Today is not a day for empathy.
I often talk about communicating better and building bridges. I do care about experiences that are different than my own, and I believe that it is an individual effort to step outside of the echo-chamber of our own heads and our tribal loyalties so that we may reach across, over, and deep in an attempt to have some sense of what it is like, if only for a brief moment, to inhabit the shoes of another.
Connection, communication, understanding, empathy, you see, is what changes hearts and minds.
Post-election, I sent two e-mails to close friends in alignment with that mindset. I meant every single word. There was so much pain and anxiety bleeding out from the corners and edges of friends, people, and the communities of which I am part of and with whom I stay close. That pain and anxiety has continued; the fever pitch has risen; a sense of desperation and disaster permeate the air. We had to manage it.
However, today we will not be managing it. Let it out!
Get mad. Party until you can’t remember. Get angry. Rage against the dying light. Bury your head in the sand. Scream out. Talk to your friends. If you’re going try getting high, sure, why not start today, I hear it’s free in D.C. (But please, don’t burn down buildings – that is a stupid kind of self-sabotage).
Tomorrow, we can go back to trying to be reasonable and finding a way forward. But, today, I am granting myself the space to not have empathy and to not want to sort through fears and emotional drivers, to find the commonalities and not the differences. Grant yourself that space, too.
Why? Because today we now have a new the face for this nation. A face that sneers and spits, spews poison, condescends, brags, and gleefully gives out contempt like Halloween candy tainted with razor blades.
That, that is the face of this nation.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you think you support. It doesn’t matter if you believe women should be barefoot and pregnant or if you want every abortion to be celebrated in the streets. It doesn’t matter if you are religious, irreligious, or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter if you only talk to people that look like you or if you can’t understand why anyone needs that to feel normal. None of that matters today!
The root of the word “inaugurate” implies an omen of things to come. This inauguration marks the beginning of absolute chaos in this country. It marks the beginning of rolling protest and discontent, of infighting, suspicion, paranoia, of attempts to rollback social progress and to silence disparate voices and difference.
Today we enter dystopia.
Pay attention. Keep your eyes open. Stay close and tight… We are all a little less safer, we are all a little less secure, we are all a little less hopeful and now is the time you draw strength from those around you.
It’s about to get really ugly.
p.s. I know that we will be okay. I know that this will not last forever. But today, it’s just a bit much. Tomorrow, we can all get on with it.