When I was in grad school I drove an old clunker. But he was the first car that was all mine, so I loved him. The night dad brought him home we all threw names in a hat and I drew “Oswalt”out. Ozzie the Oldsmobile he was. The problem with Ozzie was that he was generally sick more than he was well. And I, being a graduate student with a mere internship, was always terrified of the next rattle or failed start. Ozzie kept me in anxiety limbo pretty much constantly and I rarely trusted him. BUT every time he broke, and I got the diagnosis, and I shelled out the money and fixed him, I could put one foot in front of the other again. At the very least, hoping, I wouldn’t end up stalled out on an overpass ever again.
I hear it’s the same way with serious illness. You’ve been experiencing pain or strange symptoms for a while. And it’s a horrible time of fear and frustration and unknown. And after the diagnosis-some kind of weird relief happens. Hope. Hope that we can beat it, fight, move on. When I was 30, a dentist told me that he could alleviate my TMJ pain and I wept the whole way home. Wept out of weird relief and hope and validation that yeah I was hurting…have been hurting…every day…for years and years with no hope.
For me last night, there would have been no good outcome. “At least it will be over” sounded like a joke, because it’s NOT over. We chose two very unlikeable and scandalous humans as Presidential candidates. One, because the primary system is corrupt-looking at you SUPER PACS. And one because of fear and whatever else (I’ll never understand). That was our symptom. The candidates were our symptom.
I woke up at 4:59, checked my phone and have been up since.
Last night was our diagnosis.
We didn’t know we were sick. Now we do.
And the sun rises today on a million emotions.
It feels bleak. It feels scary. It feels hopeless.
Oh good gosh, we’ve elected a reality star to run our COUNTRY!!! A bigoted sexist one, at that.
Here’s the deal. Many of us did not know we had a problem. Many sweet precious American men have been walking around loving their wives and children well, unaware that sexism STILL plagues their wives daily.
White people have been hanging in the burbs saying “I have black friends” and “what does systemic mean?” while oblivious to our innate privilege.
Refugees are fleeing countries torn apart by war while we eat grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwiches from food trucks overlooking the sea.
We’ve ignored the symptoms as they’ve been brewing. So many of us didn’t know we had a problem until hate had a voice.
But now we know. We can’t look away. We are still making light of human life on all levels. We still have so much farther to go.
A DIAGNOSIS USUALLY LEADS TO A PLAN. Here’s mine:
CHANGE. I’m about to sound really really Republican right now but here goes. Change happens in our homes and in our streets and in our cities. Laws don’t change human hearts. I’m not against laws, we need them and we need Washington. But they don’t put compassion in our hearts. Laws don’t teach us to love our brother and sister. Today we know we have a problem. Start to change the problem of fear and hate in your home today. And then on your street, and church and workplace. We can do better. We can love harder and deeper. We can fight for justice and goodness and truth.
PRAY. I am going to be hitting my knees a lot harder today than yesterday. I should’ve been doing this anyway. We are not a praying people. I suspect there have actually been very few people ever who have sweat tears of blood like Jesus did in Gethsemane. But that’s the example we get in the Scriptures. Jesus in Gethsemane begging his Father to take the cup from him. The son of God begging for deliverance from the Cross-the one thing he was put on Earth to endure. The Son of God on his face begging his Abba for another way. If the Son of God sets this example for us, we should so follow.
HOPE. Trump and Clinton were buddies before all of this. They are more similar to one another than they are to any of us. They came from privilege few of us can fathom. They don’t know us. They don’t represent us. They wouldn’t be found in our back yards eating hot dogs and drinking craft beer. They didn’t eat ramen in their college dorm rooms. Look around. Your neighbor is your neighbor. Your neighbor cares more about your life and your city and you than Donald or Hillary ever could. Today, instead of fear of this Stage IV disease we know we have. Let’s say with our friends and family and children that we can overcome this. Do you know what anxiety does to our bodies? Do you know what fear does? Fear and anxiety kill. They break us down. They debilitate us.
I saw a woman on a show (I watch too much TV, ok!) who had had Stage IV breast cancer for 15 years. She was drugged up like crazy. She had lost her breasts. BUT she was alive because she hoped and because she laughed and because she fought.
Anxiety today will do nothing. Be the change you wish to see, hit your knees more than you did yesterday, teach your children to love the lovable and unlovable, and hope-Hope for healing. Because after all. This is America. We are fighters. We can overcome even the scariest Presidential election in history.
It’s not a President that makes America great. We, the people make America great.