I’m asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours. I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can. — President Barack Obama, ending his farewell speech from Chicago last week.
Obama. Blackish. Trump’s mockery of a press conference. John Lewis. RUSSIA. The last week has been rough. Hope and disillusionment are running neck and neck in my heart and brain right now. I must also confess I started the Whole30 diet 11 days ago. Why the hell I thought I could/should go through this transition stone-cold sober is beyond me. I’d tongue-kiss Putin right now for a decent Cabernet.
I can’t be this beaten down in Week 10. Barring anything crazy (RUSSIA), we have 198 weeks to go before the 2020 election. One hundred and ninety eight.
Five days out from the awfulness that will occur at noon in Washington, D.C., on Friday, I’m currently just trying to fake it until we make it. Because feteling at this point is simply not an option. But I’m having a serious crisis of faith.
So I went to a meeting with my hyper-local Pantsuit Nation group last week. I have a stack of feminist books on my nightstand I’m about to start reading. I plan to discuss these books with other women as obsessed as I am in my Fourth Wave Book Club, inspired by a conversation I had with a first-year Harvard law student recently. I’m making plans for next weekend’s Women’s March in Austin. In fact, I’ll be driving there when Trump takes the oath of office. I won’t have to see the Obamas leave. I won’t have to see Trump walk through those hallowed doors. My friend and I should be singing embarrassingly loudly to Prince through the entire heart-wrenching scene.
I hope the feeling of being one with thousands of others in Austin will carry me through the next month or two. But Austin is a shitshow of its own. Among the bills floated for our current legislative session:
- Making abortion a felony. (That’s HB 948 if you want to call your representative and oppose it.)
- A “constitutional carry” that gets rid of any licensing or education needed to carry a loaded handgun (removing the criminal background check, four-hour training requirement that includes non-violent dispute resolution and a gun proficiency test, and fingerprint submission). Oh, and lowers the carry age from 21 to 18. (That’s HB 375.)
- A “guns everywhere” approach, meaning guns will be allowed in any public place (schools, hospitals, parks). Add these last two together and you will get 18-year-olds in their senior year of high school, legally carrying guns to school. (That’s HB 560.)
- The blasted “bathroom bill,” requiring transgenders to use the bathroom dictated by their birth sex, condescendingly called the “Women’s Privacy Act” as if I’m the victim. (That’s SB 6.)
I just saw an Arizona representative is trying to make it illegal to teach social justice in school. Is this real?
I went to church yesterday, hoping I’d find comfort somewhere there. As usual, I did. From the pulpit. From the lack of Twitter or CNN. From the music. From my people. Toward the end of the service, we said in unison the following affirmation from Abigail Reichard, inspired by the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
I refuse to believe that we are unable to influence the events around us.
I refuse to believe we are bound by racism, war, and injustice.
I believe those around me are my brother and my sister.
I believe in dignity every day and that our brokenness can be healed.
I believe we can overcome oppression and violence, without resorting to it.
This means I seek to reject revenge and retaliation.
I remember, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can.”
I’ve never been an affirmations kinda gal. And being asked to say stuff in unison brings out my inner toddler. But this felt restorative. Maybe I need to start every day for the next 198 weeks by saying this affirmation. Because I am tired. Already. But tired isn’t an option. Sometimes during the campaign I thought of how tired Hillary Clinton must’ve been. I still wonder if she’s caught up on her sleep.
If she did that, we can do this. Yes, we can. Today, I’m not feelin’ it. I want to turn on I Love Lucy reruns and ignore the challenges ahead of us. I want to get back to my pre-November 8 life and let the responsibility fall to someone else. But I can’t.
Because Obama asked. Because only love can drive out hate. Because these people are my brothers and my sisters. And this is my country.
So yes, I can. We can. We will. We have no choice.