Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Charlottesville. Thoughts and Feelings.

I have two other blog post topics rarin' to go - I've started my fifth round of Whole30 and reread the book that started it all, and I've come up on a very important injury-a-verysary which is leading to a redemption run this weekend.  This explosion of things to write about is rare, as I'm often scraping the bottom of the mental barrel for inspiration week-to-week.

It's amazing how something can feel so vitally and urgently important and meaningful one day, and beyond trivial the next.  It just keeps happening during this national emergency known as the Trump presidency.

Each day that goes by since this weekend, it's hitting me harder and harder, and in quiet moments when I'm not working or busy or filling my head with podcasts, I just want to cry.  I'm so deeply afraid to live in a country where the President falsely equivocates racists storming a city with the people who stand on the side of racial equality.  When he has to be practically forced to denounce hate groups by name, and then turns around and tell us all what he really wanted to say in the first place.

The absolute worst part of it is - it's not surprising.  It's who he's shown himself to be all along.  And yet he was still elected to hold the highest office in the land.

I'm a Virginian and a southerner and proud to be both.

And I've started and re-started the next several sentences to follow that a billion times.

I don't tend to get political on this blog (or at least not since the election), although I am extremely passionate about my political beliefs.  I could write a book about my complicated history and feelings about the south and the Confederacy and how I understand people who say, "Heritage not hate"  - because I used to be one of them, and I'm related to plenty.  It is a really intense, complicated issue for a southern liberal, and this isn't the place to hash it out.

You know what's not a complicated issue?

People identifying as Nazis, as the Ku Klux Klan, as White Nationalists, as whatever they call themselves, storming a town and spreading a violent message of "cleansing" this melting pot that is our country are on the wrong side of history.  It is wrong.  And it's terrifying.  And if it doesn't terrify you, you need a good, long, hard look in the mirror, a more diverse group of friends, and therapy.

Counter-protesters defending their city from the scourge of these hateful men (and they did all seem to be men, didn't they?) are in no way EVER to be equivocated to them.  It's beyond apples and oranges.  One person likened it to cancer and chemotherapy - yes, they're both aggressive.  But they are not the same.  One is a force for good, and fighting for good means defending yourself.

It's so far beyond politics.  And I'm so fearful for citizens of this country who are not evil people but whose worldview is shaped by such radically warped media that they believe the false equivocation.  That they actually believe the Black Lives Matter movement and activists are violent when nothing could be further from the truth - the aim is to stop systemic violence and promote equality.  Donald Trump has absolutely convinced himself that his beliefs are true, because he wants them to be true.  So do thousands - and God help us, it's probably millions - of his supporters.  This is not a new problem in America.  It's the oldest problem we've got.  But the side of "white power" just got a hell of a lot louder and more emboldened.

This frightens me down to my core.  I'm so afraid of what this is leading to.

So what to do?  How to cope?  What to say?  What to think?

Standing up to racism every single day when we encounter it is a start.  Speaking up and out.  Asking how to help and be of service and showing up to rallies and volunteering your time and energy and ear is a start.

In the short time - I want to share some words that have been helpful and comforting to me in hopes that they're helpful and comforting to you.

"It's strange to be in Europe while horrible terrorism occurs in your home state.  It's even more surreal when in Berlin, where so much Nazi hate and power rose.
The same question keeps ringing in my ears, reverberating in my heart, and weighing like a fetter with every step I take through this extraordinary city's history:  Why haven't we learned?
There is no freedom in ignorance, there is no power in walls, and there is no safety in accusing others as the guilty ones.  The lesser ones.  Those not worthy of life.
Focusing on the speck of sawdust in the eye of a scapegoat when that speck came from the spiteful sawing of the log in one's own eye is the farthest thing from what any loving God would condone.
And the Germans would be the first to tell you that."
Lisa Helmi Johanson, Actress, Musician, Best Friend, Soup Sister, Excellent Human Being

"Us good spirited human beings have a responsibility to use our superpowers to spread joy and kindness and stand up to hate.  Joy-makers unite!"
Joshua Holden, Creator and Star of The Joshua Show, Puppeteer, Joy-Maker, Friend, Excellent Human Being

"We hate the President, we hate the south, we hate the ignorant, we hate the people who don't have the same views.  See the pattern?  Hate begets hate, rage begets rage.  Hate is still hate, even if our hate is standing on the right side of history.  See, when we see ourselves as right in our hatred, we don't see how we are also poison ourselves.  What would happen if you stopped hating Donald Trump and started putting love into action?"
Laura Frye, Actress, Yoga Teacher, Best Friend, Work/Running Wife, Excellent Human Being

And Laura nicely segues into the most important person whose words have given me catharsis and comfort - a woman among the most deeply, profoundly, and permanently affected by this weekend's events, and by the lack of a leader who in any other world would have been present at her daughter's memorial - or at the very by-God least, said her name out loud.

Heather Heyer's last post online before she was murdered in an act of domestic terrorism were, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."  She was right.

Let's feel what we feel.  Let's channel and fuel our righteous and self-righteous anger and outrage and fear and frustration into loving action.  Let's let it go and fill our hearts with love, otherwise that anger and outrage and fear and frustration is going to live in us and marinate in us and harden our hearts - and that self poisoning, that hatred that can't help but make you bitter and hateful is exactly the kind of thing we're fighting against.  That's what makes us on the right side of history.  That's the difference.

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