This time four years ago, my dad had 19 days left to live.
Donald Trump was about to be elected* into office and usher in a time of uncertainty, corruption and abuse of power (and of people). The wounds and history we never addressed in this country, opened.
“I kept remembering what an old college friend told me many years ago, “protesting is like prayer for me and the people are the church.” As an atheist, I wholeheartedly agree.”
Four years ago, I was also battling my own destruction. Stewing in a pool of depression and an eating disorder somewhere in a foreign country, feeling lost. Four years ago today, it’d be 20 days until I’d return to the States, to fight not just for my personal survival but for the many affected groups around me. A lot of them, who were used to fighting and kept welcoming the new groups of oppressed people into the fight. We hit the ground running in January against the demons we had elected into office and, it will be noted in history, the apathetic and power hungry henchmen that allowed it all to happen.
The personal is political, they say. In my own life, I became radicalized further in my politics and (my new favorite word, instead of the old, but. A phrase meant to remind us to keep things nuanced I learned from podcaster, Beth Silvers) also in the way I loved. Those two things are indistinguishable to me. I kept remembering what an old college friend told me many years ago, “protesting is like prayer for me and the people are the church.” As an atheist, I wholeheartedly agree. Nothing has kept me more tied in to the changing and often painful work of advocacy and politics the way people have.
For countless others, today brings back a lot of trauma for a variety of reasons. And I think we should sit with that as we navigate our grief. It’s all one thing really: personal grief feeds into collective mourning. With the pandemic raging on and the many people who did not survive this administration, it can feel as though that mourning has no end.
And at the same time, four years ago is a lot of time to grow and change. People used to think being political is a choice have grown out of that. Bursts of consciousness have been altered around matters of racism, economic inequality, the very real problems of capitalism and our tired small planet, thanks to the countless efforts of activists, academics, and critical thinking. More of us are waking up. Sure, it’s painful at times and necessitates difficult conversations, it’s not without nuance, but it’s GROWTH. People are realizing how complicated people’s stories are. People are deciding, in their own small ways, what we want our souls to look like. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is how its thrown things into question: from how we work to WHY things work a certain way to highlighting the failures of a political system that doesn’t seem to care. In doing so, it’s made people find their own ways. To try new solutions. We’ve been left to our own devices. Might as well try.
Four years later, there are a lot of people who don’t have the chance to reflect on the last four years because each day is a struggle to survive. The rest of us have to sit with that and recognize all the work left to do, regardless of what tomorrow brings.
Voting is not the end of our responsibility to one another. Let’s continue to unlearn what we thought was given, learn what should be given, and unite under the word, “TRY”, instead of the phrase, “it is what it is.” Questioning, fighting, organizing — all those efforts by people back in history got us to where we are now and also show us how much more we have left to go. None of that happened with the lead of cynicism or apathy... And it also did not happen without failure.
“And the people are the church.” In the same way personal growth bends towards progress, the arch of history follows. But we have to continue doing the work.
Four years ago, a lot of us were really lost. I’d like to believe that now, we are all part of a stronger church.