Today the crisp January air was invigorating. I enjoyed–enjoyed–multiple games of mini-table tennis with my youngest daughter over the weekend. We laughed. Her playful exaggerations and animated behavior FAILED to overwhelm me. Yet, two days before that I could not have made this statement. I wouldn’t have noticed the sky or the air. I probably wouldn’t have even gone through the motions of playing with my daughter. And I most certainly would have gotten annoyed by her fake-drama if I had. SO what changed?
Friday (1/20), my grayest day since the election, Trump was inaugurated. But Saturday, Saturday my world regained its color. And today, today the sky was a delicious, perfect blue, the kind of blue you doubt when you see it in a photograph the hue is so intense. But, Trump is still president, so what changed? Saturday January 21st Women Marched. And, they weren’t alone. Men, children, and people who identify as non-binary joined them. I even saw dogs carrying signs. Hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people swarmed to Washington DC, state capitols, and major cities throughout the US. People from remote locations joined those marchers via social media. And all around the world more and more gathered together to show their solidarity and their concern.
Until the March I had felt numb, emotionally drained and mentally in a fog. At first, I vacillated between rage and helplessness and later fell into doubt and fear. I wasn’t sure how to keep going, what I needed to do, if I could actually get up, go to work, and talk to people. I consumed more hours of Angry Birds than I care to admit wrestling with what a Trump presidency meant. Even though my personal world had not changed, my safe spaces felt suspect. I didn’t know who I could talk to without becoming angry, without offending someone, without falling apart. I wanted to find somewhere to hide but there was no place insulated enough.
In his Memoire, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl described his experiences during the Holocaust. After describing how much was lost by each of his fellow prisoners–their possessions, their clothing, their hair, their traditions, their names, he told his readers,
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way…
Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstances, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.
Obviously my circumstances are not nearly as bleak as Frankl’s yet, his words still ring true. I can choose my attitude toward my circumstances and toward my future. I have control of this one thing. After the election, across the country, people were shocked by the results of the election. Some, including me, experienced depression or grief. Personally, I felt like something had been stolen from me and I didn’t know how to get back. It took me 73 days to realize what it was, 73 days to recognize IT wasn’t taken from me; I had let it go. It sounds corny to call the thing HOPE and VISION but essentially that is what I had abandoned.
A political blogger throughout the election, I should have been excited to go to the Women’s March at my capitol. It was barely an hour’s drive. But, I couldn’t make myself do it. I didn’t dare risk getting home after the march and sinking further into the hole that seemed to be swallowing me. I was afraid by temporarily feeling buoyed by like minded souls only to return to my little rural town where there are so few democrats I haven’t dared to talk politics with anyone face to face. I was afraid I would be buried under the isolation and dread I had been feeling so intensely. So, I opted for the computer screen. After all, I could always turn to Angry Birds if thinking about the next four years became too oppressive.
As I watched and listened my mind began to thaw.
The more I heard, the more I understood–even though I may be isolated in a small town in a red state literally millions of people across this country and throughout the world are out there with me. People. Standing. United. Since Saturday I watched Day One turn into Day Two and Day Three as a movement begins to unfold. People did not return to their communities and fall back into their same old routines. They, WE, got organized, remembered we have the numbers, and emerged determined to have a voice. TODAY, you can join the movement.
If this is all new to you, here are a few things you can begin to do right now:
- Make a list. Find out who represents you at the state level, what party they belong to, and how to contact them. Keep this list on or near your computer and/or phone.
- Do the same for your federal representatives.
- Pick 2-3 issues YOU care about. They don’t have to be the most important issue to anyone but you. Follow what happens in these areas and keep track of how your representatives votes when bills come up concerning them.
- Call your representatives’ offices BEFORE important votes to tell them how you expect them to represent your interests. Feel free to start slowly and increase your activity as you feel more comfortable.
- Pick a candidate you can support and volunteer once a month to help them. Or attend a city council or school board meeting once a month.
- Finally, CONSIDER RUNNING FOR OFFICE YOURSELF.
We can make our voices heard. We can choose the mindset with which we face the future. Today, I choose HOPE.