You probably didn’t notice–maybe a few of you did–but I’ve been away for a while. It’s been almost a month since I’ve written anything here, and I feel like my lack of writing has been a little bit dishonest. I’ve been in a bit of a dark place for a couple weeks, and I think I’ve been avoiding writing anything. I try to be hopeful on this blog, but sometimes it’s harder than others. Nobody is hopeful all the time. So I just decided not to write…. Well, I guess that was part of it. Another part was me looking at ideas and beginnings of posts, and then literally sighing the words, “Ahh, fuck it.” If I’m being honest….
I was going to write a post titled “Getting Ebola For All The Right Reasons” about all the people putting themselves in harms way in order to try to care for the sick, or even going into highly infectious areas in the hopes of telling the stories (through writing and pictures and video) of the people whose lives and families and communities have been devastated by this disease. And how celebrating those people and that best part of our humanity is such a better use of our energy than being fearful about contracting a disease that has infected less people in this country than there are people who have gotten dumped by Taylor Swift. There are so many stories of hope and humanity selflessness in the midst of this outbreak, it is such a shame to focus on fear. But while trying to write those stories, I felt myself thinking, “What’s the point?” I don’t know…. I still might write about it.
And then the mid-term elections happened, and it got me down. I know it shouldn’t, but it did. Something about this election just made me feel very cynical. I live in a state where they just reelected a man who is running as a “pro-life” candidate, but who encouraged his wife (at the time) to get two abortions, while also having affairs WITH WOMEN WHO WERE PATIENTS OF HIS and then pressuring at least one of them to have an abortion after he got her pregnant. And I’m not saying that he or anyone else is beyond redemption, but can we really find no one else to represent us who doesn’t have this colossal level of a well-documented moral and ethical failure?!? He was elected because he has an “R” next to his name. And things seem very dark….
In addition to this, the abortion amendment to Tennessee’s State Constitution–the one that I wrote about before this post–passed. I thought about writing about this as well…. About how the way that Tennessee’s amendment process works is that in order for a constitutional amendment to get ratified, it needs to be on the ballot in a year that people are voting for Governor, and if 50% + 1 of the number of people who voted for the Governor vote “Yes,” it passes. Well, in this election the Governor’s race was not even close. There was never a doubt that the republican incumbent was going to win a second term. I had not even seen one advertisement for the democratic candidate…. I’d be willing to bet that 95% of the people in the state could not have even told you the democratic candidate’s name. So with that race already in hand, many MANY voters who identify as “pro-life” decided to leave the ballot blank in the Governor’s race, essentially making their “Yes” vote for the abortion amendment count as one and a half votes. All for what will amount to regulations that will made it next to impossible for poor women to have access to safe, affordable abortions when they actually need them, while keeping them very available to the mistresses of rich doctors-turned-politicians. This amendment takes the right of a woman to make her own reproductive decisions and puts those rights and decisions in the hands of people like Scott DesJarlais. And again there I was, just wading along, waist-deep in “What’s the fucking point….”
Maybe “hopeful” is a synonym for “naive.” Maybe cynicism is just wisdom and time.
And then there’s family stuff and sickness and stress and money worries…. And then there’s pipelines and immigration and beheadings and every other story on NPR.
I’m not out of this funk yet….
But I turned off the news for a couple of weeks and just tried to listen to funny podcasts. This seemed to help a little. And then, while driving around with my kids, I listened to a perfect pop song called “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk The Moon. And after it finished, I said, “I think we’re going to listen to that again.” And we did. And it was awesome. You should probably listen to it as well…. Here it is:
But my thoughts kept coming back to how next-to-freaking-impossible it is to have any effect whatsoever on another human being, even when the things you are saying and believing are as rational and true as anything you know in the world. It’s hard enough to change myself…. I don’t know why I would be so deluded as to think I can change others. Too many John Hughes movies, I suppose…. And I started saying the Serenity Prayer to myself….
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
And a strange thing happened. I started to remember what serenity felt like. And I started to feel more courageous. And a little more wise. And I thought about how we don’t speak the truth to change people’s minds…. We speak the truth because it’s the truth. We don’t love our enemies because they’re going to magically become loving as well…. We love them because they are the image of God, and they are worth loving. And we don’t stop fighting the battle when it looks there’s no hope of winning…. We keep fighting because there are kids watching. And they are learning how to live. And they may someday be able to win the battles that we couldn’t.