thoughts after the inauguration…

Surely the earth can be saved by all the people who insist on love.

– Alice Walker

…thoughts after the inauguration…

by: Catherine J. Howard (1.21.17)

The world swirled yesterday. Or perhaps more accurately, it has been swirling for years (decades? centuries? eons?), and yesterday it came to a particularly poignant and ugly head. Anger. Folks responding to anger with anger. Crying out against wrongs. Powerlessness and anger. Righteous indignation.

My husband has been my ground in processing this. A disabled veteran who ended up in the mental hospital after seeing too much of the inner workings, he reminds me that all this was there before. It has always been there.

Yes, it is out in the light now. Yes, it has the country in its grasp now. But it is not new. The background system in its entirety has been eagerly gearing up for this moment — even when we were cheering for our fresh-faced, brilliant, former President.

So where does that leave us?

What are our options now?

What could possibly help now?

We have models of resistance and protest. We have models of pushing and scrapping and fighting for one right at a time. And we have a trail of assassinated and physically broken, chronic-disease-ridden activists in that wake.

What else is there?

What else can we do?

Can we live happy lives while fighting injustice, or are we doomed to an anger that eats us away from the inside? In reality, it is the same anger eating away at those perpetuating injustice.

What do we do?

My response lately has been to watch. Watching is not passive. Watching is patient and critical. Watching before acting and before speaking insures we react from truth rather than from anger or anxiety.

In this watching, I have seen that this new president (and the people who stand behind him) want to take away all the structures that were created to support me. They want to pretend I don’t exist. Want to pretend that if I just tried harder, I would become a millionaire and wouldn’t have to ask them for anything. Because heaven forbid any of us need a hand every now and then.

I have seen that I am a woman who has lived well below the poverty line for many years. A woman who now appears on the outside like she has a “great job” but actually works seven days a week with two extra part-time jobs to make the ends meet and still often has to pay the rent late or eat just peanut butter sandwiches for a week. A woman who supports a disabled veteran alone because it is too painful to watch his agony when he tries to work. A woman who has watched the VA turn their backs on her husband time and time again because they are too overworked and underfunded. A woman who had an abortion. A woman who had a miscarriage. A woman who still couldn’t afford healthcare under the ACA. A woman who happily dated women. A woman who works tirelessly to provide outlets for artists to speak their truths. A woman who deeply wishes to become a mother.

I have seen that I am a woman.

I work hard. I am an American. But I am a woman. And that means I must be controlled because my mere existence pokes holes in the “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps” narrative.

I have seen that I must continue to exist. And my heart aches for the anger within the people who hate my existence. They are hurting. So deeply. From their own insecurities. From their beliefs that the world is out to get them. The nightmares that haunt them. The toxic sludge that eats away at their sense of security. They are not living happy lives.

Their anger makes them unhappy and their unhappiness makes them angry. They are trapped.

I will not be trapped. I will not be angry. I will live a happy life. One filled with love. One filled with faith. One filled with optimism. One filled with stillness.

Tonight, I will be at a Vigil for Peace inviting more light into the world. We must continue to exist as beacons of light. We must continue to care for ourselves and not burn up with the anger. We must not allow the anger to control us.

When we watch critically, speak thoughtfully, and shape our lives with a refusal to give in to pessimism, we can discover a new path forward — together. 

Be bright, sweet loves. Be bright.

Catherine Howard is pictured here painting a mural in South Africa

Catherine Howard is pictured here painting a mural in South Africa

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The publisher is deeply grateful to Catherine Howard for sharing these sentiments. If you missed the Vigil for Peace like he did, don’t grieve. Find new ways to get involved, to watch, to speak out on behalf of the downtrodden, to support non-violent resistance, and a community centered ethic that recognizes, we are one. 

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