As I enter into this middle part of my life, this mittleschmertz as my grandmother would say, there is an aching to go backwards in time to when I was a younger, more carefree sort of girl. You know, the one who could party till 6am and then cram for a test for a couple of hours, take a 3 hour nap after and then do it all over again. But then I think about the toll it’s taken on the now 45 year old me and I’m all good with being right where I am. Being right where I am is in the middle part of my life but right now I feel like I am back in the middle ages. You know, when women had no rights other than to spread their legs for their husband or any man in power on demand and were seen basically as property; when homosexuals were beheaded and tortured and killed; when Jews were persecuted for just being Jews; when religious tolerance was an oxymoron; when people with disabilities were shunned and put into institutions where the everyday Joe didn’t have to see them; when people were more concerned with who had the shiniest carriage than if they were learned or well read. And yet, here I am.
I find myself right now feeling like I’m in some crazy Game of Thrones chapter and while I really loved the books, I’m not really convinced they end well for anyone. I feel like I’m in some sort of time warp and not like the fun version of time warp in Rocky Horror Picture Show where we all dance and throw hot dogs and toilet paper. No. I’m in some really scary, bizarre, and uncomfortable time warp that has shaken me to the core. And because I’m me, I have not held back and have expressed these feelings on social media and with my friends and family and have been been met with everything from hugs and empathy to begging me to think about my health and the heart condition I have and take a step back to give the president elect a chance, it may not be that bad. So I find myself going in between all of these things on a minute to minute basis every single day. Some minutes I’m feeling teary and wanting the hugs from my friends who get it. Some minutes I want my people to remind me to take care of myself because my family needs me. Some minutes (very very very very brief ones) I think of giving the President elect a chance. And I flip flop between them at random times throughout my day and I gotta tell you I just kind of feel nauseous from all of it. And so I am going to try and process out my feelings here because this is my space dammit and I’m allowed. It speaks to who I am in this crazy world of ours; it speaks to my identity.
First, I am a human being on a planet that I inhabit. It is my responsibility to take care of this planet so that it is there for generations to come. It is my responsibility to not take for granted this beautiful planet on which I live and breathe. It is my responsibility to understand the fragility of our planet and to nurture it and protect it against abuse as much as I possibly can. I am also blessed (read as cursed) to have taken many research classes and understand that SCIENCE is REAL. When many different scientists from many different places all come together and say that climate change is a real thing, I listen. I read, I analyze, I think and then I move into action. Climate change is something that keeps me awake at night. To finally feel like we were really starting to move in the right direction to help our planet become sustainable for our future generations and then to take about 1 million steps backwards leaves a pit in my stomach and insomnia in my life.
Second, I am a woman. The thought to me that people can think it’s acceptable for men to talk about grabbing women and doing whatever they want with them is terrifying. I’m sorry, are we back in some kind of Rob Roy movie? Do I need to hire body guards for my daughters and myself when my husband is away? Do I need to invest in a vat of mace? In my mind when a person who has talked about groping women and has been accused by 12 women of actually doing the thing he said he does is elected to the highest office it is giving permission for others to act the same way. The President sets an example for the rest of the country to follow. Anyone who says otherwise does not understand the role of the President. I will not tolerate this behavior and neither should anyone. Now excuse me while I enroll myself and my daughters in martial arts classes.
Third, I am a Jew. When I was a child someone drew a swastika on my family’s car and our driveway in ketchup. I am not oblivious to the fact that antisemitism is alive and well in the world but the fact that the President elect is surrounding himself with people who show a tolerance for this type of hatred is appalling. Again, it sets the tone for the country and it gives permission that this type of behavior is tolerated and appropriate. It is not. Nothing about any of this is ok. Get that in your heads right now. This is not ok. And it’s not just about being Jewish. Mexicans, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, people of color, Asian people are all targets in this cowardly new world. I say cowardly because when fear dictates actions then yes, the actions are cowardly. It is not a stretch to say that if you surround yourself with antisemitic, racist, xenophobic, homophobic people then you are that yourself. People in this country are now expressing all of these ideologies right out in the open and they are brazen and relentless in their persecution of those different from them. This is not me and it never will be me. I embrace diversity; I am not scared of differences, I am curious about them and want to learn from them. And I want all of these groups to know that I have your back and hope that you have mine.
Fourth, I am a mother. The future of my kids’ world is in jeopardy right now. And I know some of you are saying, it’s only four years, suck it up buttercup. A lot can happen in 4 minutes let alone 4 years. The damage that could be done could be drastic and irreparable. My girls have grown up with knowledge that climate change is real, racism and sexism is bad, and tolerance is important. How do I tell them that everything they’ve known is now suddenly different? I feel like we let all of our children down and this is the greatest disappointment to me as a human and as a mother. My hope with this is that we will create a younger generation poised to fight the good fight and stand up to our mistakes and fix what we have broken. I know both of my daughters are brave and fierce when it comes to what is right and just and they will fight relentlessly and this gives me some pause to sleep at night.
So what can I do? What can we do? I for one will try and put away fears and roll up my sleeves and do the work necessary to preserve the person I am and the country I want for my children. I will read and read everything and analyze and think and come out with conclusions and then come out with talking points and bring them to the table. I will listen and I will watch and I will not let things go in hope that it all “might” be ok. I will be vigilant. I will also open my mind and my heart to those who have felt left behind in this world and try and bridge that gap. When the world moves forward and some remain stuck it is a terrible feeling. How do we bring everyone forward and not leave masses behind? That should be the big question here. We bring STEM to other areas besides cities. We bring knowledge of renewable energy to areas besides the coast. We educate the hell out of our people on how to live in a brave new world, not a cowardly new world. We meet and we talk and we discuss without name calling or vulgarity or hatred in our hearts. I’m willing to do this work. I hope you are too.