A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Monday, November 14, 2016

Surviving Piggington

Among my friends and colleagues, there is a waterfall of grief and despair going on.  I’ve spent the past few days wallowing in that deluge.

I haven’t gotten over it.  I won’t really ever get over it – and that’s a good thing.  There are going to be a lot of letters to write, a lot of booths to staff, and a lot of charitable donations to make, over the next four years. I need to hold onto a kernel of outrage.  I need to promise myself that I will not let this – any of this -- become the “new normal”.

But I also need to focus my energy and channel my wrath.  Talking though these election results with two ten-year-old girls has been hell.  But it has also been good for me.  It turns out that the hopeful, optimistic truths I dug deep (REALLY deep) to offer to two distraught children are my own truths, too. 

Thus, although this list is still growing and morphing, I’ll share a few of my thoughts.

1) This election mattered A LOT.  Like, really, really, really a lot.    There are many ways in which our new President can threaten human rights and the environment, in the U.S. and worldwide.  However, our government is set up such that the President is not a dictator.  There are people who can check his actions.  We, the people, can peacefully, effectively, fight back.  This is not un-American; it is, in fact, intensely American.  Just as we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of rebels, and always have been.

2) Although the President is certainly a Very Big Deal, most of what we experience in our daily lives depends not on how we are treated by the person in the White House, but how we are treated by the people who live next door… and the kids on the playground…and the folks who ring up our groceries or change our oil… and the teachers in our schools and universities. Yes, there are bigots out there, and that is horrible, but we already knew they were out there.  They were out there last week, last month, last year.  And, with the possible exception of Ku Klux Klan members, no one is 100% bigoted, and no one is 100% unbigoted.  Including me.  So, even as I’m trying to fight sexism, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia in the great big world, I’m going to try to avoid slapping labels on other people.  

3) Taking the high ground on being “informed”, like taking the high ground on being non-bigoted, feels crucial, yet shaky.  I have a PhD.  I read a lot.  I employ critical thinking skills.  But do I know everything about how to run this country?  Nope.  So while I’m going to do my damnedest to help counter misinformation in areas of my own expertise (“Anyone want to hear about climate change?  Anyone?  Anyone?”) I’m also going to try to keep learning.  And listening.

4) Even though right now it feels like we’re spiraling back to the Dark Ages, the choices of young voters and mock-voting children suggest otherwise.  Granted, I lead a privileged life.  I can’t speak for the experienced of LGBT or minority Americans.  But, heck, among locally reporting fifth-graders (in this red town in this red state), Hillary won all the electoral votes from “Narnia”, “Si-bear-ia”, and, indeed, all “states” and “territories” except for “Piggington”. 

Oh, Piggingtonites… I don’t think this is going to go any better for you than it is for the rest of us. 

The above photo depicts an exhaustive comparative literary analysis of the 1963 and 1980 editions of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever.   My daughters report, after intense scrutiny, that the awkward amendments intended to make the anthropomorphic bunnies, cats, walruses, and worms less sexist, do not, in fact, make the book less sexist.  They have a few editorial suggestions.  They have a few suggestions about other things, too.  Lots of other things.

5) On the morning after Election Day, one of the twins asked me how old she has to be before she can run for President.