Relief in the Midst of Grief

This has been a difficult week for Americans. Two cultural heroes – one, a beloved African American songstress and the other, a highly-respected lawmaker – were eulogized.

The airwaves were dominated by footage showing Aretha Franklin in all her glory, singing songs we all love, and Sen. John McCain doing his work as a senator. We heard descriptions of who these two cultural giants were and were reminded of the great contributions they gave to this country, this world, and therefore, to us.

For a week, though we mourned, we could breathe, because, for the first time since the 2016 presidential election, the airwaves were not completely dominated by presidential drama and politics.

The vitriol, the endless offerings of opinion by political pundits, the assault on our spirits caused by the nastiness of this political season was forced to the periphery of the news cycles. When we looked up this week, we would see either Aretha Franklin’s face and hear her amazing musical talent, or we would see the face of Sen. McCain and hear how he cherished his work as a senator and as a man who loved country over party.

It was a relief.

On Friday, though there were news teases offered all day long, many stations carried the funeral of Aretha. It was classic Black Church – comforting and empowering in its delivery of music and hope. Though the funeral lasted most of the day, our spirits were exposed to music and stirring tributes delivered by people who knew and loved this woman.

On Saturday morning, the reprieve continued, as cable news stations showed the McCain family standing at the bottom of the Capitol Building’s hundreds of steps, awaiting the coffin of Sen. McCain to be brought to its hearse. We were “taken” with the family and the hearse to the Vietnam War Memorial where we watched Cindi McCain place a wreath in honor of soldiers who had served and died in the war that resulted in McCain spending five years as a prisoner-of-war, and then “we” went to the National Cathedral for the senator’s funeral.

The funeral took up the morning; we listened to music and to stirring tributes to Sen. McCain. There was no vitriol. There was nobody stating an obvious lie about something and demanding that we believe it. There was no headshot of a president who craves media attention even as he lambasts the media as being an “enemy of the people” which produces “fake news.”

We had peace this week in the midst of the sorrow of two families.

The current administration has drawn on the nerves of the American people, yes, but also on the nerves of people from all over the world who have been dumbfounded by the antics of the president. It has been troubling to see what is going on and how the Congress has allowed it; in spite of people declaring their love for America and democracy, what has been going on feels like our democracy is being attacked and compromised, steering us toward a totalitarian state. It is difficult to watch in and of itself for those who cherish democracy, but even more so as we look at the Congress capitulate to the threats, name-calling, and bullying of this man, seemingly unaware of how their lack of action is putting our democracy in jeopardy.

This administration has been like a soap opera; we wait on a daily basis to see what the president has tweeted; we brace ourselves for the next untruth he says; we know that the assault on sanity will be as negative as are the plots in soap operas which keep people watching, waiting for the next “episode.”

The American government is not supposed to be a soap opera or a reality show. It is supposed to be the vehicle or vessel which directs our paths and helps us navigate the challenges of life.  The constant drama does the opposite; instead of feeling secure, we are assaulted on a daily basis with confusion, lies and unnecessary drama.

This week we mourned the loss of two people we loved, gone way too soon, and we were allowed to share in ceremonies celebrating their lives. We were allowed to grieve but we were also allowed to breathe in something other than the toxic fumes being emitted by a toxic administration.

In the midst of ongoing political confusion, the deaths of two celebrated Americans allowed us to forget the craziness that we have endured daily for almost two years.  I would bet that for many, the break in the confusion was a welcome change, in spite of the fact that it was brought about by the deaths of two people whom we deeply loved and respected.

A candid observation…

Understanding America

I do not understand this country I thought I knew.

American-flag-America

 

Yes, there is and has always been racism, and sexism and in fact, all kinds of oppression meted out to a lot of people and groups. The history of racial and sexual oppression of people in this country is not pretty. People want to deny it, or ignore it, but it is there.

Even though I read this history and am knowing it better and better, even though I knew the history of domestic terrorism which white mobs have engaged in, most times with the help and support of law enforcement, I always thought that deep down, underneath the racial hatred,  there was the possibility of hatred passing away or at least diminishing so that all God’s children could live together.

I believed that.

I do not believe that all white people are bad, nor do I believe that all white people are racist.

But this election has shown me that too many white people are racist and are unable to rise above their racism for the common good.

During the presidential election, I truly thought that the masses of Americans, white and black, would be disappointed, angered and repulsed by the hateful rhetoric spewed by the incoming president. I thought they would reject hatred, reject racism and sexism and all the other “isms” that we heard over the past year and a half.

But the masses didn’t care. The incoming president tapped into something in them – an anger based on economic woes, for sure, but also based on something else more sinister. They did not care what he said, who he said it about, how true or false it was, how crass it was, or whose feelings it would hurt.

He was going to “make America great again,” which seemed, in the end, to mean that he was going to give a lot of Americans permission to openly …hate …again.

I was sure the masses of Americans would be dismayed that he used people from Breitbart News as close advisors. I was wrong. I was sure people who called themselves patriotic would be appalled at this would-be president delegitimizing the heroism of Sen. John McCain. He was speaking to a certain group of people – mostly white – and he was clear about it.

I was sure the masses of Americans would reject that. I thought we had come further than that.

I was sure Americans would be disgusted by this man making fun of journalist who had a disability. He said he didn’t do that; his surrogates say he didn’t, either. No, it was the “dishonest media” that spread that story. He completely ignored the fact that people saw him, saw what he did and said.

His supporters were ready for a change; how it came about didn’t matter. They loved it that he was “not a politician” and that he “said it like it was.”

But “like it was” for whom?

Time will tell what this man’s policies will be. It is not my opinion of his shortcomings which is the big deal here. The big deal is that the masses of Americans supported his hateful rhetoric. They applauded and ignored his name-calling and bullying people They ignored his obviously thin skin and his lack of impulse control. Even now, they do not care that he is buddying up to Vladimir Putin.

It is troubling to me because I thought I knew America, fundamentally. I thought there were more people who despised racial hatred than there were people who still live in it.

I was wrong.

A candid observation…