America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
Alexis de Tocqueville
It’s hard to say precisely the moment when America ceased being good. Some might even say she never was good–at least not wholly. Our country was built upon interracial warfare and slavery–against American natives, Africans, even the white poor.
To say any of that was ever good is shortsighted and misleading.
And yet, one can’t help but argue that America has always been great: a bastion of freedom, a new exploration of democracy on a scale that hadn’t been seen before, a righteous (but not self-righteous) country whose faith lay not in ethereal deities or divine mandates but upon the collective goodness of the people themselves. Yes, America hasn’t always met these ideals (if ever she has), but striving toward ideals is itself a a constant struggle and a constant celebration of the small victories along the way.
Yet now, amid political corruption and mass shootings, what victories remain?
My feelings are strong, and mixed, and I’ve yet to fully process the significance of a Trump presidency and the impact it’ll have on me, my friends, my family, and my kids.
But no matter how long my mind whirs and spits out warnings and error messages, it doesn’t change the fact that tomorrow the 45th President of the United States will take office–and whether we love him, hate him, or ignore him, that fact cannot be changed.
There’s a heinous demonstration on campus today that asserts abortion is genocide and compares it to events like the Holocaust and the expulsion of Native Americans from their homelands. All of this, of course, is coupled with graphic images that are neither scientifically accurate nor representative of abortion.
So naturally, there are a number of students protesting the demonstration. No matter the motivation of the protestors, they accept the right of this other organization to free speech, but object to the way it delivers its message–a manner that’s so reprehensible I refuse to even mention their name.
This same group was on campus last year, and I protested against them. This year I’m unable to protest, but at least I can lend my support in other ways.
I will no longer address you as my representative. In voting to override Governor McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2, making it legal for magistrates to deny to marry same-sex couples who have the right to marry in North Carolina, you have not only voted against the wish of thousands of North Carolinians, but blatantly voted against me.
I did not vote for you, but since you are now my senator, you are obliged not only to listen to me but to represent me. It would be easy to dismiss me because you won this race without my vote, so I would like to take a moment to remind you that you did not gain election through a majority, but merely a plurality. Indeed, because of this, please realize–and consider this deeply–that you now represent more than half of North Carolina who did not vote for you. Therefore, I would like to share with you where I stand on many of the issues I believe will be important during the next six years in which you are in office.
I want to be in love someday. I want to be weak in the knees, come undone at the seams. The world should tremble beneath us, the skies fall as starlight pours around us. I want to be married under the open sky as birds sing and rainbows break amongst the clouds and cling to the last daylight as Anar sails into the west.
Except none of this could ever happen, and for many still it can’t happen, and it won’t happen if not for the forthcoming words of the nine judges deciding now in silence our shared fate.
I wrote a post on Fair Trade last week, but the moment I finished it, I loathed it. It was long and tiresome, uninspired, and failed to touch the topic adequately. It was supposed to start my in-depth look at the issues our trip is facing, but instead it felt like a sour essay.
The point remains, however, that Fair Trade is important. After all, our entire trip is working alongside the Toledo Cacao Growers Association, which is based around Fair Trade farming.
So I’m tossing out everything else and starting anew. It’s not fair that I have to write this twice, but it’s not fair that farmers around the world aren’t receiving the benefits of Fair Trade, either.
As a child I detested it. Now as an adult I have come to appreciate it. I may still at times despise it, but I succumb to it nonetheless. In this word there is synthesis. Togetherness. Means and ideals.
I can’t recall any memories of importance, but I can imagine some long lost day in the second or third grade when, before Hebrew school began, my friends and I would ride the wagon down the hill behind our synagogue. Sometimes I didn’t like going down the hill. Sometimes I would much rather sit and talk on the swings.
Sometimes we did both.
At six or seven we could see that both was better.
So elections were yesterday and despite distractions galore, I still managed to reach my daily word count goal for NaNoWriMo. Through antihistamines and philosophers, economic speakers and communication workshops, I thought the day would end on a solemn note. And when I saw some of the election results, certainly it seemed solidly solemn enough, but somehow there is clarity in these wins and losses–clarity that my vote didn’t count.
But don’t mistake me for apathy. There’s more to it than that.