Friday, August 18, 2017

American Depression: The Struggle is Real

Last week, I went to Minneapolis to meet up with my mom and spend a weekend with three cousins Paige and I had never met before. We did a bunch of touristy things around the city, and took a sunset boat ride on the Mississippi River, where I snapped this picture. 

The elephant in the room all weekend was Donald Trump. He was (and is) ever-present in everyone's mental landscape, if only because he wakes each day determined to make a spectacle of himself at the expense of everything else, including national security and unity. 

They knew we couldn't stand him, and we knew they'd probably voted for him, so we just didn't go there, which is fine. I think it's destructive to engage in arguments with my fellow Americans (much less my family) about President Trump (God, it still hurts to type that). Pointing fingers, blaming each other, attacking each other: It's self-destructive. It's unproductive. And it serves to yank on threads that further unravel us.

But the depression and the struggle is real. 

We have long ago crossed the Rubicon from "politics" to a genuine civic crisis, and we need all hands on deck to resolve and survive it. Yet there must be a balance between staying informed and active, and not completely burning out and crawling into a hole of depression over the tone Trump is setting in America and the utter havoc his administration has wreaked on us in less than a year.

Scholars of fascism and authoritarianism warned us this would happen, and as it all unfolds it still feels impossible. I know I think about this too much and it feels unhealthy. But I am a Jew, a woman, and a human being in this body, on this planet, with two children.

I can't help it. 

I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is open Twitter to see what sort of crazy Trump unleashed on the world from his Android overnight. I spend much of the next hour panicky and sad, until I distract myself with the mundane machinery of everyday life: helping the kids get ready for school, getting out the door, sitting down at my desk and burrowing into my work.

Everyday life goes on, as it did (and does) for the citizen-victims of every country that was ever squeezed in the abusive grip of a dangerous megalomaniac. Except now it's us, and finding an anchor of sanity and purpose amid chaos and misery feels harder with each passing day, and with each affront to our democratic norms and our national moral fabric.

American depression: the struggle is real.

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