Yesterday was rough for me, you guys.
I went to bed on Tuesday night knowing that the North Carolina dumbfuckery was not going to go away. I woke in the morning to have that horror confirmed, and as I drove into work listening to what CV Rick so eloquently described as “hate mongering redneck retards” spouting their nonsense about how much God cares about marriage and about how happy they are to be enshrining hate and bigotry into their constitution, I started to feel pretty awful.
What I’m seeing – and I’m actually seeing it; this isn’t just me being reactionary or overly sensitive – is a concerted effort on the part of some very powerful people to infringe, limit, or outright destroy the rights of whole huge swaths of people. Women. Queer folk (not just gays and lesbians, but transgender people, too). Immigrants. Students. Poor people. Unionized workers. Honestly; the only people who aren’t under fire are rich, white people.
If someone asked me to identify myself, the first labels I would reach for to convey to you who I am are “wife, mother, and teacher.” All of those things are central to my being, and all of those things inform the ways I approach issues of policy (and, not for nothing, basic human dignity). I am very wrapped up in my role as a caregiver and a teacher; nurture and guidance are both ever-present activities for me, and I understand that my ability to do those things mindfully and generously really do affect the people in my sphere. I care about how well I do my job because I know my job has an impact on how well my babies (both biological and academic) will be prepared to survive in the world on their own.
Yesterday, though? Yesterday was too much for me. At about 10:30, I completely lost my already tenuous hold on my proverbial cookies, and I found myself weeping in my boss’s office. I wasn’t able to regain sufficient control of myself to stay at school, and I was fortunate that my teaching responsibilities ended at about 11:00, so my boss was able to send me home.
I cried in the car all the way home. My husband came home for lunch with flowers and chocolate, and I wept on his shoulder for 15 minutes. When my girls came home at 2:30, they found me on the couch and the sight of them starting me crying again. I ended up on my neighbor’s porch at about 3:00, finally able to articulate where all this raw and painful and frightened was coming from.
I am sending all of my children into a world that tells them, to varying degrees, that they are unworthy, unlovable, and undeserving of basic human dignity. In the short time I have with them, I have to give them the tools they need to become thoughtful critical analysts so they can think through all the pernicious lies and malignant bullshit being fed to them as “fact.” In the short time I have with them, I need to build up their self-esteem so that they’ll question when someone in positions of power tells them that they’re not capable of making their own choices, that they don’t deserve a vote, or that their neighbors pose a clear and present danger to them. In the short time I have with them, I need to instill a sense of both agency and responsibility that motivates them to participate actively in a system that seems hell-bent on keeping them uninformed and disenfranchised. In the short time I have with them, I need to make them believe that they are good people; capable, wonderful, loving, and compassionate people who are agents for good in the world.
I don’t have enough time, and that thought is what paralyzed me yesterday. I need more time, because it seems pretty clear to me that the world isn’t getting any less hateful.