff of strained societies and that is more true than ever right now. I am talking in a lot of vague terms because I am a student of Literature and not a PolySci major. I see overarching themes, conflicts, and tropes. I try to pull back from my personal involvement and see a big picture. I try to think for myself by investigating both sides of the coin. Most importantly, I try to always remain empathetic. I am not always successful at this, but I try. In doing so, I still read a lot. One of the books I just finished is Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” – which whether you liked it or not, seems to be rather timely reading for this Civil Fracturing that we are experiencing. The free-spirited Scout returns to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama at the time of Brown vs. the Board of Ed and as a resident who stepped away from the environment she was raised in, escaping to New York City, she has a different and new lens to see her childhood town for the racist hotbed that it is. She is traumatized and sickened to see people she adored for the compromised humans they actually are. In “To Kill a Mockingbird” Atticus is a super-human noble man; a father-of-the-century with examples of excellent parenting to be used as a play book even today. This is completely turned upside down when Scout visits him in “Go Set a Watchman.” He isn’t perfect and her realization of that wrecks her. Scout’s upheaval with the pain of realizing the truth of her situation is what I felt like waking up to the 2016 Election results…..the blinders came off and I realized that this country which so many of my grandparents’ generation died for and sacrificed unimaginable ways for is one effffed up mess. That people who functioned together on a surface level were alien to one another on an hidden ideological plane. My blinders were off and I was immediately ill with trauma and terror. I want to blink it all away, but it is impossible. We, as Americans, can not brush the mess under the carpet anymore. And by dragging this out into the light of day we are seeing the labels, the distrust, the rifts. I had hoped that our country could unite to meet and rise above the greater global challenges that will inevitably face us in the immediate future. However, we are not strong enough to worry about the very big picture because we are missing our skeleton here at home. We are completely turned inward to deal with the gigantic storm of separation. And with today’s health care vote, with the travel ban, with investigations, with rallies and protests, with threats and acts of violence we can do nothing but fight one fire after another. This is not partisan. This is truly a test of America’s ability to beat a invasive, fatal disease – or at least treat it to the point of achieving some type of stability. To say that I feel unstable in our current political environment is a huge understatement. I think that there are things I can do, we can do together, to effect change and have a voice….but it feels like there is so much to attempt. It reminds me of the boy who tried to plug a hole in a damn only to have leaks start elsewhere. You need community, united in a common cause, to really take care of that. While this climate has inspired awesome political activism and awareness, there are so many things to fight for and causes are still not common enough, therefore the energy is spread over those many, many gaps and labels. The intensity and pace of this movement is also fueling opposition. Again, in trying to keep up at the speed that events are unfolding, people do not have the time to educate and reflect on what is truly a wise move. It is like that scene in a western where two men are throwing punches at one another on a stage coach that is speeding toward a cliff. Will it matter who wins the fist fight when the carriage takes them over the edge?
You are being born into this storm. Don’t get me wrong, the world is indeed an amazing miracle where love and life can (and does) flourish. There will be days when a stunning sunrise, the story of some random act of kindness, the look of love you see in someone’s eyes melts away all of the socio-political angst and, in that moment of pure spirit essence, you are wrapped in the warmth of being blessed. I get that…even now as I look out the window to a lovely Spring day and feel you move. Yes, our world is completely ripe for miracles and the potential for humanity to unite and achieve amazing things. It is that sense of hope that keeps me believing in a better tomorrow, even while that stagecoach is speeding toward the ravine.
Can we make progress and achieve strength while all of this political strife mires us in fear and disgust? Maybe. I think it comes down to leadership (not necessarily by a leader who has some official title) and empowered individuals who can fight for true truth in a fuzzy reality. What does that make me? What is my label? I can certainly put those stamps all over my profile, but why? I want to be enlightened. Can we have an enlightenment party? I am on that train, but since that train doesn’t exist here I will align myself with people who are intelligent, strong, empathetic, visionary, and truly kind. That last word always rings home the most. Kindness. Can’t our grand nation that is so wealthy, so powerful, and so far-reaching also be kind? I am just one person, a speck on the grand scale of time and scope of existence, but in all that remains of my legacy it is that I hope people will think that despite my flaws and my mistakes, despite my eccentrics and cerebral ramblings, whatever else I have been in life, most importantly I was kind. I know I am not alone in wanting this, and I think that being able to achieve this should be something that is a common cause that could unite a conservative and liberal, right? Or is that too sunny and abstract in the reality of a yes or no vote? I don’t know and I certainly don’t have answers…just a heck of a lot of questions and concerns.
This is what contributed to my massive bout of insomnia last night. Laying wide awake from 2 to 5:30 a.m. I need some solid sleep to compose my words better than this. However, I still just needed to write honestly about this tremulous time at the very start of your life. I hope we, as Americans, pull through. But like Scout, the realization of the situation was more just a battle scar of life. I guess I am documenting the battle then.
On a note from yesterday, you didn’t move enough for our NST. That is freaking me out kiddo. I still feel you move, like right now. The Braxton Hicks and pubic bone pain is just crazy at times. Walking is getting tougher and here is the thing….I love it. I finally think I look pregnant and man do I feel it. Since we are getting closer to your due date, I am just happy to have these moments to remember.
Okay I am posting this even though I just saw that the health care bill is not getting voted on. So, at least for the time being, there is no cosmic shift in the world today. So we shall see what happens in the fallout!