A Way Forward

One of my followers, and fellow bloggers, recently inquired after my well-being, not having seen a post from me in quite some time. I appreciate the concern – am in general okay – but recognize that in subtle ways I have not been myself, or at least not the self who reflects and blogs.

Now that I’m coming out of the blank space, I can see that it was:
1) real (not an alternate fact),
2) somewhat akin to depression,
3) also at least partially rooted in a doctor-ordered change in thyroid treatment,
4) definitely influenced by political ugliness in both the U.S. and Cameroon,
5) full of flashbacks, or recognition of old patterns and feelings that no longer have a place in my current life, and
6) clearly an opportunity to process and release residual mental patterns that do me no good.

I know that some of the threads I pulled from the tangle included a deep anger that our society still values a sorry excuse for a man over an intelligent and accomplished woman – an anger that eased on January 21st.

Another thread was a profound fatigue, best reflected in one of the signs carried on January 21st by an older woman. “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this shit.” Really, do I have to do this all again, fifty years later?

Yet another thread was a vivid remembrance of my college years, in the infamous sixties, marching in protest against the war in Vietnam and in support of civil rights, dating an African fellow student and later marrying a Black American, living integration on a day to day basis at a time when that marriage was still considered illegal in several southern states. Today we have an Oscar nominee in a new movie about the legal case that ended miscegenation laws, but also an upsurge in attacks on mixed race couples and their children, legitimized by the new administration’s ugly rhetoric.

Yet another thread from the past woven into the present was my own feeling of limitation in what I could say or do to protest domination by values with which I profoundly disagreed. In my youth, that limitation resided in the fact that my father was an officer in the nation’s diplomatic corps and I was made to understand that my conduct could not undermine his position and responsibilities. He had written reports in the mid-1950s, warning of the quagmire into which the U.S. would fall if it followed the course of action then being dictated in southeast Asia. He was ignored, and then told to stick to economic reporting. He was back Stateside, and assigned to an academic setting, when I attended the very first march on Washington to protest the start of the Vietnam War. He warned me to be very careful where I went and what I said, just starting out on my working life, in order not to prematurely curtail my options – and also in order not to bring more censure down on him.

I was not then, and am still not now, a demonstrator in the public crowd sense. I tend rather to make my statement of values in the choices of how I live my daily life. I’ve become comfortable having friends from a variety of backgrounds, working in a helping profession (Care Coordinator for an MCO with Medicaid recipients as my caseload), married now to a Cameroonian studying here, and living in a “rural frontier” community in a state known for its multicultural heritage (Hispanic, Native America, Anglo and with a small but historically significant black population) that has also welcomed many Vietnamese and, lately, Tibetan and Middle Eastern immigrants.

I began to come out of my blank space when I read that my college Swarthmore, in Pennsylvania, has declared itself a sanctuary school. Santa Fe (NM), near my home, has declared itself committed to remaining a sanctuary city. I wear a safety pin on my outer garments ever since I learned of the act as a symbol that others, of whatever type, are safe with me. It seems that I’ve needed time to find my way into the acts that allow me to express my resistance to the present state of the nation. Because I am under constraints now, as I was all those decades ago. Again now, as then, people whom I care about can be harmed if I become too outspoken.

Am I truly having to go through this yet again? How could the nation have regressed so far, so fast?

I have not been writing, and therefore not posting, while I work through my response to what seems to be the undoing of everything I have cared about and supported my entire, many decades long, adult life. Living my values in my small corner of the state is necessary, but has not felt sufficient. I’m signing petitions, but ignoring the constant demand for cash contributions to fund more protests, because I don’t have the cash to donate (if I did, I wouldn’t still be working full time at long past retirement age). I’ve been seeking what would feel like an appropriate expression of my objections to the so-called swamp which, instead of being drained, has been broadened and deepened to cover the entire nation with greed and egotism and petulant childish tantrums and threats to our most fundamental Constitutional freedoms.

Today, when I heard that federal funds will be cut off to any entity that resists the government’s attack on immigrants, I remembered another piece of my past – tax resistance. As a Quaker, I refused to pay for war when I was young. Might I now refuse to pay for a wall, and a registry, and an immigration ban? Might I give my tax money directly to Santa Fe schools that will need it, instead of to the Federal government to spend on taking this country backward a century or more?

I don’t know how this idea will unfold, but it is clear to me that identifying a form of protest congruent with my life experience has been necessary to bring me the rest of the way out of my funk. Now let’s see if it also ends my silence.

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5 Responses to “A Way Forward”

  1. Beauty Along the Road Says:

    Thank you so much for stopping by Beauty Along the Road today, so I could follow you back here and read this post. You and I have so many similarities, maybe a decade apart. Coming to the US in the late 70s and marrying an Afro-Caribbean immigrant definitely shaped my life here. And I, too, saw the same sign you mentioned at the DC March and talked with the woman a little bit about that same horror – having to fight for the same issues all over again. It seems like we got into a time warp that took us 50 yrs backwards. I’ve had an immobilizing backache all week that came out of nowhere and my husband tells me its all the emotions my body holds for me and that I spend too much time on the computer following the news. He’s probably right….
    For me, it’s been difficult too to post about beauty when we are surrounded by so much ugliness. But I came across a quote today by Audre Lorde which I’ll hold close for a while: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

    • chelawriter Says:

      I don’t get online often enough – a very full time and demanding job with too much computer data entry results in my ‘down’ time usually being spent with a “real” book. Part of the self-preservation you refer to. So I am tardy responding to your comments. I look forward to getting to know you better, as we do indeed seem to have much in common. And I am intent on making non-work online time available to read your earlier posts. I did very much enjoy the orchid artwork 🙂 Here’s to self preservation and spiritually based political engagement!

  2. Musings from a Tangled Mind Says:

    I’m so sorry for your recent anguish and anxieties and I share your many concerns. In addition to feeling a need to protest or make my voice heard, I’ve also had this overwhelming desire to simply run away — run to a place where there are like-minded people who share my views, those who morally oppose what has apparently become our new way of life thanks to this new administration. While I still consider doing that, my plans have at least become more practical instead of a knee jerk reaction. I am glad to see you back and writing, and I wish you peace of mind and heart. Hopefully your two new four legged family members will help in that regard. Animals are wonderful healers in so many ways and they can bring light to our lives, a light we sometimes didn’t even know we were missing.

  3. Cheryl @ Artzzle Says:

    I share your frustrations. Our age group seems to have given us several like patterns. As you must still work, I feel guilty admitting that I am so content staying home, at least temporarily out of the whole mess. When the news comes on, it’s still a shock to think that this person is actually OUR PRESIDENT, almost like a nightmare, and I’ve had a few of those of late, as well. The lack of sense and sensibilities worsens each day, and it’s frightening to wonder where this will lead us as a nation. Glad to see you posting again, though. As for my blogging, I don’t feel a great need to continue. I do have to find/invent something positive and productive to occupy my time. I’ll keep you updated.

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