Writer, author, memoir teacher. I write about the connections we find by giving each other the time and space to be heard.

Imperfect Nation


photo by Eric Duvauchelle at unsplash.com

Since the recent presidential election, I have struggled for words. Today’s calendar has unlocked me, bringing back the feelings I had on this date in 1963 after the assassination of President Kennedy.

I am angry. I am sad. I am shocked.

I have read columns and blogs and Facebook posts to figure out what happened and why.  I didn’t want to add to the noise. If I said anything in print, it had to be good.

Paralyzed and at a loss, I recalled these lines from the poem Anthem by the late Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

So here goes.

The president elect pulled the scab off our national infection and the pus is oozing out.We have long covered over the ugly symptoms of hate and tried to ignore them but now, with this election, we see how they fester. We can’t look away. And it hurts. Oh, how it hurts.

This essay  by Charles Eisenstein opened my eyes a little more and had me nodding in agreement.

So what do we do now? Michael Moore has a pretty good list. David Brooks offers some thoughtful advice. There’s loads more: Wear a safety pin, write your elected officials,  march on Washington,  speak up and donate and share your imperfect offerings.  Mr. Rogers said his mother responded to scary news by telling him to look for the helpers. Now we can be the helpers.

Before the election, I tried a little experiment to understand why any of my Facebook friends would vote for a man so divisive. I still don’t understand why racism and misogyny were not deal breakers for them. But I’ve been reading that  many people felt forgotten. In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for a Marshall plan for the poor in America, black and white. Maybe that’s an idea worth revisiting, beyond name-calling and labeling.

And finally, this: In her book, No Ordinary Time, a great comfort to me these past two weeks, Jan Phillips encourages us to “practice speaking as if your life were a manifestation of your words.” To me, that means say what you want to see. Imagine that.

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