The Midterms Upon Us

First of all, VOTE. Go, vote, now, if you haven’t already, have enough time to read this, and are eligible to in the United States.

Second of all… Oh my, what a terrible two years it has been. Our worst fears from November 8, 2016 are largely becoming manifest. It is a strange and painful and dread-inducing time.

The air is thick with division and vitriol. Human vulnerability is smashing against inhumane ideology and structural oppression. Surrounding this brokenness, permeating the hatred, there are armies of people holding, caring, and advocating for the vulnerable. Fierce human beings are leading the way, resisting despair, and serving others. Despite so much evidence to the contrary, they see injustice through the lens of love, not because human suffering is ever beautiful or tolerable, but because they have chosen to fight for the safety, protection, survival, joy, and flourishing of all people. They have chosen to uphold the value of love, and they have chosen wisely.

We so often discuss the frightening state of the world and that which we are against, but we rarely discuss what we believe in, that which we support. While the president and his minions spew lies about people of color, immigrants, refugees, and victims, I choose, as my friends, family, and classmates do, to resist his ideology vehemently. I have decided, despite my own gnawing dread, to knit my hope to facts and love. Where we choose to place our faith is just as important as where we direct our vote, for they feed one another. In the darker times, when little makes sense about the nature of things and why terrible people are rewarded with power, it is even more important to remind ourselves of what we believe in.

Do I believe in hatred, greed, and violence are real? No. I choose to believe that love, healing, justice, and compassion are real, better and Truer indications of what humankind is designed for and capable of. If we despair, if we abandon the heartbreaking and beautiful struggle of hope, then we let those with the hateful, cruel, or indifferent ideology win. Then, we, too, in our resignation say that there isn’t enough room or resources for everyone, that violence and competition are more feasible than love and justice, that all human beings cannot live kindly and in community with one another.

Given the choice, which luckily I am, I sure as hell am going to believe in the strength of the human spirit over bigotry and limited ideas about human motivation. That means that I remain hopeful for the creation of a better world, but also that I continue to believe virtue is an expansive and plausible option for the redemption for this country and for who we can become together. There is so much at stake in who we choose to govern us, what we choose to advocate for, and what we choose to believe is possible for humanity, for community, for the world our children will inherit. Because what is at stake is the protection of the integrity of our democracy and our collective right to course correct.

We have lost so much these last two years. We have wept. and we have panicked. We have woken up. We have come together and apart. It is true, in the same breath that we use to say what a dark time this is, that people of marginalized groups have been suffering the same grief, pain, and injustice for too many decades. So as we continue to wake up, organize, question one another, and gather together, let us continue to choose where to place our commitment, in mind, in word, in deed, in vote, in hope, carefully and fiercely.

Not everyone can place their faith in a higher, loving power. I understand that. But place your faith in something higher, more virtuous, than what we see in front of us now. Place your faith in wisdom or in kindness or in courage or in love or in the cause of justice or in the healing and reconciliation of people in this country. Do not despair, and vote accordingly.

Offered in love:

“Let America Be America Again,” by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!
I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”
The free?
Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.
O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!