Thursday, November 10, 2016

If You Have to Ask, You'll Never Know

I can't stop writing about this, because I can't stop thinking about it. And if you read this blog you already know. I'm in a state of despair, brought on by our country's facile willingness to shoot itself in the civic face. I know a lot of you reading this feel the same way. You already know we have crossed the Rubicon from the realm of politics and sore losing into something much more significant.

I also know a lot of you don't believe that, and maybe you never will, and that's okay. I want to know what you're saying and thinking. I refuse to help construct my own isolationist echo chamber by pushing buttons and looking away.

But it's like that Red Hot Chili Peppers song, "If you have to ask, you'll never know." If you have to ask why I'm despairing that we elected an intellectually stunted boor with a sixth grade vocabulary who is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, has never led a thing in his life other than his hands into a beauty pageant contestant's pants, managed to lose billions of dollars on liquor and casinos, and has made this country uglier and less safe in 18 months than it's ever been in living memory, then I guess you'll never know.

It also means you live in an insulated bubble of straight white people. "Do you hate me because I voted for Trump?" a black woman recalled a conversation with a neighbor. Her answer: "No, do you hate ME because you voted for him?" 

Good question. 

But that's okay. I don't need you to know. You'll find out for yourselves soon enough, and believe me, I'll take no pleasure in it when you do. Donald Trump will make you a millionaire and transform microchips into six figure jobs for everyone the day he calls me a ten and flies me to Mars in his gold-plated private jet.

In the meantime, I'm looking inward at my own naiveté and realizing how spoiled and asleep I have been. How stupid I was to blithely assume I would never live to see a real civic dilemma in this country, like every generation before us has at one point in time. You can't go on living in a world of Molly Ringwald movies forever. People of color have known that since they knew they had color. I'm embarrassingly late to that party, but I'm here now and I am fucking wide awake.

I'm remembering the words of an old friend, a little younger than me, also Jewish, as it happens, who lost nearly his whole family in a plane crash in his early 20s. He knows shock and grief on a very real, acute, and personal level, and here was his reaction to this election:

Don't be scared. I'm not. People wanted change. This is what happens when they turn to a movement they don't really understand. This country has survived a civil war, presidents who couldn't find a sentence with two hands and a flashlight, race riots and depressions. It's going to be ugly for awhile, but this country is still a special place.
If he's not scared, a person who has known such real and terrifying suffering, then fuck it. Neither am I. And for the truth of that, I need look no farther than the conference I attended with Paige's wonderful teacher this morning. The card Paige made. The poem she wrote. And the poster in her classroom hallway.

It's easy to hate. It takes strength to be kind. I'm going to honor my kids, my community, and my country by showing up for them in love, strength, and kindness, every day. On this blog, on the phone, and definitely in real life.

Because without that, we lose our humanity.  And in the end, our humanity is all each of us has to hold onto.


  1. The thing is, none of this is new. Everything that has unfolded is an unpacking of ancient ways of being that were always just below the surface and now renascent. I felt a little like you once but that was back in the 60-70's and the VietNam days. My skin is considerably thicker now so as awful as this is, it is not (today) the end of the world. Generally, the people who put The Orange One in control felt as depressed as you do now while they were under the oppression of The Black Satan. The how and what of that polar dynamic is what interests me the most. All of this will pass and yes it might be awful. But, we got what we paid for in this world of Tweet. That word tweet can be used as the most deliciously ironic metaphor in all of history. "I lived the life of Tweet!" "Damn, I Tweeted my life away and loved myself while at it!" And so on.

    I actually think that the timing was perfect in that it is my belief that under the happy face the world economy is quite ill and no amount of manipulation will right the baked-in imbalances. Just two weeks ago the headline was whether or not the GOP would survive Trump and now they are all lined up to suck his cock. I think when the mils (my kids group) finally wake up to how really fucked they are, it's gonna be a whole different ball game. So it is by default, after a comical attempt to recreate the Jackson White House, saner adults will ruthlessly take the toys away. The fact of the matter is, the party of Jackson utterly tweetingly failed. Now all us smart people get to live with a SCOTUS from the same Jackson era, in my case, for the rest of my life. "We have met the enemy and they are...."

  2. Thank you both for your perspectives. Very grounding at a time when I need it!


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