My social-media input is so divided right now. It’s hard to triage all of it, isn’t it? It’s hard.
I’m overwhelmed, and one set of people in my life is saying “IT’S BECAUSE THE WORLD IS ON FIRE AND WE’RE ALL GOING DOWN IN FASCIST FLAMES UNLESS WE TAKE STRONG ACTION RIGHT NOW!!!!” and the other set is saying “For GOD’S sake, this happens every four years, RELAX already!!” And I absolutely know which side I believe, and I am absolutely at a loss to explain it to the other side. I have voted in a number of elections, and sometimes my choice of candidate has won and sometimes my choice has lost, and I have always felt it does not deeply matter one way or the other, and yet this time I believe it deeply does.
It is different. It is hard to say why it’s different, to people who don’t think it is different. My mother has reminded me more than once how other people freaked out when Barack Obama was elected. How to explain the difference in type and cause of freak-out? How to explain why this isn’t exactly the same way someone else felt when Obama was elected, with the expectation of exactly the same “and everything was fine” results? I remember people saying society would fall apart if Obama won; how is that different from my fears now? How to explain the whole thing to someone in my Facebook newsfeed who says that protesting an assault on democracy is the same as making an assault on democracy, and that everyone needs to get over it / give him a chance? How to explain to someone that NO, it’s YOUR news that’s fake news—when they think MY news is fake news? How to explain that the two things are not equivalent, even though it feels like they are? How to explain it to people who think there is no problem here and that the new president hasn’t even done anything yet?
Well. I don’t know and neither do you, or else it would all be explained and everything would be fine. But in the meantime, I’m panicking and directionless. Thank you to those of you who sent me links to places giving direction, but for some reason I find those make me panic even more. It reminds me of when I heard that we can go right ahead and recycle that piece of paper, and we SHOULD, but in the meantime a business just dumped 10,000 pounds of paper in the trash: we like to say individuals make a difference, but for most of us that isn’t true. We get an electric car to reduce our carbon footprint, and a business adds to the air the exhaust of a hundred thousand gasoline engines every day. Certain individuals, certain organizations: those will make the impact here. The rest of us have to wait and see what they will choose to do, and add our individual pieces of paper to make our own proportionately tiny difference, in the hopes that all together our tiny inputs will add up to one impactful action—and in the meantime, those tiny inputs will make us feel better, by making us feel as if we’re helping. That’s basically what a republic is and does: we all do our tiny part, to give others the power to make big decisions for us.
Today I’m going to Target. I’m taking a Maeve Binchy book with me, and after I shop I’m going to go out to lunch and read my book. When I come home I’m going to write a letter to one of my senators, even though I don’t think it makes a difference, despite people saying it does. I’m going to fold laundry while listening to The 451 podcast. For the time being I am not going to research any more “Ways You Can Help!” organizations: I have set up the monthly payments to the ACLU and a couple others who have more impact than an individual, and I am going to hope that the people who are in charge of preventing the loss of our republic will do so.