You and I
One week ago, I woke up feeling great. Proud, hopeful, safe. Ready to take on the world.
By the end of the day, however, those feelings had crumbled to dust, and over the past seven days I have felt as if I’m in some kind of alternate universe. Everything looks distorted. Up is down, down is up, and nothing makes sense.
Now, I’ve never been one to stay down in the dumps for very long–I’ve gotten pretty good at looking on the bright side of things, healing my wounds with gratitude, and getting those endorphins flowing again. But this is different. It has been one week and I’m feeling exactly the same, if not worse, than I did when I woke up on the morning after the election. My brain has been on overdrive trying to make sense of everything, trying to justify, trying to love, trying to find a ray of hope, but nothing seems to be working.
It feels wrong to write about anything else other than this. Today on Facebook I “liked” a video about a chimpanzee who was visibly amused by a magic trick, and even that felt wrong. I shouldn’t be watching chimp videos, I should be doing something. I tell myself to stop being so dramatic, that the world isn’t coming to an end tomorrow… but then I scold myself for not being alarmed. I plead with myself to have an open mind, to give the other side a chance… but then the reality of what we have done collectively as a country sets in again and sends my mind spinning at full speed.
The Republicans are to blame. The Democrats are to blame. The Whites. The Blacks. The Browns. The media. The government. This isn’t “great.” It’s hate. And we are ALL to blame. Of all the posts and articles and comments and accusations and rants and memes I’ve seen over the past seven days, there was one tiny phrase, a response to a photograph on the Humans of New York feed, that struck me as gold: people are more important than ideas. The me of one week ago would have likely argued against that statement, interpreting it as selfish and narrow-minded, but the me of today is seeing things a little differently. The me of today has learned that yes, it’s true. Ideas are abstract, general, and broad, but individuals are real. They have emotions, thoughts, and truths. They bleed. Before there can be a “we,” there must be an “I,” and even more importantly, there must be a “you.” But here’s the tricky part. If the only yous we allow to surround us are those who are just like us, who agree with us in every way, who look and talk and act and think like us, then the whole thing falls apart. Living in your own bubble is not the solution. Neither is staying silent. You have to get out. Meet some yous who are different from you. Talk to them. Listen to them. Accept them.
Every single one of us is responsible for whatever happens next.