Hoo boy. I woke up to some fun shenanigans from the government this morning. I guess– I mean, I guess it’s time to talk about it. But even talking about it is overwhelming, because if you don’t say exactly what you mean in precisely perfect language, you’re opening yourself up to arguments that you’re already too exhausted to have. When I bring it up, I get a lot of stupid comments. Comments like, “If you hate America so much, then leave!”
So let’s start there. I don’t hate America. It would be a little stupid to equate my anger at a political administration/situation with somehow hating some 3.8 million square miles of land– land that’s full of a vast array of people, people who agree with me, disagree with me, people who don’t even have time to think about this shit because they’re barely scraping by. People who are fighting back, people who are too scared to fight back, people who don’t know how to fight back, people whose way of fighting back looks like mine, people whose way of fighting back looks a hell of a lot different. Also, there are some people who are either uneducated (probably because of failings on the part of the system supposed to educate them, not because they’re willfully ignorant, although I’ve met a couple of those, too, and they’re weird outliers and I can’t fix them for you) or angry or misled and don’t understand that what’s happening is bad, is terrifying, that it needs to be pushed back against.
I love America. Not its political administration. Not its weird fixation with fast food and crash dieting simultaneously. Not its upsetting lack of public transportation. Not its double standards in arrests and sentencings. Not its weird fixation with plastering its flag all over everything and acting like that somehow means something. No.
America is a body, okay: its lungs and liver and like, most of its major systems, really– have you looked at our public school system? The system I’m about to be trying to get work in? Aughhh–are infected and failing it, but it’s full of these brilliant, beautiful white blood cells that are fighting that infection. (The idea that white blood cells are white in no way reflects the melanin content of the Rad People of America. We’ve got loads of PoC metaphorical white blood cells.) And I don’t mean that everyone is standing up and fighting back, that they would even categorize themselves as people who are resisting– some of them are immigrants picking fruit in the 100+ degree weather all day so their families can live somewhere just a little safer, or they’re artists and writers living on ramen and cheap wine so they can afford supplies to make things that change hearts and minds, or they’re urban kids with cans of spray paint making expressive art instead of just claiming territory, or they’re little old ladies living on Social Security and still knitting socks for their local group home. While it’s important– stunningly, vitally important– to be standing up and saying, “This shit is just not okay,” that’s not the only thing that keeps the fight going. Small acts of human kindness and dedication are the backbone of the resistance. Tolkien showed us the fundamental importance of the small choices of the small people in the Lord of the Rings. And maybe that’s just my nerdy upbringing talking, but I feel just as good when I’m crocheting or painting a beautiful gift for someone I love or giving a stranger directions or writing a story about intimate moments between human beings as I do when I’m making glittery protest signs or calling my senators or writing angry posts about how our political system is devolving into a steaming pile of excrement that’s poisoning the groundwater of our nation. Which it is, in case that was unclear. Like, wow.
Look, I’m overwhelmed. This post is not a coherent thesis statement followed by points that back it up. My family is imploding in a number of directions, I’m drowning in work for graduate school, I’m on the verge of illness again, and I’m just fucking tired. This post is a ramble. But I’m kind of okay with that. If I did have a thesis statement, I guess it would be:
Pick something wonderful and do it. Even if it’s tiny. Do it well and with as much of yourself as you can muster. Do it knowing that kindness is the best medicine for cruelty.
Don’t bother arguing with people who shitpost your questions and incorrectly-phrased anger on facebook. They aren’t going to agree with you no matter how you phrase it. Some people only know how to feel good by making others feel like crap. Try to ignore them. Make that pair of socks. Post that hastily typed out variation of “wtf is Trump doing, our nation is falling apart.” Make really delicious pasta for dinner. Offer some to your overworked mom or your neighbor that you don’t know as well as you’d like. Even if they have a Trump sign in their yard.
Infect the nation with kindness in as many small ways as you can. Bleed joy and triumph and glitter all over everything you do.
That’s more than one thesis. Whatever. I’m bleeding glitter onto the internet. Now I’m going to go eat some delicious leftover pasta that I shared with my overworked mother last night and write up my residency responses for grad school. Because the best thing– the very best thing any of us can do in the face of this is to not let it keep us from living. Don’t stop studying. Don’t stop writing or painting or cooking or playing D&D. And maybe, while you’re rolling for damange or hanging with people over that meal or sitting in study group, maybe just remind everyone that treating anyone as subhuman is super uncool and that our president is a golem of chicken dung given life by hatred.
Yeah? Yeah. Go. Do that.