Pretty much, I just want to walk around these days yelling I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW BEING ANTI-RACIST IS CONTROVERSIAL.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT’S SO HARD FOR 99.999999% OF PEOPLE TO WEAR MASKS.
I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY BEING COMPASSIONATE IS POLITICIZED.
But I do understand.
I understand we’re selfish.
I understand we feel attacked.
I understand it’s hard work to self-analyze.
I understand we’ve bought all the way in to lies that MY liberty and sense of privilege is more important than YOUR life.
I understand it. As in, I comprehend it on an intellectual level. Yes, I understand, but I also refuse to accept those as legitimate reasons to continue to put others in harm’s way.
I understand that this is how it’s always been even though it was invisible to me, but I refuse to accept that this is how it always will be.
Living in the After Times is strange, indeed. You’ve seen this meme, right? The one right after we found out a Saharan Dust Storm was headed for the USA?
And the dude who replied, “Awesome! I always wondered what it was like to live during the times of the Civil War, Spanish Flu, Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement, Watergate, and the Dust Bowl. Not all at once, mind you, but ya know, ‘beggars/choosers’ and all.”
My dad shared it on the Book of Faces. But I admit, Diary, this meme gives me shortness of breath. I see the humor in it, but also it really does feel like this right now. All at once. A country more divided than I’ve seen in my lifetime, actively egged on by our president. A global pandemic and a U.S. president utterly incapable of taking the most basic measures to protect the populace — so much so that Americans are prohibited from crossing most borders (oh, the irony of being walled in!). Job losses and business closures that have already outweighed the numbers seen in the Great Depression. Protests and demonstrations and even some riots because we’re still a racist country no matter how much we say “BUT WE’VE CHANGED.” Constant scandals. Murder hornets. Cocaine boars. And I wonder, Diary — is this whole sitch short-term or long? Are we going to make progress on any of this or are we sort of stuck here in Bizarro Land?
I’ve said it before that it’s the Uncertainty of the After Times that’s really causing the angst. A crystal ball would come in handy about now. Will there be a vaccine? Is herd immunity possible with this virus? Will we ever go back to the “normal” of the Before Times? Do we even want to go back when forward holds more promise? Will our country come out of the protests having made any real change toward equity? Does the long arc of the moral universe really bend toward justice? I want to think so. And maybe that’s what hope is, in the end. Thinking good is even possible.
So I guess that’s what I’ll sit here tonight and practice.
Thinking good is even possible.
Thinking we can maybe figure out a way to collectively prioritize compassion.
And focusing on hope.
Hope, despite evidence to the contrary.