I don’t know if it’s the one year anniversary of the T-rex, and/or if it’s so many women speaking up in the face of revelations of widespread sexual predation, or just a year+ worth of anxiety, frustration, and anger that’s built up in America. Though most of us are exhausted and maybe less inclined to talk politics to each other in person, I swear to God, there’s more than the usual amount of online opining.
I’ve glanced at the latest articles about the idiot-in-chief (and berated myself for name-calling, especially on FB, even if he is…), and articles about the DNC. I’ve contemplated writing a word or two in response, then decided I can’t bear to be in the midst of more conflict. It’s enough I feel conflict between myself and Trump supporters or people who don’t seem to care at all.
I don’t feel up to returning to the fray of Us v. Them re: Dems who supported Hillary v. Bernie, or vice versa, what Donna Brazile was or wasn’t up to, or how compromised or not the DNC is, was, or ever will be. I need an internal conflict free zone, where I can return to rest when I’m weary. Like now. I’m up to over my eyeballs with conflict. I’m raising my white flag.
I’m happy that whoever possibly can be, is still on the case of sorting things out in any and/or all arenas, speaking up and out, and generally attempting to push our nation and species in a wiser and kinder direction. Your work is amazing and creative and I’m grateful there are a lot of you. I bow to each and every one.
Speaking of eyeballs and edges (oh, weren’t we? Anyway…) I read a post by Courtney E. Martin last week that kind of put me over my edge. A number of friends I admire and respect liked it on Facebook, so I was sure I would too. Courtney is an articulate, honest, and gutsy young truth teller. When I do read her (at On Being’s website), normally I am astonished at so much wisdom in one so young. Usually I resonate up the wazoo.
But this post, it made me feel weary. Not that I disagreed in particular with anything she wrote. It all seemed maximally politically correct, pointing out the work each of us needs to take on to help un-do the mess our nation has created. Still, I was exhausted by the end of the page. And it wasn’t a long page. It’s one thing to find myself in conflict with the liar-in-chief, his cabinet, the GOP, sexist men, and white supremacists. I haven’t the heart or fortitude at the moment to feel myself at odds with Courtney — and yet I did.
I have spent my life in one way or another trying to shape-shift and redeem my way out of the unfair privilege I was born to: white skin, working, then middle class, American, and the imperfections I was conditioned to: a sense of female inferiority, timidity, self-doubt, not having high enough goals, being under-motivated, self-soothing with momentary pleasures of escape of the sexual variety when I was younger, and then, of the food variety once the hormones ceased raging. As well as hiding or minimizing the things that made me a target, being Jewish, being lame, being in conflict with the powers that be and often enough with the Left as well.
There is so much work to do, and will be for a long time. Probably forever, given our species — our greed, hatred, and delusion, as the Buddha put it — and our inclination toward the othering and subjugation of those different from one’s self. It’s important that as citizens living in the most diverse society ever, we take responsibility, we actively participate in this democracy (ill as it is). In this vein, I found this article interesting (titled “Why I’ve Started to Fear My Fellow Social Justice Activists” by Frances Lee).
Suffering is part of the human condition, for everyone. Comparing degrees of suffering is not productive. There IS white skin privilege, and we need to take responsibility in a variety of ways to deal with its historical and ongoing harmful impact. But privilege is also a complicated and slippery concept. Skin color is not its only basis. I believe that judging anyone based on their skin color is problematical and divisive.
If we don’t check our selves, we can easily get to where Katha Pollitt finds herself in this article on self-righteous anger. (btw, I made her to-be-hated list because though I voted for Hillary in the election, it was not with great enthusiasm, because, yes, in my heart I believed Bernie the better candidate.)
I love how Ta-Nehisi Coates explains how we can be intelligent in the way we use language. He is kind and direct, and just makes sense. He doesn’t other; in fact he speaks to our particular, as well as common experiences, and appeals to our capacity to understand, rather than a perceived incapacity.
The women’s movement, in its early days (the late sixties) used to say the personal IS political. This is obviously true, especially as we watch, not in surprise, but with deep dismay, the wide-ranging revelations of sexual harassment, intimidation, rape, coercion, and complicity among powerful (and less powerful) men wielded mostly against women and girls, and also against some men and boys. We watch with amazement at the possible beginning of a campaign to bring this to an end, keeping our fingers crossed for a hope we almost dared not imagine. For me, the question is how we can speak up and out, and work toward our truly common and humane goals, acknowledging and accepting responsibility without at the same time blaming, guilt-tripping, and othering those whose path toward change may be different. I want to know, how can strong also be gentle? Clarity, kind? We are ALL in tremendous danger and on a steep learning curve.