Young or old, black or brown, unemployed or barely hanging on…you may feel abandoned. But you’re not. Hang in there.
As I’ve been thinking about the coming 2018 Election and potential blue wave, I haven’t been able to shake the image of a strong, brave polar bear on an ice floe, in the middle of the sea. It says to me: “alone.”
Why can’t I shake it? What does it have to do with the November midterms, the need to unite and strive as a populace, or with the classless orange threat and his republican enablers, who govern us now with increasing autocracy?
Close your eyes and imagine with me.
You are a weary, hungry 7-year-old. Your frightened, tearful mother has been urging you ahead, humoring you, cajoling, as you walk and stumble over the rough terrain toward this border she talks about, where you will finally be safe. But when you get to this magic place you don’t understand, the people who greet you are mean to your mother and she is crying, and they pull you away from her and put you in a truck. Now you are on a cold warehouse floor, covered with a thin blanket, and you are: alone.
You are a young black man, who just finished his exams at the end of your sophomore year. Man, that feels good. The music is on, your car window’s down, and you’re singing your favorite song like you’re up on stage. Wait. The police are pulling you over. Ok, stay calm, there’s nothing wrong here. You reach over to turn down your radio as police approach your window, and they…wait, they’re pulling you out of your car, you are on the ground. Wait! But this isn’t fair! Why are they yelling? This can’t be right! You are in the back seat of a police car which is speeding God knows where. You try your best to fight back the tears. You were just singing! How did this happen? You are: alone.
You are a farmer on your land. Much of it lies fallow, but you look at your planted crops, a weariness overwhelming you. In the distance, your small house that has been in your family for three generations. How long will you be able to keep it? How will you process your crops without help, and how much money can you make from them? Enough to keep the house? Who will help? You begin to harvest, one row at a time. A gray, flashing storm approaches. Get to work. You are: alone.
You’re holding your baby in your arms. Oh boy, she seems sick. She was coughing yesterday, and all night long. You sat with her in your lap on the bathroom floor, running the shower hot to make steam, and that helped for a bit. But this morning, she seems hot. She doesn’t have any energy. You don’t have money for a doctor. You don’t want to, but you’ll have to take her to the emergency room. Just hang on, baby. We’ll do this. You are: alone.
You are new in town, and don’t have a doctor yet. You’ll have to see someone about the cramps. This isn’t normal. You can barely stand up. It isn’t getting better. You check the phone book, there’s a Planned Parenthood downtown. They’re good, they were nice to you when you were younger. You can’t wait any longer, this isn’t going away. You are: alone.
You are 92. Who’d have thought you’d last this long? Last night, your nursing home aide lost her balance while she was holding you in the shower. Now your leg hurts, and they are worried about your falling, so they have strapped you in your wheelchair. You are waiting inside the door of your room until they collect you for dinner. You have to pee, and they aren’t coming. You are: alone.
You are standing at your car in the lot outside your factory, your home away from home for 40 years. What will you tell your wife? She has always been behind you. You have worked together so proudly. Will you have to sell the house? Will she have to sell that china she saves for when the kids come to visit? She loves that china. It was her mother’s. Now the plant has closed. How will you bear to tell her? You are: alone.
You are a student. There is sobbing, across the room. You can’t look. Where is the shooter? The sound of gunfire echoes in your ears. Foul smoke drifts in the room. Has he left the room? What will your mother say? She will be sad forever. She will cry so much. There is blood on the floor. Will you die today? You are: alone.
You only feel alone. You are alone twice in your life, when you are born (“Hi World, what’s going on here? This feels odd!”) and when you die (“Goodbye”). The rest of the time, you are a member of society.
Society is supposed to help you when you are alone, by establishing a government that assists you and the people around you with laws and rules which allow you to live without fear. It should be designed, from the beginning, to help you by setting norms and policies which enable you to live your life in safety and with respect.
A blue wave – a blue tsunami – is necessary in November, because we have made a mistake and forgotten who we are. We are a people who pride ourselves on helping each other, and that pride was lost in the last election. It was lost when we turned our backs on those people outside ourselves. It was lost when we enabled the dialogue which belittled the “other” in the name of nationalism, and turned a drive for good into a careening dive toward self-interest.
Until November, we are going to fight every day to restore kindness and hope in our society.
We are going to tell you in November that you are not alone.