All the fireworks in the world can’t distract from the reality of what’s happening right now in our country. We can no longer call ourselves the United States of America when the divide between our citizens continues to grow. Two Supreme Court decisions, while anticipated, landed with a bombshell this past week, leading to public demonstrations in major cities. While we continue to absorb the full impact of what these decisions will mean, we can’t ignore that the reactions vary widely. One side is celebrating, the other, in despair. Where do we go from here?
This is what I now see:
Several friends have told me they are thinking of moving, not to another state, but to another country. Australia, Canada, Italy have been mentioned. Is moving away, running away the answer? Some may find peace that way, not having to wake up to headlines that roil the stomach. But what happens in the U.S. makes news all over the world. You can run, but won’t be able to hide, especially if you leave friends and family behind to continue the fight on their own.
I’ve heard family and friends talk about the conflict between red states and blue states. If your political beliefs align with one group of states, you don’t want to live in or visit the others. Yes, we know that Texas Republicans want to leave the union. Someone said to me this weekend that they hate Texas, never want to visit there again. But how do you erase an entire state? What about friends who live there? A great state that has given us presidents, film stars, sports stars, leaders, and Texas barbecue? Houston and Austin are great, so is it OK to visit those cities and avoid the others? Perhaps there’s a business opportunity here for travel agents, mapping out excursions that fit with one’s politics.
Families are being torn apart. The pandemic produced enough ammunition for all those family battles during the holidays. Whether to be vaccinated, wear a mask, stay inside, avoid large gatherings. Now those family fissures have widened. What happens when a young woman faces an unplanned pregnancy and turns to her family for help? What will that help look like? If she’s rejected by her family, will she find the support she needs to make a decision about her future? And if someone helps her obtain an abortion, does that help mean a relative could be placed in jail?
Will our musical tastes be affected? Already Pink has told those who oppose abortion that they should stop listening to her music. Will other entertainers follow? Will we make our cultural choices based on politics – if some of us are not already doing that? J.K. Rowling has come out against transgender individuals. So should we stop reading Harry Potter books? Not go to see the Broadway production? Perhaps going back to oldies, a time when politics didn’t interfere so much in what we listened to or read, might be a path forward.
Religion is being injected into the public discourse with an unbelievable amount of hubris. No one wants to be lectured when they go to worship. Many are now finding it difficult to practice their faith. Those who are quick to claim that God is on their side, no matter what the political issue may be, insult God. Whenever a baseball player hits a home run and looks to the heavens to thank God, I have to laugh. As much as I like to believe God is a Yankee fan, he’s not. He has better things to do, bigger prayers to answer. Anyone who pretends to know what God is thinking, who speaks for a deity, whether God, Jesus, Buddha, or Mohammed, is arrogant. We’re all sinners and no one really, truly knows what happens when we die. Those who believe that one’s political record will open the gates of heaven may be in for a shock when those gates slam shut.
We have to make our voices heard at the ballot box. The midterms are critical. Will people be motivated to vote? Will people be able to vote in areas that are experiencing voter suppression? And will we see a repeat of 2020, when a legitimate election was declared stolen?
We have a long road ahead. I’m struggling to find a way forward. I’m still watching the news, but trying hard not to let politics dictate my interactions with those around me. I’m forcing myself to listen as much as possible, but I also know there’s little to be gained by engaging with those whose minds are closed. Self care is still important and the only way to survive these dark days is to find as many ways as possible to let in the light. Read a good book, go for a long walk, visit with a close friend, cuddle with a pet, enjoy a good dinner. And hold onto the thought that our country has seen worse, much worse in its history. This too, will pass. Or at least, I hope it will.
Top photo: Bigstock