I flew to Los Angeles yesterday to spend a few days helping my mom — and my siblings — with her ongoing recovery from a broken shoulder and a fractured knee. That fall two weeks ago was no joke; recovery is always such hard work. I found her to be a little better than I expected in some ways, but not so much in others. I think, in this, we have a long road ahead of us.
I continue to be on the verge of tears, emotional and distraught from the results of 11/9. I realized last night that so much of what I’m feeling is rooted in the same sense of fear and dread I had after another fateful day, a day that shares the same digits, just in a different order. I don’t buy any of the “get over it” rhetoric. As much as I have wanted to give our new president the benefit of the doubt, his behavior and his choices in recent days have left me with very little generosity in my heart.
I’ve been vocal about my feelings on FB, but rather than continue to post my shock and awe, I’m going to put on my objective reporter hat (yes, I have a degree in journalism; I am trained to see both sides of the story and to illuminate the actual facts). I want to look for ways to better understand what’s happening here, and whatever means we may have to effect change in the months ahead. I’m sure the law of averages would tell me that there are a number of people in my life who pulled the lever for him (though I don’t know for sure because I’ve had no one approach me directly to explain why they think this president is a viable choice), but I believe the only way forward for me is to somehow get my feet on the path of better understanding. I don’t really know if I am capable of this, but I’m going to try. I want to embrace the dignity and class of our outgoing administration. I want to go high when they go low. But make no mistake, I’m still fired up and ready to go. And I will not stand quietly in the face of injustice.
That said, I’m not quite ready to let go of the grief. November has been a slap in the face, a beat down of so many things I’ve come to take for granted. I need time. I need space. Recovery is hard work. I plan to focus my efforts in the coming days on supporting organizations like the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Emily’s List. When a single party controls the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial), we need watchdogs with the muscle and the power to hold things in check. I hope, too, that somewhere in this mess, a new-age Woodward and Bernstein will rise above the media ranks, that newsrooms will stand up to their corporate owners and personal bias to simply report the news. I don’t need a talking head on TV or a front page story to tell me what to think. I need them simply to present the facts so I can think for myself.
I also plan to use this historical moment to educate my son in the hope that his generation can do better. We’ve had countless discussions in recent days about the difference between fact and fiction, about how you have to dig deep, find sources you can trust. The internet has no filter, so much of what is reported, so much of what sways public opinion to the right or to the left is not based on facts. Misleading headlines, click bait and Wikipedia have become the norm. Everyone has an agenda and a means for promoting it. If we buy into everything we read without really doing our homework, we’ll never break the cycle of misinformation.
Still, the most important lesson I can teach my son — and one that can only come from my own example — is that compassion and empathy, kindness and a generosity of spirit are the North Star. It’s okay to grieve for what has been lost, but we must ultimately find our way home. Just as violence and hate breed more of the same, so too does love. I want him to know we are stronger than this. We are better than this. Hope is a fragile thing, a small bird with feathery wings. It’s impossible to hold onto, but we must never stop trying.