Recoiling From The “New Normal”

It’s been challenging to write anything “publishable” on this blog since the 2016 presidential election. I’ve vacillated between being in shock and at a loss for words, or raging in a series of expletives with zero cohesion or clarity. This is not the kind of writing I like to generate, much less share with the world.

I recognize that I am in grief. And every day there is a new trauma to process. The Russians. Syria. North Korea. The EPA. The positions in the State Department that remain unfilled. The Supreme Court opening that has been filled. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Our system of government is not perfect, but it has been a beacon to other parts of the world, and we have been able to set an albeit imperfect example to those who yearn for equality and justice and safety and sanity. I say “imperfect” because there’ve been many times when our leaders have said one thing and done another. There are quite a few countries in Central and South America, not to mention Southeast Asia and the Middle East, OK, most of the world, where our government was acting more in the interests of the powerful percent’s economic interests than in the interests of democracy. We could be as hypocritical as the despots we were criticizing. The greed and the corruption is nothing new.

But THIS IS new. THIS is unsettling in a different way because the guy in charge doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing, nor does he seem to care enough to figure it out. THAT’s scary.

And I do my best to not DO scared. I try to shed light on the gravest of situations. I try to identify the good in everything, because by Goddess, there IS good in everything. But you have to be willing to look for it sometimes. It’s not always served up for us on a silver platter.

So here’s the good: although I was looking forward to saying I’d voted for the first female president of the United States, in a way it’s a gift to us that she lost. Because I don’t believe we would have been as motivated to RISE UP! if she’d won. It would have been the same old same old. Not such a shock. Certainly not a situation that would have kept me up at night shuddering over whose finger is on what button.

I’ll admit it; I might have remained lackadaisical.

And now? No way, no how.

For the past years I’ve written mostly about recovering from horrible loss and illness, and adjusting to new realities. “Leaning Into A New Normal” is what I recently called it. But this? This is not normal and this is not right. And even if it WERE normal, it is not a normal I want to lean into. If anything, I am recoiling from it, the way I would from an over-the-top gory scene in a way too realistic horror flick.

Every day since the morning after the election I have read or heard  or watched yet another unfathomable revelation come to light about #45 and his merry band of family members and big-buck donor misfits, and I find myself assuming the universal posture of shock: mouth slightly agape, eyes popping out of my head, unable to move or utter a sound, my head slowly shaking “no.” Because we are living a travesty of epic proportions.

This is not just sour grapes. Sour grapes was when George W. stole the election from Gore. This is terror with a hefty helping of rage, which I clearly need to channel into activism, or I might as well throw in the towel and give up on the health of the planet, and the rights of every disenfranchised group ever, and the possibility of reducing corruption in government, and the hope that “nuclear winter” doesn’t have to become part of my lexicon again.

It hasn’t even been 100 days and I’m tired. Maybe this is part of the diabolical plan: to wear us down until we are too exhausted to march, too stunned to think clearly and effectively, too overwhelmed to tap into our own power and our own voices. It has been a roller-coaster ride for almost three months, and honestly, I find myself wanting to get off. I go two or three days without watching Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow, or scrolling through Facebook.

Otherwise, it’s a new shock every day. “Un-f’ing-believable,” I’ve heard myself say every single day since January 20th.

At what point is it time to up the ante and change my strategy? How will I know when marching, signing petitions, making phone calls, showing up at Town Halls to hold my elected representatives’ feet to the fire is no longer having enough of an effect? Then what?

It’s not as if the government hasn’t already turned against us! Look at Standing Rock. Look at the slow, behind-closed-doors rollbacks of regulations that were put in place to protect us? Do we have to be loaded onto trains and transported against our will to God only knows where before we start fighting in a different way?

The truth is, I am not a fighter. But I find myself asking, “At what point would I be willing to take up arms, the way our Founding Fathers did, for the values they held dear, or will I have to wrestle with the question of putting my body on the line in non-violent resistance?”

These are the questions keeping me up at night.

Here’s what I know for sure: this is not normal. THIS IS NOT NORMAL!

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