Good-morning and welcome to the International Day of Tolerance.
Honest. I’m not making this up. If you’d like more information, here’s the UN’s official background page on it.
I’m actually not a big fan of “tolerance.” I wish they’d named it something else.
The International Day of Awareness of Bigotry
The International Day of Respect for All People
The International Day of Countering Fear and Exclusion of Others
The International Day of Trying to Accept the Unacceptable
You know; something along those lines.
To me, tolerance is something you do while gritting your teeth and counting the minutes until your ten-year-old finishes her first violin practice. It’s a temporary phase and you long for it to be over so you can go back to the way things were. Tolerance is not meant to be permanent.
I’m more of an Acceptance advocate. For it’s only with acceptance of some “new normal” that can we begin to figure out what to do next.
Acceptance of what is, helps us figure out what’s next. [click to tweet]
As many of you (but not all; I know), I awoke to devastating news last Wednesday morning. I spent my first hour that day making sure what I was reading was correct. Denial is the first stage, you know, in working toward that ultimate acceptance.
Unbelievable, was my first Facebook post. Then I changed my cover photo to funereal black and backed away from social media for a while.
I spent the day stuffing envelopes for a mailing I was doing for a local arts organization. It’s what I would have done had Hillary won. I wasn’t going to let the result of this election change my daily life. Not yet.
Mindlessly stuffing envelopes gave me time to think.
Later that day, when I went to put my chickens away, I discovered I’d lost my Araucauna — the beautiful black and white striped hen that was always pecking at my legs — to some unknown prey animal. It was the final straw and I took advantage of it to have a good cry.
Crying, as you know, “creates a space for joy.” [click to tweet]
Thursday I got a massage and took a nap. I felt sad for Hillary, certainly; she’d worked so hard and so long. But I felt even sadder at the belief that my country is crumbling around me. It’s been crumbling for a long time: more divisive, more extreme, more racist, more misoginistic than I’d realized. I’d been in denial, just like so many others.
And then I began to write.
And So It Goes, I proclaim here.
Life goes on, no matter what might befall us. C’est la vie.
My blog began as a safe place to explore cultural differences that confound us. And, in so doing, get to understand ourselves a little better.
“I prefer those cultural differences that make me gasp, Oh no!” I declared in my memoir, At Home on the Kazakh Steppe.
After a few years of posting about cultural differences in foreign lands, I turned my attention to my own (figurative) backyard, deciding there were plenty of cultural differences right here in front of me. I started, if you recall with the one about Breastfeeding Six Year Olds. That one certainly had me gasping, “Oh no!”
As I continued to stuff envelopes, a series of posts on the “Cultural Differences between today’s Republicans and Democrats” was practically writing itself itself in my head. For a few “brief, shining moments” the election results looked like a gift that had fallen into my lap, blog-wise. Lemonade from the lemon, you know.
Then I came to my senses.
I didn’t feel the least bit curious about who these people were who, in casting their vote, had brought my country to the brink of demagoguery. Besides, this wasn’t cultural. It was personal.
I felt flabbergasted, scared, worn out.
I pride myself on being an open-minded person. But I had reached my limits.
Meanness, bigotry, selfishness, and greed
will not take up space in my open mind. [click to tweet]
I feel so strongly about this that I’ve toyed with the idea that the most damaging event of our 21st century is no longer 9/11 but 11/9 [click to tweet].
I’ll tell you why I think so.
11/9 is far worse because it will last much longer. The first plane has hit. It’ll take until January 20 for the second plane to hit — cabinet appointees et al.; even longer for the next two. And the waiting is excruciating.
In my mind, this election (assuming the Electoral College does NOT DO what it is called upon to do) has exposed a metastasized mass more extensive than expected.
Let me add a little caveat here. I don’t see this as a simple, “if only Hillary had won.” No. Deep divides within my Democratic Party have also been exposed with this election. But I’ll save that exploration for a future post.
I know many have made comparisons with the rise of Hitler. But for me, what is more frightening than the supposition that we’re heading down the path that Nazi Germany took, is that what we face today is something this country has already experienced.
I’m talking about what happened in this country eight years
after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.
Enacted by states from North Dakota and California to Delaware and Texas, the Jim Crow laws maintained a caste system in this country based on race that lasted until the Civil Rights Act of 1965. There’s much available on the Internet. But I found the information from the National Park Service to be succinct.
In short, the opportunities that former slaves gained in the years following the civil war, were abolished. They lasted only eight years. So, I think about the eight years we’ve had under President Obama.
Despite the Republican mantra about his failed presidency, we’ve actually had a few gains these past eight years. Here are a few headlines:
From Forbes: Obama Outperforms Reagan on Jobs, Growth, and Investing
From the Washington Post: Obama’s Claim That Businesses Are in the “Longest Uninterrupted Stretch of Job Creation”
From Forbes: Who Is the Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?
From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Income taxes were as low as or lower than they were at any point in the last 50 years.
From NBC News: 18 Million more Americans now have health insurance
From The Wall Street Journal: The Affordable Care Act has added years to the life of Medicare
You get the idea. But if you want more, click here.
Today, they stand in danger of being wiped away, just as the benefits of Reconstruction following the Civil War were.
That’s just if Trump sticks to a classic Republican strategy, one of three possible scenarios I see. But with the people he’s now surrounding himself with and with his call to provide top security clearance for his three older children, that one is growing dimmer. In its place, I see two others unfolding. And, if either of them hold true, this country will be yearning for a mere Republican ideology.
For one, Trump could establish himself as the rogue politician, beloved by the people, anti-establishment, unscripted, uncensored, uncivilized in many scenarios. We’ve certainly seen that side of him. A buffoon to some, at worst. An entertaining buffoon, though, to too many. He’ll confound his enemies and astound his allies. And folks like me will stop trying to predict what he’ll do next.
Or, he becomes the demagogue we fear most, the worst nightmare of most Americans who aren’t white, straight, Christian, male, and uneducated.
So, yes; it is a scary time for those of us who see change as something that has always happened in this country incrementally. Too slowly for many, absolutely; but mostly always forward.
That Congressman I once worked for used to say that the way our country was set up, it is much easier to prevent bad laws from happening than it is to pass good laws. And so it goes.
I urge us all to stay vigilant. Pay attention. And don’t be tolerant.
How about you? How are you this week?
TOMORROW: What we can do.