(This is what I have wanted to say about what we’re not supposed to say anymore. I wrote this for a submission to an online magazine but then realized it wasn’t a fit stylistically, so here it is…)
It all fell apart. Came tumbling down. Crashed and burned. There’s a historic divide in our lives now, a pre and post election 2016. Krista Bremer from The Sun magazine creates a perfect tone for this divide, as she begins her essay, “American Winter” with:
“Once upon a time, before Donald Trump was elected president, there was a woman who lived on a cul-de-sac where an orange cone in the middle of the road reminded drivers to slow down because children played in the street. The houses were built around a grassy circle with a fire pit where grown-ups gathered after the kids’ bedtimes. ..” (para 1).
Bremer continues to paint a Rockwellian picture of life to juxtapose the gestalt shift in our nation’s psyche, the total 180 degrees in our personal and collective identities. “Once upon a time,” and all of the fairytale stories the phrase evokes, fits so aptly of my experience of life before Trump emerged as a likely candidate.
On a personal note, the floor fell out from under me as I learned that immediate family members – and several likeable people in my life – had voted for the Donald. I am still coming to grips with it, honestly, but time is softening my dismay and tempering my fury. Nonetheless, how do we continue to look our dear loved ones in the face, knowing they ignored all of the hate and the dishonesty? Knowing they still tuck their children in at night, despite having voted against the rights of women, minorities, and homosexuals? You remember all of the painful rhetoric. You’re witnessing the assault on human rights as I write this. There’s no need to dig it all up.
Yet this is the thing, isn’t it? How do we stop digging? How do we silence the parts of our hearts and minds that demand we care for our fellow humans and that we adamantly oppose those who disregard those same humans? This feels as unnatural as asking daffodils not to rise in spring. And when these disregarding folks are loved ones, how do we reconcile the tremendous discord?
I don’t know, and this is the honest truth. However, I can tell you that my love for family will never cease. I can tell you that life is complicated and so are people. I can tell you that living with great paradoxes is part of the mystery of life. Nothing is clearly black or white. Not people. Not ideologies. Not emotions. Even love is somewhat cloudy at times. It comes in varying degrees. It comes with compromises, with a total willingness to set aside major differences and tremendous conflicts. But like daffodils during a bleak and cold spring, love is going to bloom in the harshest of conditions. Once upon a time, I failed to see this solid truth.