Eclipsed

Often blogging feels like a chance to pick my head up to the thoughts floating around, to look more closely at them and explore what they might mean.

But right now, every time I look up, the only things I seem to see all around me are either the violent attacks that happen somewhere new every day, or the US Presidential election and its rhetoric of fear and division. I can’t seem to make any sense of it.

I find myself scouring the newspaper looking for something that will happen to make it all go away. I keep wishing it’s just some sort of bad dream.

I read articles about the perspective of poor rural whites to try to understand where all of their anger is coming from, knowing that on some level I must be out of touch, I must be failing my own proximity test since I’m not seeing what they are seeing.

I struggle to convince myself that supporting a candidate who spews racism, sexism, hatred and demagoguery doesn’t mean that a person is, on some level, open to racism, sexism and demagogues. I struggle to put out of my mind that in every single society that descended into institutionalized violence and genocide – every single one – the first step is always a gradual normalization of hate speech perpetuated by a strong leader promising salvation.

And I can’t help but be inspired, and feel hopeful, when I hear folks like Cory Booker proclaim that we cannot be a country where we simply tolerate each other, we must be a country where we love each other – and love isn’t always pretty or easy, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fierce.

I cannot help but feel emotion when Michelle Obama speaks with fiery, motherly pride in describing her daughters playing on the lawn of a White House that was built by slaves.

I feel like on some level I must be a little bit blind, because right now I’m seeing lots of absolutes. Right now I am failing miserably to make sense of the bile, hatred and fear that is so appealing to so many – including the anger of the Bernie supporters, which feels both short-sighted and self-defeating.

I’d like to believe that I’m aware of at least some of my own privilege, and that this awareness helps me recognize some of the things I cannot see – but, of course, I too am prone to exaggeration.

Mostly, I’m coming up very short on answers.

I really, truly believe that this country was founded on a set of fundamental values, that “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

Yes, indeed, it is self-evident!

What this means to me is that there is an inviolable set of values that we share as Americans. And if these values are inviolable, then they come first, no matter how messed up everything else is.

And what that means to me is that when anyone, on either end of the political spectrum, is happy to trample on those values – daily, publicly, unabashedly, and without a shred of remorse – then we, most of us, nearly all of us, should be calling them out as frauds and as un-American, no matter what else we also believe.

What am I missing?

8 thoughts on “Eclipsed

  1. That most of us that were raised “white”, were indoctrinated deep into “white”. We also lived in predominately homogeneous white neighborhoods, segregated “white” and never had to experience systemic injustice like people of color. And, with that, white becomes the only right… simply because it’s all you know. Then, you add individualism and exceptionalism. Once that starts working for you and you’re comfortable… well, the separation gets even deeper and socio-economic. You’re prosperous, so why even have deep, non-white friendships? Diversity is only a concept that you are told you should now embrace. Yet, many don’t have margin for civic engagement, let alone making friendships with folks not like them… I see clearly how so much of this has happened in this country. It’s how I was raised.

    Choosing to live in an urban, socio-economic and culturally blended neighborhood as an adult has been the thing that has changed me and my world view… yet, many still have no desire to even choose that. It’s rarely always comfortable.

  2. Thank you – yes exactly. Where I’m stuck is: of course it’s challenging, but aren’t these the words in our founding documents that we all say we believe it?

  3. What are you missing? Absolutely nothing . . . we’re all feeling the intense pain of being at societal inflection point where change is not only needed, it’s pertinent to our survival . . . in areas like social & economic inequality, environment/climate change and diversity acceptance among many others. The time is now for action as apathy did not work.

  4. Sorry, I guess the point of my little pontification was that many seem to justify our heritage of qualifying humans and living otherwise in our segmented American work, family & social communities/systems. As example, our Declaration counted slaves 3/5 human; yet, I was scolded last week that that particular statement was for tax purposes only! Really?… We have some confused prevailing dominant culture mindsets, including believing Law = Justice. To me, deeper thinking and trend-setting around wholistic American lifestyles and collaboration for the common good seem key.

  5. Yes, yes! Let alone all “men” are created equal. Can we not get to a point where our essential shared humanity is a given?

  6. Yet, what action?? I see people that I thought were pretty intelligent embracing this attitude of hatred and intolerance in a scary new way that I would never, six months ago, have believed of them. And I certainly understand that the alternatives aren’t perfect or maybe even acceptable, but what action can now be taken? I’ve seen numerous articles and posts indicating that the worst things Hillary is accused of are simply not true or do not really stem from her doing, yet the stream of vitriol aimed at her from an entire population that doesn’t care to check its facts is alarming and terrifying.

    Usually in an election where I don’t agree with a candidate, even one that gets elected, I am able to say, “Fundamentally this won’t affect my personal life much, and it will all swing the other way in 4-8 years.” This time, though, I’m terrified that there will be nothing to swing back from. In less than four years Hitler declared war on the world, devastated a continent, and set Germany back for decades. All because someone gave the nation an excuse to be bad-mannered, hateful and intolerant. That kind of permission isn’t something you can grant to people, but they’ve run with it nevertheless.

    I don’t know what you’re missing, Sasha, but if you find it will you tell us so that we can act, too? Education isn’t doing it, being extra generous with my own kindness isn’t doing it, argument isn’t doing it, something must restore normalcy or at least a semblance of it. I don’t think hate is the answer. It can’t be.

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