I want to talk about all of this.
I want to write and engage and inspire and console and encourage and help. I want to be sending positive ripples out into the world, however small, to be felt by everyone, by people I love and people I don’t love yet.
But one way or another nothing I can say is right.
I want to say: The world has not ended. It is still wide with variety and broad with potential. Americans, your country is young, and has already survived worse abominations and greater upheavals than this. There are many around you who share both your mourning and your values, and who will help make sure that this darkness is not all-encompassing.
…But it really is pretty dark right now. And it’s a rather meager reassurance to note that a major catastrophe is technically still sub-apocalyptic. A disaster doesn’t have to be the worst thing that could conceivably happen to anyone, to still be unbearably bad. The forthcoming negative effects on numerous individuals will be very real. *Some people are not going to be okay.*
I want to say: Among the many factors which congealed to somehow let President Trump happen, one of the more consistent and central is the alienation of the Other – and this is a thing we each have the power to personally resist. So much of modern life encourages us to divide into teams, and view anyone on the other side of an arbitrary line as the enemy. To define yourself in relation to an opposing tribe, and to hate and fear them for no more substantive reason than that they wear a different meaningless label, which identifies them as not One Of Us, is one of the most natural parts of being human. To *reject* that urge, then, and to remember in all things that the whole of humanity should be your tribe, is one of the most dramatic and revolutionary things you can do. Trump’s brand of politics wants us to be afraid of what They might do to Us; if we all recognise that They *are* Us, his divisive ideology will have nothing to grasp onto.
…But how constructive, let alone reasonable, is it to encourage people to reach out with compassion to the same braying hordes who’ve delighted in spitting on them with contempt and denying them the most basic human rights? Acknowledging that every adversary is a complex sentient being, whose humanity deserves to be recognised, isn’t much good if it stops us from condemning their vile actions and defending their victims. There are women, people of colour, Muslims, LGBT* folk, people dealing with poverty or disability, and many others much deeper in the shit than I am, who are rightfully furious at the way they’re being treated. Can I really lecture any of them about the importance of being kind? How much racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted abuse could I face in my actual real life, before I wanted anyone preaching humanism and universal compassion to shut the fuck up?
I want to say: If the election didn’t go how you wanted, you are not powerless for the next four years. You do not need to passively accept whatever malign bullshit the authoritarian machine wants to inflict upon you, until the next time you get to tick a box. There are numerous ways that people can organise collectively to achieve common goals; the way dictated by the electoral college and the US central government is a shitty one, but people are coming up with better small-scale examples all the time. We can demonstrate a social system founded on more positive values, more conducive to thriving and prosperity, than the greed and insularity that dominates at present.
…But, redundant and unconscionable social constructions though they may be, the power structures in place across every major democracy on the planet at the moment are a thing that’s actually *there*, even if only because enough people still believe in them. This is a horrifying way to run a landmass, but for millions of people it’s the only game in town, and it’s not crazy to grasp at one rare and very prominently offered opportunity to alleviate some of the pain. For all that I complain about democracy providing nothing better than the lesser of two evils, the chance to have a little less evil to deal with right now probably sounds pretty good to a lot of people.
I want to discuss my political ideas with people. I want to expound at length on the candidates’ policies and ideas and flaws, and their role in shaping the discourse, and how our interactions with them eventually led to this sorry state of affairs.
…But everything’s so raw for so many right now that I have no idea how to do that without blundering senselessly and callously over fresh wounds and coming across like an uncaring ass and causing more pain.
And so I mostly just get on with things, because I’m white and straight and male and middle-class and able-bodied and thousands of miles away so I get to do that.
And when I try to contribute, it’s either brief and pithy and utterly inadequate as a response to the whole situation because there’s just so much to respond to, or it’s so broad and generic that my observations essentially amount to, “Boy, the number and magnitude of good and/or bad things that are happening and/or could happen in the world is, like, wow, right?”
Which is a lot less profound than it feels like it ought to be before I try and express it in words.
I firmly encourage love and hope and solidarity and kindness and direct action and art and revolution, and I also empathise with anyone who doesn’t find some or any of these an appropriate or practical option in response to what they’re going through right now.
Good luck, everyone.
(Also yeah, clearly I’m not actually back to blogging again. Oh well.)