Ask Amma

The Bully is Awake: How my Daughter Lifted me out of the Abyss

In Call to Action on 10 November 2016 at 12:00 pm
We know we have to get out of the abyss and onto the streets.  But how?
My daughter was as involved as I was in campaigning for Hillary Clinton this year.   Election Day morning, at her suggestion, a dozen of us held signs on a corner on Main Street, and many passersby cheered for us.  Since we live in a red county (in a blue state), we had hope that there were more people like that, even in other states.  Every time someone gave us a thumbs up or a supportive honk, we felt we were giving hope to people.  We rallied again in the evening, and then anticipated the results, sure that we would be celebrating.  When things looked bleak, we went to bed hoping for a turnaround by morning.  I woke to the nightmare.

I wistfully watched my daughter sleep for some time, dreading to break the news.
“How could that happen?” she asked, wide-eyed with shock.
I did not know how to answer.
“Will there be a recount?”  she asked.
“No, it was not close enough to demand a recount,” I replied. “It’s over.”
I couldn’t believe it.  She couldn’t believe it.  Unlike me, however, she was able to resume normal activities.  I was glad for that, and tried as much as possible not to let my own sense of being in the abyss affect her.  She wasn’t pulled down but she recognized how awful I felt, and told me this:
Time to face the worst

Time to face the worst

In The Heroes of Olympus books, there is this sleeping goddess named Gaea who is trying to wake up and destroy the world.  Everyone is afraid of her, and the protagonists are trying to keep her from waking up.  As a reader I always felt secure that good would prevail.  But then she wakes and you think, oh no!  They failed!  But is only when she wakes up that they can truly defeat her.

Absorbing what she said, I thought: this undercurrent of sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious bigotry, bullying — that we all thought we were overcoming even if we still had a long way to go — it is awake now.  It is unapologetically awake, as a few minutes of talk radio will gloatingly reveal.
 And now we have to realize that if we thought those who still thought it was okay to do all the kinds of things that Donald Trump has done publicly, repeatedly and brazenly were ignorant, unaware, and poor examples, if we thought that from good examples the next generation would learn better and the country would slowly but surely move forward, then we were so wrong.  So, so wrong.
 And more dangerous than Trump are all the people around him, such as Pence, who may have better manners but will surely push laws that hurt women, working families, immigrants, people with disabilities, minorities AND the people who voted so heavily for him, leaving them to cling ever more “greatly” to white privilege.  They have no plan to bring jobs, and no budget to do so.  They don’t even talk about improving access to health, education or protecting the environment, which all affect standard of living in the rust belt as much as in all belts.
I stayed away from most of the internet yesterday, but I did read my emails.  Friends urged friends not to give up, not to hide under the bed or move to Canada.  Reminded the country that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.  Amnesty InternationalMoms RisingColor of ChangeChesapeake Climate Action Network, Rainforest Action Network, the ACLU and many organizations wrote urging us to keep up the fight and work even harder to defend people and our planet which have already come under threat as a result of Trump’s campaign – how to we make sure his threats are not fulfilled?
Had Clinton been elected we would be working hard to ensure that she made good on as many of her promises as we possibly could.  We would be pushing Republicans to approve her Supreme Court nominee.  We would also try to push her further in the direction of protecting the environment, defending public schools and improving health care and criminal justice.  Where we disagreed with her policies, we would vigorously organize against them, and make advances on those fronts as well.
A steady stream of emails from other, distant struggles, such as Bastar, where even though the issues are connected, this election is irrelevant, yanks me back from thinking about what might have been.
I don’t blame those who publicly expressed hope that Trump will change; they have to do that.  Then all of us have to fight against every unjust, illegal, inhuman and unconstitutional step he takes and show a different path to those who voted for him. There is no more thinking “this would never happen.”  We thought he was a joke.  We thought he would never be nominated.  We thought he would never win.  We wanted to ignore him and hope he went away.  How could someone so morally bankrupt become president?  He could and he did.
The bully is awake and in our midst.  We have to change our strategies from “ignore, walk away, stand tall, tell a friend, practice self-care, defuse with humour.”  We must educate, agitate and organize — keeping in mind that this starts with defending schools, libraries, workplaces, public spaces, first amendment and constitutional rights and the Supreme Court.  This and much more, so much more than twice all this, we need to deliver us from the disaster looming before us.
  1. This is a perfect response to the horror story we now live in.

    But I have a completely unrelated question. Did you at one time, long ago, (over 20 years ago) work in the library at BBN in Cambridge, MA?


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