I finally figured it out.
After starting 20 blog posts, and then not hitting publish because they felt trite, or stupid, or wrong, or badly written…
After the inauguration…
And the peaceful marches that followed…
I finally know what I want to say.
As I’ve wrestled with how to react to the fact that the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans with an agenda that I disagree with, and that an inexperienced reality TV star now has the keys to our nuclear arsenal, I’ve been seized with this sense of…IMMOBILITY.
Like I can’t speak, or move, or have an opinion, because a) What does it matter? and b) Someone will tell me that I am brainwashed by the media, or that what I care about doesn’t matter in the “real America”.
Which leaves me with nothing more to do than commiserate with my like-minded friends (and thank god for them) and studiously, fastidiously avoid any conversation with anyone on the other side.
And that pretty much sucks.
But two days ago, I finally figured it out. It was lunch time, and I dared to get on Facebook as the President was giving his inaugural speech. (I didn’t listen. But I did read it in its entirely later). I was thinking about my work, what I was doing at that very moment.
I was building a website to help give grants to young classical musicians who want to use music to make their communities better.
And I realized something important. I have spent the last year (nay, probably most of my adult life) fretting that maybe I have it wrong. That maybe I am naive and brainwashed like the right claims I am. That maybe the fundamental things I believe in are wrong. After all, someone has to be wrong, right? 😉
But as I was watching my friends react to the President’s words, and rumors started to swirl that the Republicans were going to put the NEA, the NEH, and the CPB on the chopping block, and the words “climate change” were erased from the whitehouse.gov website…I realized something.
I realized that I will never, ever, ever, let our President, or the Republicans in Congress, or some right-wing media engine/engineer convince me that the arts don’t matter.
Or that trying to take care of our planet doesn’t matter.
Or that learning and studying different ideas and views doesn’t matter.
Or that trying to help people who need help doesn’t matter.
Because if we don’t care about such things, we have no right to claim to be great at anything. And we will never make the world better for all the people who need us to try.
And here’s the thing. HERE’S THE THING!!!
I can believe these things, and my believing them doesn’t come at the expense of someone else’s belief. Just because I believe these things doesn’t mean what you believe, which might be different, isn’t important. This is not a zero-sum game. There is room for all of us. Heck, most of us aren’t that far apart – but there’s no drama when we’re not fighting, and drama gets clicks.
There you have it. I will not throw away all that I learned in school and college and life, simply because a bunch of people voted differently than me. I will accept that we will differ on policy, on solutions, on the role of government. It’s entirely possible that I am wrong about many things. But I will no longer be made to feel guilty, or naive, or clueless, about the fundamentals of what I believe. I will try not to do the same to the other side. If we can debate how to fix healthcare, without implying that we each are spawns of the devil, let’s do it. Heck, we can even debate the merits of the National Endowment for the Arts, if you don’t imply that I’m a loser for caring.
So there. I’m ready. Let’s do this.