The Best and Worst of Times

How many times have I heard the first line of A Tale of Two Cities? I always thought I knew what it meant, but now I feel it in my bones.

For those of us who see the big picture, the last few months have been difficult. It’s been like watching a slow motion train wreck. We see the tracks are laid straight towards a mountainside, and yet everyone on the train is celebrating because they think they’re finally going somewhere. We screamed. We hollered. We jumped up and down and waved our hands, trying to stop the train before it slams into the wall, and for that we were ignored and ridiculed.

The right had to make up garbage to fear about Obama – He’s a secret Muslim from Kenya who is going to bring sharia law to the US, take our guns, create death panels to kill our parents, and build FEMA camps to put all his enemies in. Despite us being the creative types, liberals didn’t have to imagine any fears of 45. He laid out his vision for this country, which included taking away people’s health care with no idea how to replace it, banning people for the accident of their place of birth and religion, and if not banning them, then making them register so that when the country needs to deal with them, they know just where to find them. He at one point wanted to punish women who have faced a difficult decision about a pregnancy, and made the choice HE thinks is wrong, because we women should all be subjected to what HE thinks. He thinks the environment is only there to be raped and profited from by big business. And he wants to turn us into a nation with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a country that only thinks of itself and doesn’t care if we destroy other economies as long as we WIN! He has vowed to bring back torture, a policy that has never provided any actionable intelligence, but has created many, many enemies and endangered our troops. And as a cherry on top of the cake, he thinks nuclear weapons should be used if we have them.

He is a walking, talking, dystopian nightmare.

The damage these policies will do is immense and doesn’t take into account the damage that will be done by the policies of those pulling his strings. Those around him have learned it’s easy to control little donny… praise him and he’ll think you’re brilliant and listen to all your ideas. Criticize him and you’re going to be ridiculed, abused, and discarded. So, you want to privatize programs Americans have paid in to, and deserve to draw from… Paul Ryan just whispers sweet nothings in his ear, and voila… they’re working on plans to do away with the social safety net, despite 45’s promise to leave it alone. Easy peasy. He’s a puppet whose strings are pulled so easily.

We are becoming isolated in the world. Allies are not sharing intelligence. Trade deals are evaporating and becoming more difficult. If he continues on this path, we could face sanctions. Let’s hope it doesn’t go far enough that some other country decides we need regime change.

The despair is palpable among those who still believe in the promise of America – that all men (and women) are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not just those who look alike, think alike, love alike, and pray alike. All! Instead we’ve watched him dismantle the policies that protect our people and the environment. There are Nazis in the White House forming policy. I’ve tried to reach out for common understanding with the other side and the response seems to be, “We won, you lost. We’re right, you’re wrong. We don’t care about understanding.” So much for uniting the country. 45 is beginning to appear mentally unstable, and we’ve given that man the nuclear codes. I’ve heard silver-haired Americans say, “I’ve never been scared for my country like this before” and they lived through WWII. It feels like the worst of times.

Yet, despite this, it also the best of times. The Women’s March kicked it off. There is power in connection. There is power in unity. There is power in love. We who marched were drawn by the connection, unity, and love, then left completely empowered. We found our voice together. We found our purpose together. The sniping by the right couldn’t even take a dent out of it, probably because their criticisms were so off-base, and also because it was easy to see a tinge of exclusion and jealousy in their words. It’s okay. They enjoy their somewhat equal status because women like us marched for them, also with the criticism of conservative women of the time. Their granddaughters will thank us.

And our show of resistance led to the defiance of National Park employees, as well as other federal employees. Watching the rebellion grow was inspiring! It gave me hope like nothing else. The tyrant can sit in his high tower and issue all the decrees he wants, but if nobody follows them, he is nothing but a silly gas bag.

His most odious act so far, choosing to refuse the entry of refugees and others on National Holocaust Remembrance Day (but only from Muslim countries where he doesn’t do business) felt like a directive coming straight from Bannon and the alt-right(Nazis). It felt like a gut punch. And then we, the people, mobilized. The connections we’ve made allowed protests to spontaneously break out across the country in airport after airport. Americans of every color, size, and religious belief, stood side by side in defense of Iraqi translators, visiting relatives, and refugees who had spent two years being vetted, and were finally on the verge of safety.  The ACLU became our voice in the courts and stopped that atrocity for now.

The worst of times have woken us up to rediscover our connection to each other. It’s hammered in the lesson that democracy is not a spectator sport. We can’t just sit back and let politicians handle things. Without any leadership, we are bypassing the parties and finding each other and our power. We are talking. We are formulating plans. We are on the move. We are united. We are one. It is the best of times.

At our march, one speaker acknowledged that we were able to march that day because we stood on the shoulders of those who came before us. We called out their names in remembrance of their sacrifices. Standing there, I realized it was my turn to provide a place for future generations of women to stand. Our shoulders are needed. We have some very dark days ahead. The struggle is hardly won, but we know we will win because as MLK said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it inevitably bends toward justice. There will be losses and casualties ahead, yet I see hope. And rebellions are built on hope.

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Filled with Hate

Lately I’ve been noticing a trend. Here’s how it goes.

Alice: I like pizza.
Bob: I don’t like pizza, the cheese is too greasy, and they never get the crust right.
Alice: Why are you so filled with hate?

I’m sure you’ve noticed it too. Lately, when anyone disagrees with anyone else online, the response usually takes some form of telling them they are filled with hate. It’s the new way to shut someone down, and paint yourself as a loving, wonderful human being because you recognized their hate.

I read liberal sites and commenters all say, “Just like a Republican, full of hate.” Then I’ll read a conservative site and the commenters all say, “Just like a Democrat, full of hate.”

Here’s the definition of hate: strong or intense dislike

That’s it.

Guess what folks, people are allowed to like or dislike anything they want, even intensely. It’s America and there nothing wrong with liking or disliking something, at least for a few more months. It’s not surprising that Democrats and Republicans strongly dislike the other party’s ideas, otherwise we’d just have one party.

A friend hates the taste of onions. I LOVE onions. Still, not once have I accused her of being filled with hate.

I have friends who support Donald Trump. I don’t understand how. I don’t understand why. I simply don’t understand how they can’t see the racist, bigoted, thin-skinned, misogynistic, sociopathic, narcissistic bully that I and so many others see. I don’t understand how they can’t see him using the same playbook that Hitler and other authoritarian leaders have used. However, having said all that, I know them. They are not filled with hate. Misled, yes, in my opinion. Filled with hate, no.

I know women who are strong, independent women who are sick and tired of living under men’s rules, so they live by their own. They have been called man-haters, but they are not filled with hate towards men. Distrust, maybe. Hate, no. They love themselves enough to want the best for themselves. Nothing hateful about that.

Now, if you hate all men, or all women, or all blacks, or all whites, or all Mexicans, or all cops, or all Jews, or all Muslims, or all Christians, or all liberals, or all conservatives, or all gays, or all of anything, then yes, you are filled with hate. If you only know what you don’t like, and never talk about what you do like, then you are filled with hate.

It’s not just a harmless online trend. Accusing others of hate is a tactic that is creating an even bigger divide in the country. The person making the accusation stops listening, because why should they listen to someone so filled with hate. The other person not knowing how to deal with the irrationality of being called hateful, doesn’t want to continue the conversation either, or it devolves into really nasty name-calling. Nobody learns anything.

It’s like the political post where someone goes on a rant, calling people of the other party disgusting names like Libtard or Rethuglican. When I see a rant like that, I want to respond, “Oh thank you. Now that you’ve called me an offensive name, assumed I’m uneducated, uninformed, stupid, and lazy, NOW I’m on your side. Oh, what a relief.” The sad truth is, if we sat down face to face to have a meal together, we would probably have a lovely time. Online, it’s so much easier to hurt others when you don’t have to deal with the consequences.

Until we start talking and listening to each other, instead of trying to find new ways to shut each other down with the ultimate slam, this country is headed for a cliff. Frankly, I think we’re already there and sliding off the edge.

I hate that.

But I’m not filled with hate.

 

 

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